I kind of feel like I’ve become a missionary for Naughty Dog in regards to the Uncharted series. With every person I approach, I whip out an Uncharted strategy guide and excitedly ask them “Do you have a moment to talk about the Church of Nathan Drake?” Some people may think I’m joking, but I can assure you, I’m very serious. In fact, I’ve already converted a couple of previous naysayers, and now they don’t know how they lived before accepting Drake into their lives. I was starting to calm down a bit with my search for spiritual enlightenment through the Uncharted series, and then the third installment, Drake’s Deception came out.
And I have seen the face of God in this game.
In all seriousness, I’m not going to delve too deeply into the story of Drake’s Deception. I feel that if I were to just focus on the story of the game, it would really ruin a good amount for anyone who hasn’t played it yet. I will say that the game does take you to several exotic locations that haven’t been visited in Uncharted thus far, and every detail placed into each location is nothing less than astonishing. There are so many intricate details in every location… the landscapes are remarkable, the characters look the most real they’ve ever looked, and interaction with inanimate objects and other surroundings have been worked into the gameplay flawlessly.
Aside from the graphical upgrade this sequel received, there were gameplay features that got some tweaking too. Melee and brawl attacks were definitely a facet in combat in both Drake’s Fortune and Among Thieves, but it wasn’t until Drake’s Deception that they got the focus they’ve needed. To be honest, I tried avoiding fist fights as often as possible in the previous Uncharted games, simply because it wasn’t perfected; landing a punch seemed difficult and often buggy at times. However, in Uncharted 3, I’d have to say that brawling got the biggest overhaul. There are big guys that are more difficult to fist-fight called Brutes that seem to deal more damage and take less overall. These guys are probably the most fun to fight because of how Drake reacts. Obviously, fighting a guy twice your size is going to be a bit difficult, and it’s entertaining to see Drake get increasingly fatigued as he lands each blow and entertains the player with his famous witty one-liners.
Other small improvements to gameplay overall include throwing back grenades (I can’t tell you how happy I was with this one), and shooting while swimming. To throw back a grenade, you have to be relatively near it and time it just right by hitting the triangle button. Drake will pick it up and make panicked sounds, and then usually throw it in the direction of whichever enemy threw it at you. I say usually because there were many times that Drake’s arm didn’t extend out far enough, and once thrown, it ended up hitting a wall right in front of him and exploding, resulting in death and me screaming at my TV. I played on Hard mode my first run-through, and a close grenade explosion equals instant death. I couldn’t tell you if that’s different on Normal mode, but I’d assume you might catch a bit of a break. As far as swimming goes, I honestly had no idea that you even COULD shoot and swim (I found out while browsing the Trophy list). It’s something I’ve yet to try, but there are a couple parts of the game (especially before the big cruise ship area, as seen in the E3 2011 demo from Sony’s press conference) where this could’ve proved useful had I previously known about it.
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In regards to the characters, there is definitely a lot of development that occurs in this installment, especially between Drake and Sully. Okay, little bit of spoiler alert: We get to see them meet and how their friendship/partnership began. This was probably my favorite part of the game overall, because it finally answers some questions about Drake, but in the same regard, poses even more (that are unfortunately left unanswered). Returning supporting characters include Chloe, who thankfully looks like a real person in this game – she looked super creepy and unrealistic in Among Thieves; and Elena, who is super awesome as always, and was also given a major story development in between 2 and 3 that’s vaguely hinted at throughout this sequel. New characters include Charlie Cutter, who looks quite a bit like Jason Statham and is every bit as awesome, and the villains Marlowe, an old British lady; and Talbot, her much younger, dick-faced second-in-command, who seems to hang around Marlowe in hopes of gettin’ some Cougar action. There are some new side protagonists and antagonists, but to be honest, their introductions and interactions with the other established characters were very weak; essentially, these new side characters were developed to be thrown away by the game’s end.
While I can readily admit that the Uncharted franchise has become a rival to Zelda in terms of my all-time favorite, I felt that Drake’s Deception wasn’t as strong as Among Thieves in regards to plot and new characters. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of amazing action sequences, and I like that they took a new direction for the “supernatural twist” in this game, but I don’t feel that this sequel lived up to its predecessor. I’d probably give Drake’s Fortune a B or B-, depending on my mood, give Among Thieves a perfect A+ with about 20 extra credit points, and Drake’s Deception a A-. I definitely loved the game, but it’s not as perfect as other review sites have claimed it to be. The story was definitely the weakest point, and posed so many new questions while only answering a few that have been around since the series’ creation. Not to mention that I ran through the entire story in less than 9 hours. I would love to see a richer plot in the next game, and definitely a good three or four hours added to the campaign. The Uncharted games are praised for being incredibly cinematic with their caliber being akin to that of a big-budget Hollywood movie, which is true… But a video game shouldn’t last as long as a typical blockbuster flick.
Final Call: All in all, I was pleased with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. It got me excited for Golden Abyss, which will launch alongside the PSVita in February, and makes me sad that I have to wait at least two years for Uncharted 4. Until then, I will view each game as a Holy Scripture in the book of Nathan Drake, and with each installment that is released, I will get closer and closer to reaching video game nirvana.
- One of the best looking games out there
- Revamped combat system that makes hand-to-hand combat fun this time
- Top-Notch voice acting as always
- The occasional unfair death
- Plot weaker overall than previous two installments
- Extremely short