Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

Video game heroes more often than not stray away from the cinematic definition of a hero, even though games are growing to have more and more in common with cinema. There are many definitions of heroes within these two mediums alone; heroes in video games are often not as relatable as heroes in cinema due to their incredible and fantastic origins/settings. The best heroes are the regular guys; they starts off as completely nothing. As time goes on, we root for them, cheer them on until they prevail (sometimes they get the girl too). Who fits into this category? Gordon Freeman, Niko Bellic, John Marston, Lara Croft, and Tommy Vercetti are a few that come to mind. In my opinion, Nathan Drake is on a short-list of video game heroes that are the most grounded in reality. Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig has crafted, in Nathan Drake, a character who, through his likeable personality, and occasional jokes and quips, has become the most down-to-earth, relatable ‘everyman’ in all of video games.

Uncharted 3 picks up right where the second game left off, though aside from the characters, not much was much carried over. Sir Francis Drake’s motto, “Sic Parvis Magna,” or, “Greatness from Small Beginnings,” inscribed on the ring Nathan wears around his chest carries a great deal of thematic weight in relation to the character; the ring itself is the focal point of the story. The overarching story borrows a lot from The Mummy—a city of riches lost in the sand—and The Last Crusade; emphasis is placed on exploring Nathans son-father relationship with Sully, making this the most character-oriented story out of the three. Elena and Chloe also return, along with newcomer Cutter; though not enough attention was paid to the latter two as Chloe and Cutter both make discreet exits halfway through the story. I understood that they wanted to focus more on the partnership between Nathan and Sully, but these two characters were just left hanging with no real explanation as to why.

Just a warning: returning players may feel like Drake's Deception gets off to a slow start. If you're one of them, rejoice when you reach the Chateau, for it's where things get really, really awesome.

The villains of the game include Marlowe (the bad) or as I like to call her, “evil Helen Mirren,” and Talbot (the ugly) who is sinister but too closely resembles Harry Flynn from Uncharted 2. The story for the most part is fleshed out with a cohesive beginning, middle, and end; albeit the ending is predictable and the twist is a little weak. It is brief as well and does not give off any feeling of entirety or totality; you know that this is simply another episode in the series, and there will be more to come (however, I’m sure it gave Jonathan Crane an erection). The voice-acting by Nolan North (Drake) and company and the writing by Amy Hennig is superb all-around and are the two primary reasons as to why this story works so well; they bring these characters to life in an emotional and immersive way.

The environments, the Havok engine; they also help infuse the experience with the same aforementioned immersion. Voice-acting/writing was just one piece of the puzzle; what the team at Naughty Dog managed to conjure up visually was nothing short of the ultimate fully-interactive cinematic experience. The character designs and the diverse levels all evoke an emotional response and connection to the game. Most notable is how seamless the game is able to transition between cutscenes, quick-time events, and actual gameplay. Sometimes a bit jarring, it worked overall.

Gameplay in Uncharted 3 continues this immersive trend. Like the previous games, Nathan is able to scale walls, hop over large gaps, and swing around in his best Spider-Man impression. It is easy to tell the shooting mechanics have been tweaked slightly along with the A.I. of the enemies. They are now harder to take down. There seems to be an inherent strategy among them, and thus every action sequence in the game has a prominent, believable, life-or-death/us-or-them undertone.

Here, Sully gives us an extremely subtle, personal smirk, showing us immediately that he finds something amusing that maybe others don't. This smirk is also one of many tiny moments in Uncharted 3 that draw you in with CGI characters who are better at acting than most living, breathing actors.

The one system that was given an overhaul was that of hand-to-hand combat. The abilities to counter out of holds and evade incoming punches, as well as being able to utilize the environment as a weapon have been added to give hand-to-hand combat a more robust and complete feel. Since I was fresh off the heels of Batman: Arkham City, it was easy to spot the glaring issues with the hand-to-hand combat; primarily with inconsistency in counters and the lack of variation in the animations. While it’s fun to run-and-gun in a mix of physical and firearms-based combat; the physical combat in this game is much too vapid, which is disappointing given the caliber of everything else.

Multiplayer makes a return, and not a single frak was given. Players can choose between regular multiplayer featuring team deathmatch and run-of-the-mill objective based games, and Co-op which features modes in which players fend off waves of enemies and other modes of the like. As mentioned before, most of this is pretty generic in the way of third-person shooters. Hand-to-hand combat is receded to the point where it’s useless and I had to empty entire clips into enemies three feet in front of me before they dropped to the floor. Is MP great? No. Does it stink? Maybe. Just go play Socom II.

While the integrity of the SP ending is somewhat lacking when compared to its predecessor, and the tweaked hand-to-hand fighting seem more or less phoned in, Uncharted 3  and the franchise as a whole have defined this generation of gaming. Along with the multiplayer/co-op modes; the single player campaign provides a fun, humor-filled, action-packed, fully interactive cinematic experience. It’s hard to believe this is just a video game. Multiplayer can spiral off into oblivion for all I care.

SP – F#$%ing BUY IT!

MP –A resounding meh, Rent it! (At your own risk)

4 Responses to “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review”
  1. One word: Stowaway.

    Seriously, I watched my brother start Uncharted 3 when he got it. I thought, “I’ll hang out and watch a few minutes to see what this whole Uncharted thing is about.”

    I wound up watching him play for 6 hours.

    And coming back the next day to watch the rest of the game.

    I don’t think watching a game and being as entertained as I was would be possible with any other series.

    • wilypuck says:

      I’m a spectator by trade in the gaming world…Bioshock and Dead Space are two games I loved watching my brother play from start to finish. Uncharted is definitely that type of game because of its cinematic quality and lengthy story.

      Sorry to hear that Chloe makes a quick exit. I love Claudia Black’s voice, so it’s quite disheartening to hear Naughty Dog developers let her character fall by the wayside before the game’s conclusion. Ah, well…c’est la vie!

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