November 16, 2011
By Oliver Layco
Nathan Drake made his first appearance on the Playstation 3 system four years ago. Since then, gamers have had a chance to engross themselves in the world that Naughty Dog has created. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune introduced us to the life of the treasure hunter known as Nathan Drake. We became familiar with now fan-favorite characters like, Victor “Sully” Sullivan and Elena Fisher. We fought with them as they tried to recover the lost gold idol of Eldorado. In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, we reunited with Drake, Sully, and Elena. However, we met a new character in Chloe. This game was slightly better than the first with the addition of online multi-player. Finally, we come to Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception. This installment is an amazing conclusion to the Uncharted series on the Playstation 3.
It greatly improves on everything that I love about the first two games. Graphically, it is the best the series has looked. Naughty Dog has really outdone themselves in terms of the amount of detail they put in. When Uncharted was originally released in 2007, it became the standard of graphics on the PS3. With Uncharted 3, the game has improved ten-fold. The game just plain looks beautiful. Whether I was in a burning chateau in France or in the Rub ‘al Khali desert, I was just stunned by the way the environments looked. When Drake and Sully are trying to escape a fire, I actually felt like they were in real trouble because of how the flames leaped around them.
One aspect that really impressed me, while simple, was one of the most gorgeous scenes I’ve seen in a game in a long time. After Nathan Drake finishes taking down a cargo plane (I’ll get into that later), he’s left to wander in the Rub ‘al Khali desert. Now it may seem boring stumbling through sand dunes for what appears to be days, the way it looks and the subsequent mirages are one of the graphical pinnacles in the game. As Drake is making his way through the desert, the wind is blowing and we can see the sand flow like we’ve seen it in an Indiana Jones movie. It looks so realistic that I sometimes felt like this was a perfect mixture of movie and game. Then when he stumbles and rolls through the sand, we see grains of sand gather in his hair, and when he shakes his head they slowly come off. Everything is just so stunning that you get lost in it.
In multi-player, the graphics take a partial hit. The game still looks great when you’re playing against other people, but some buildings aren’t as detailed and Drake’s face isn’t as good looking. Also, when playing split-screen, the game does that weird little box thing that I remember from Resident Evil 5. My only complaint with this is that it makes it harder for me to see the opposite team far across the map. The controls are fine tuned with only a few minor setbacks. The way you control Nathan is mostly the same. There’s tighter control over aiming and shooting. The major improvement comes in the fighting system. In the other two installments, fighting wasn’t as useful as it is in this one. The opening scene is just a giant bar fight. We learn how to throw people; how to use objects in the environment like a beer bottle; basically, how to kick their ass and feel accomplished. I found myself wanting to do melee attacks throughout the game just because it felt more satisfying to me.
The flaws are just the same ones that have been there throughout the series. Nate jumping where I didn’t want him to jump; some punches not making contact correctly; it wasn’t as bad as the first two, but it was still noticeable. I never really played the Uncharted 2 multi-player, but from what I can remember, the Uncharted 3 multi-player feels slightly better. I noticed that I haven’t lagged as much so far and that the aiming is pretty precise. There are several co-op missions. I also like how I always gain something no matter how bad I might be doing in a game. The rewards are just endless. I haven’t felt overpowered by an opposing team; rather, I can just tell that they had a better strategy than me.
The story is an engaging and fitting conclusion to Drake’s adventures on the PS3. From the opening bar fight, to a crumbling chateau in France, to the Atlantis of the Sand, the story just draws you in. The way it’s told makes it feel better than most Hollywood movies out there. I saw a video of Harrison Ford playing the game, and every way he described it was true. This entry in the series felt especially like an Indiana Jones movie. This was most noticeable with the relationship between Drake and Sully and Indy and his dad. Early on we find out how Nathan and Sully met each other. This really drives home the point that Sully was a father figure to Nathan. This becomes even clearer when we find out that Nathan was an orphan.
The dialogue between the characters was something I haven’t seen in a game in a long time. One particular instance was when I was in the burning French chateau, and there were enemies shooting at me. In my head I’m saying, “Why are these guys shooting at me?!? Don’t they wanna live??” Then as I’m fighting my way through this inferno, I hear Nate say my exact thoughts. Then another scene that stands out to me was when Nate and Sully were separated from Chloe and Cutter. When they finally reunite, Cutter mentions that he’s not on a phone contract, because those things are overpriced; or something along those lines. Then there are the random, oh shit moments that I express shortly followed by the characters repeating my exact thoughts. This is some of the best dialogue that Naughty Dog has done in this series.
As for the story itself, I think it was very well done. We begin seeing Nathan ready to sell his ring for a large amount of money to some British folk. They get duped because the money is fake and they have to fight their way out of there. We also get background info on how Sully and Drake met, and find out that the main villain, Marlowe, was connected to them 20 years ago. When the flashback is over we meet up with other characters from the series; Chloe and Elena. While Chloe’s role wasn’t as big as it was in the second game, I feel like they did the most they could do without seeming like they were just having her in the game for the sake of having her. We find out that there is some ancient city that Sir Francis Drake was assigned to find, but when he found out the dangers he stopped that expedition. We find out that this is what Marlowe is after so Drake is determined to stop her.
Along the way we travel through London, France, Syria, and Yemen. The environments look and feel realistic. While Drake is walking through a town in Yemen we see the people going about their daily lives. The women are in abaya, black robes from head to toe, and that was actually quite creepy. Two of the most impressive action scenes I’ve seen in a game occur within two or three chapters of each other. The first involves a capsizing cruise ship that Nate has to escape. The best part is that Drake actually caused a whole to be blown in the side of his ship by throwing a grenade towards a generator, which then exploded and caused a whole to tear in the side of the ship. Gunfire ensues, and to top it all off there’s ocean water rushing into the ship. There’s a sense of impending doom as Drake escapes each situation on the ship only to get stuck in a worse one. Somehow, he is able to escape the ship in the end.
The next crazy scene involves fighting the enemies in an open cargo plane. Drake gets sucked out of the plane, but manages to grab onto some cargo netting and manages to climb back on the plane. From here, another gun fight begins and it doesn’t end well for Nate. A hole tears in the side of the plane, and everyone gets sucked out; and again, Drake manages to survive. I could go on and on about the story, but I think you get the idea. I’m in love with this game and will gladly play through it anytime. I still have about 20 treasures to find; Crushing mode to defeat; and then I have to play through the entire trilogy at some time.
This series is, by-far, my favorite series of all time. It just has the perfect combination of cinematic and gaming qualities. My close colleague, roommate, and friend, was watching me play this one and he even admitted during one scene that this is practically a movie; and I couldn’t agree more. The Uncharted series is my perfect game.