Saturday Morning Adventure Shows
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is the next iteration in the best selling PS3 only Uncharted franchise, and it is a rip-roaring adventure ride that smacks of all the best action movie cinematic moments and Indiana Jones white-knuckle edge of the seat elements that we can think of. Naughty Dog are no slouches when it comes to adding control, navigation and general improvements to their game, we saw the huge leap that Uncharted 2 was from Uncharted and whilst 3 isn't a dramatic leap, it doesn't need to be, since everything has been refined from 2 and given a shiny new lick of paint.
This is one of the more interesting and engaging stories, though don't expect every question you have to be answered. It has a very different ending too, quite a bold move in terms of storytelling. Apart from that, sit back and enjoy the ride as the game takes you through some amazing exotic locales and introduces an interesting set of characters, old and new.
There have been some refinements to the shooting, brawling and the traversal mechanics and they fit together seamlessly. Drake's list of melee moves is still context sensitive and he now has a few more counters at his disposal, with frequent dodges and dirty tricks in the many fisticuffs that the player will get embroiled in. The controls have not changed much from Uncharted 2 and it is even easier to get around the levels, so you can take in the sights as you traverse the many hard to reach places.
Uncharted 3 is a highly cinematic game with a mix of battles, puzzle solving, traversal and chase sequences (pursuer and pursued) thrown into the pot. It all melts together seamlessly and provides a great tapestry of action and adventure that is literally breathtaking at times, with Nate seamlessly dodging gunfire to leap from one ledge to the next, hang there and shoot off a few rounds as he begins a long ascent upwards. The game also features some of the most epic set piece sections in a game to date, with a literally heart-stopping chase through the desert that had us humming the Indiana Jones theme as we leapt from truck to truck, battling the bad guys and leaping back on our horse to get further and further ahead of the convoy.
It seems a little shorter than Uncharted 2 but there's a lot to see and do in that time, with some great battles on offer and a well balanced set of challenges. Nate's acrobatic and brawling ability, as well as the weapons he can use are often required to get the best out of a combat situation and turn the tables on foes that often outnumber our hero. There are nice new moves in Nate's traversal arsenal, where he can knock out bad guys if he lands on them and there are even some pretty sweet stealth sections where you can thin the herd before you kick things off into a mad confrontation.
There are also a few quick time event sequences that occur mostly when you're fighting big bruiser type foes, they allow you to dodge and set up painful counters even on these brutal adversaries. It all comes together to make for one hell of an action ride. And with around 10-12 hours of single player on offer depending on your game play style, that's more than enough for Nathan's third outing we feel.
Uncharted 3 is a gorgeous game to look at and there's no doubt that it remains one of the best looking games on the PS3 to date. This iteration of the franchise takes the graphics one step further with some fantastically detailed character models, environments and some gorgeously done lighting and special effects. The desert is especially well done and that provides some of the most visually appealing play in the whole game.
Uncharted 3 takes the animations up a notch as well, there's a whole range of combat moves now and everything moves better, feels smoother and fist-fights have that proper Pulp Adventure feel to them. You can feel the weight of a punch as it connects and see the effect in some cases, especially in the early stage of the game with one great lavatory based fist fight against a huge brute of a man. The lip synching and the character models are also highly detailed when it comes to the animation, with some great expressions and actions as the story progresses.
There's nothing more satisfying than a well placed grenade, perhaps next to an explosive barrel or some other devastating flammable object. Uncharted 3 takes advantage of all of this with a solid physics system that also allows you to destroy certain fragile walls and the like in the level. It makes for strategic combat as the bigger weapons can chip away at walls and destructible scenery. The ragdoll physics are pretty good as well, especially when enemies are caught by an errant grenade that rolls from a comrades dead hand...sending them flying in all directions, pure quality.
Uncharted 3 enemy and allied AI knows the battlefield, it knows cover and it knows traversal. It can get around the levels almost as well as the player and this makes for great, unpredictable and most of all exciting battles in the single player. It has that really fantastic feel to it when you can watch you enemies using the zip lines and climbing, jumping and crossing ledges to get at you. It also means that as a player you can pick the right time to throw that grenade, shoot that bad guy and sow chaos amongst your foes. They'll react to your actions too, so don't expect alert enemies to behave as dumb as the ones that aren't aware.
Your allies are also pretty damn good in a fight; they'll support you and work together to deal with any threats that might come along. They also follow Nathan most of the time, traversing beams and ledges just like him. If they're blocked by story constraints of course they'll wait for the player to do something to let them progress rather than just running against a nearby wall for an hour because they forgot the path.
Each sound effect in Uncharted 3 is spot on, from the gunfire to the swoosh of rockets and rpgs, to the environmental effects in the various locations in Drake's new journey.
One of our favourite Uncharted scores to date, the third game has a great mix of action and low-key musical themes that combine for a superb accompaniment to the on-screen action and exploration. Nate's Theme 3.0 is a great remix of the original Uncharted theme for the hero and it really kicks the game off in style.
Nolan North, Claudia Black and the rest are all on fine form here. The voice work for this iteration of the franchise is sterling and superbly done. The characters have some excellent atmosphere to them and it's all brought out from every actor involved.
The script is sharp, funny, witty and most of all it's superbly written.
Where to start? Uncharted 2 had some pretty cool multiplayer and it wasn't as fully realised as it could have been, so for 3, Naughty Dog rocked out some more indepth gaming and provided a suite of customisation options that would take its own review to cover. There are custom designs for your characters, emblems that are displayed on walls as you dominate a match. Uncharted TV that shows the best moments from the Youtube video upload functionality in the multiplayer menus and more. As you rank up you earn medals and kickbacks and perks that give you fantastic abilities, like the one that lets you turn into smoke and appear elsewhere on the map.
There's the buddy system that lets you work with a partner and help each other out, spawning on them, doing cooperative kill taunts and more. There is a plethora of team based and adversarial modes. There's cooperative play and split-screen play for most of the game modes so you can rock out some fun times with a friend. It is basically so much better than Uncharted 2 multiplayer in every single way. Cinema mode is back too and you can link a lot of the Uncharted 3 stuff with Facebook.
Then there are the matches themselves, either against the AI in a cooperative based treasure hunting mode or against other human players. Uncharted 3 is also smooth in terms of latency and the maps themselves have a cinematic feel with a bunch of special moments that we won't spoil. Seriously, you have to play the multiplayer to see it for yourselves.
3rd time is the charm?
After playing 3 to completion in a marathon session, we're really hoping that there's an Uncharted 4 now and Drake remains one of our favourite game characters to date, surpassing Lara Croft in terms of Tomb Raiding prowess. Drake is also a lot kinder on the fauna of the local area, without needing to murder lots of endangered animals.
Onwards and upwards Naughty Dog.