The long overdue Uncharted 3 review…

Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 3
Release Date: November 2, 2011
Genre: Action-adventure, Platform
Age Restriction: Mature Audiences only

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception replaces Uncharted 2 as the latest and best game in Sony’s flagship franchise, raising the bar for action adventure games. Like Uncharted 2, filled with Indiana Jones and Tombraider DNA running through its veins, the third instalment has redefined the cinematic gaming experience, astounding gamers with breath-taking visuals, life-like character mechanics and suspenseful, yet witty, writing.

Not straying too far from Uncharted 2, Drake’s Deception continues exactly where the previous titles left off. Nathan Drake still hasn’t learnt his lesson (what’s with this guy?). A sucker for adventure, danger, near death experiences, hanging from ledges and gun fights he saddles up and continues to search for a new lost treasure.

This time Nathan, our protagonist, and his seasoned mentor/surrogate father, Sully, are looking for a legendary ancient city, Iram of the Pillars, said to hold a huge fortune. It’s his craziest adventure yet and with such huge stakes the bad guys have become even more villainous, all of which makes the previous titles seem like child’s play in comparison.

From the outset, it feels more like Uncharted 2.1, rather than a total new game, but thankfully Uncharted 3 does hold a few surprises.

A feast for eyes

Naughty Dog said that Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception uses an “evolved” version of the same engine they used in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves that has allowed the game to have better physics, visuals, and environmental effects. According to developers the game uses 100% of the Playstation 3’s power.

The visuals are so amazing, filled with rich detail and beautiful textures, that just roaming around aimlessly and inspecting the details of the environment are enough to keep you entertained for a few solid hours.

Among the visual improvements are the facial animations, which look more life-like than ever before. This is possibly some of the best 3D modelling in a game that I’ve seen. The shadows and light reflections all look perfect.

Exotic locations have always been a staple of the series and, thankfully, Uncharted 3 doesn’t disappoint at all. The game takes place in various backdrops across the globe including Syrian castles, French Chateaus, the streets of Columbia, London pubs, Arabian desert terrain and so much more.

Stellar storytelling

The game has always paralleled the Indian Jones films, and this title is certainly no exception. Much like Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade we get to explore the childhood of Nathan Drake, discovering how he became the adventurer he is today. Coupled with the origins of his friendship with Sully, it’s clear as day that the gamers are Indy fans. Not that we mind of course.

The antagonist this time go-round is the ruthless Katherine Marlowe, a real mean piece of work, who is also in search of the lost city.

The chase to the treasure is interwoven with breadcrumb clues from Francis Drake, Drake’s ancestor, and Lawrence of Arabia.

But what makes Uncharted 3 stand out from the rest is its unpredictability. The story and gameplay will have you on the edge of your seat. One minute you could be shooting up some bad guys, the next you could be escaping a burning building, and even the next figuring out complicated puzzles.

The main campaign, which plays out like a major summer blockbuster, delivering thrilling highs, lasts an entertaining 8 to 10 hours.

The Conclusion

Managing to marry the third-person combat, platforming, and puzzle-solving elements with the amazing (I know I’ve repeated this a few times) cinematic action sequences and excellent storytelling certainly wasn’t an easy task, but Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception soars high above its competition to be the best among the best. Nothing short of a gaming masterpiece!


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