Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

Story

There’s just one issue. It greatly pains me to admit this, but despite Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception’s many excellent successes, the story isn’t as strong as Among Thieves. That isn’t to say it doesn’t come close. It flirts with brilliance. But it ends up defaulting to spectacle in a way that hurts the story itself.

The acting is excellent of course, the characterizations rich and entirely in keeping with the previously established canon. There is a lot of genuinely funny dialogue and the characters remain as likable as ever. The premise is also deftly handled. Uncharted 3 draws blatant inspiration from some of the greatest mainstream blockbusters of the last 30 years. There are some very specific references to the Timothy Dalton Bond film The Living Daylights, and to the Bourne Trilogy that, rather than being cloying, only provide a kind of context that for people who get the references makes things that much more enjoyable.

The game draws most especially from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That means we get a sweet Middle-Eastern setting and Biblical – well, Qu’ranical – mythos. Nate is searching for the mythical Iram of the Pillars, basically the Arabian/Islamic version of Soddom and Gommorah. It’s part of his obsession with the legacy of his ‘ancestor’ Sir Francis Drake. That obsession is explored via a visit to Nate’s teenage years (20 years earlier) that gives the viewer/gamer some insight into his relationship with Sully and to the legacy of Sir Francis.

Ultimately, the title refers to Nathan’s willingness to sacrifice everything to his obsessions, including those who mean the most to him (meaning Sully and Elena, but also Chloe, and new character Charlie Cutter, who should be played by Jason Statham in the movie). His inability to understand that until it’s almost too late is handled well. Nate’s anguish, when the apparent consequences of all that are revealed, is touching. At the same time, in-jokes abound, including the hilarious re-usage of a miniboss character model that never varies regardless of context of race. There’s also the return of gallows humor involving the death of annoying enemies, even great lines like “this is why we can’t have nice things” in response to [REDACTED, SPOILER].

It’s just that despite these strengths, Uncharted 3′s suffers, like the best blockbuster films, from various plot threads that don’t quite congeal into a coherent whole. There are elements that are introduced only to be discarded for no reason and never fully explained, particularly with Nate’s personal life. The game’s villains are never fully explored, leading to more than one WTF moment, especially near the end when a full understanding of their motives might have made the eventual outcome more meaningful. Certain characters are used and then removed from the plot for no reason, leaving the player to wonder why they were included in the first place. It also doesn’t help that the climax, in many ways, mirrors the end of Among Thieves.

More annoyingly, related to Nate’s personal life, it feels like an entire subplot was cut from the game. The ending is very touching, but without additional information the player is robbed of catharsis, mostly due to confusion, that could easily have been resolved with 5 more minutes of screen time for a certain character who I won’t name.

Ultimately, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is an excellent, almost great game that falls short of the standard established by Among Thieves. It’s too bad that it couldn’t be as good as it kept promising to be, but then again, that’s kind of like Nathan Drake himself, so no hard feelings. Just do better next time.

Pros:

* Excellent fight/melee mechanics
* Beautiful graphics
* Great acting, writing, score
* Challenging levels
* Well designed, varied, challenging multiplayer

Cons:

* Under-developed story
* Fake difficulty (invincible enemies rather than challenging AI
* Easy puzzles
* Story threads left undeveloped, characters abandoned

Final Score: 92/100

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6 Comments on Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

JosephPS3 Herman Cain 4 Pres

On November 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Great review Ross. I want to get this game but I just don’t have time to play it with all these great titles coming out in a cluster. I’ve read your review a couple of times and I decided I’m going to have to get it and check it out. It’ll be a nice contrast going from Dark souls to Batman to UC3 and soon to Skyrim.

Hey can you develop multiple personalities if you play multiple games simultaneously?

Tom Jenkins

On November 4, 2011 at 9:26 am

Admittedly there are some spectacular moments in Drake’s Deception however I found the storyline and gameplay to be lackluster and even flawed in places

For example at the very end of the game when Drake finally wins an opportunity to thwart the misanthropic endeavours of the enemy

Rather than playing that most triumphant moment in the game there is a cut scene showing Drake hiding, diving and shooting

I could understand the cut scene if it portrayed a sequence of complex actions beyond modern gameplay mechanics

But taking control away from the player at that moment in order to portray regular actions borders on hubris

And gameplay is not enhanced by shaky cameras and swirly hallucinated environments

A shot should be difficult because of distance, obstacles or enemy counter-manouevres

For example in Uncharted 2 there is an awesome scene of a snowy courtyard populated by four heavily armoured enemies with the biggest guns in the game

The only way to beat this level is to use stealth to conceal your position and take each enemy down in series with several doses of rocket launcher

That is what gameplay means to me

Not extended cutscenes, swarming enemies, button mashing fistfights and shaky cameras

It grieves me to say that Naughty Dog really dropped the ball with this release :-(

sam2k11

On November 6, 2011 at 8:56 am

i think the game is quality and fantastic but it was just a bit to short i mean i know 22 chapters is a lot but it was 26 in u2 also i was disapointed with the fact elena and nate were not together properly after the end of of u2 it ended with them nearly kissing in u1 and then u2 starts and elena is completely forgotten then she comes back into it halfway through u2 then it ends with them both kissing and then in u3 the same thing happens all i would like if there is going to be an unacharted 4 i think it should have lots more chapters for lots more gamplay i mean i got it went on it for about 3 hours then went on it for an hour in the morning and i completed it . also they need to put a bit more effort into elena and nates feelings about each other coz know in u3 i think when sully gives that ring to nate he wants him to propose and then elena hugs him and then all three of them leave on a plane together and would really like it if cutter was in the next one again along with chloe i kno ive waffled on a bit but this is what i think properly havent explained it as well as in my head

sam2k11

On November 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

I think uncharted is a quality game in fact its my best game on the ps3 but what disapointed me with uncharted 3 was how long the campaign last i mean 22 chapters is a lot but it had 26 on u2 so its gone down i think it needs more chapters because uncharted is better for its campaign not for multiplayer so if there is an uncharted 4 concentrate 75% on the campaign and 25% on multiplayer. also i was kind of gutted that nothing happened with elena and nate except the end (king of foudnd the end confusing did nate propose or waht hope he did anyway.) i mean they never even kissed all the way through the game and showed there feelings for each other i mean you would of thought they would be a serious couple by now after the end of uncharted 2 mean thats why i was partly excited about uncharted 3 because after the end of u2 i wondered what will nate and elena be like in u3 (maried/serious couple) and then it ends up with well you know hard to explain. but besides that quality game and i hope they keep making more and more uncharted series its a top class game.

bajka.bajko

On November 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I think uncharted is a quality game in fact its my best game on the ps3 but what disapointed me with uncharted 3 was how long the campaign last i mean 22 chapters is a lot but it had 26 on u2 so its gone down i think it needs more chapters because uncharted is better for its campaign not for multiplayer so if there is an uncharted 4 concentrate 75% on the campaign and 25% on multiplayer. also i was kind of gutted that nothing happened with elena and nate except the end (king of foudnd the end confusing did nate propose or waht hope he did anyway.) i mean they never even kissed all the way through the game and showed there feelings for each other i mean you would of thought they would be a serious couple by now after the end of uncharted 2 mean thats why i was partly excited about uncharted 3 because after the end of u2 i wondered what will nate and elena be like in u3 (maried/serious couple) and then it ends up with well you know hard to explain. but besides that quality game and i hope they keep making more and more uncharted series its a top class game.

Lee

On November 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

Just got to say that I thought Among Thieves was by far the better game when I originally played this. But recently I decided to have a blast at playing all three games again and when you play this directly after number 2 you realise that its just a better game.

Now don’t get me wrong the story and OMFG moments are not as good as Among Thieves but the gameplay itself is much better.