Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – The PS3 Attitude Review
The answer is yes.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception takes place an undisclosed amount of time after Uncharted 2. There is a much greater focus on Drake this time around, with revelations about his past and his relationships with Sully and Elena.
The plot itself concerns Iram of the Pillars, and the completion of Nate’s 20 year quest to find out what Sir Francis Drake did in the six month gap in his history. While Nate feels compelled to finish what he started, his friends constantly ask him why he has to keep going on what becomes an increasingly dangerous adventure.
Pacing is different as well. While Among Thieves often felt like a roller coaster ride of action (with the superb ‘Where Am I?’ breaking the gameplay), Drake’s Deception is paced much more maturely and feels longer as a result.
Characters have also developed since last time, in particular the relationship between Nate and Elena has changed, and the relationship between Nate and Sully is also examined as we see a bit of their history.
In some ways it’s a shame that we don’t see more of Chloe and Elena, as well as newcomer Charlie Cutter (played by Graham McTavish), but as Sully was put on the back-burner last time to make room for the Nate-Chloe-Elena triangle, Chloe and Elena’s scenes have been scaled back this time to make room for Nate and Sully’s relationship.
It’s not just familiar characters that have changed though. The antagonist is no longer a ruthless, macho criminal. Fans of the British show Outnumbered might recognise Rosalind Ayres as Katharine Marlowe.
Marlowe is someone who prefers a “hands-off” approach to her villany, so she has time to mess with Nate’s head and undermine him. The more cerebral nature of Marlowe is demonstrated by some incredibly effective levels where you begin to question what is real.
The now familiar structure has returned, alternating between puzzles, shooting and climbing. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, as they say. However, there are some little niggles that occur throughout the game.
Occasionally there are moments throughout gameplay that mix things up a little. For example, Drake might narrowly avoid being hit by a falling object, or something might break as he tries to climb on it. Usually these are automatic, and gameplay resumes straight away.
However, there are some moments where something will happen that you need to interact with, like if Drake is sliding down a roof and you need to press ‘X’ at the bottom to jump to the next ledge. Thing is, these aren’t consistent, so some moments will have a button prompt, but others won’t.
While this is something to look out for, the rest of platforming and climbing is fairly straightforward, although sometimes you might need to wiggle the analogue stick to be able to jump from one ledge to another, slightly higher and to the side.
Shooting has also been made far more realistic, with guns having varying degrees of recoil depending on their size. However enemies are also more intelligent and move much faster, so some levels can get quite fiendish and demanding even on Normal difficulty.
Melee has also been upgraded since last time, so now Drake can take on multiple opponents and use objects around him to his advantage. One level sees Drake taking on a whole room full of thugs, made slightly easier with the aid of beer bottles and large spanners.
However, a new type of enemy has been introduced, called the brute. A hulk of a man, brutes require you to slug it out while avoiding attacks coming from a fist as large as a football. Usually appearing at the end of a fight, they feel incredibly satisfying to take down.
A lot has improved this time over. Lighting itself is much more realistic. When standing in bright sunlight, people will have a ‘glow’ around them, and sunbeams coming through tiny gaps in walls and windows will have ‘God Rays’, which look sublime in the Chateau level.
Textures seem sharper, and as ever, the environments are detailed and a joy to look at. You will encounter several markets throughout the game, and it’s difficult not to wander around for hours just browsing the different stalls.
Where snow was the graphical focus in Among Thieves, sand is the visual marvel in Drake’s Deception. From Drake’s feet breaking the crust of the Rub’ al Khali desert, to mounds of sand cascading down a slope, to sand storms, Naughty Dog has nailed a difficult environment, both graphically and in gameplay.
Perhaps more impressive is the procedurally generated sea in the Cruise Liner level. While navigating the decks during a storm, the ship reacts in real time, which means when it tips from side to side the movement isn’t scripted; every time you play that level, it will move differently.
Even that is topped later in the same level when the ship begins to capsize and you have to escape while it’s still on it’s side.
All of this is tied together with more fluid and context sensitive movements. If you’re facing one way and start to move in another, Drake won’t just snap round, he’ll take a step backwards and turn. If you’re running through an environment (lets face it, you’ll do a LOT of running) Drake will steady himself by reaching out to the wall or bannister. If you’re exhausted, then Drake will be slow and might veer from side to side occasionally.
All of this helps to create an incredibly cinematic experience and helps to cement the characters’ believability, whether you’re a long-time fan or a complete newcomer to the series.
There’s no doubt that Naughty Dog worked very hard on Uncharted 3 and it shows; the player’s experience has improved a lot since the first Uncharted. The cinematic gameplay has been fine-tuned and the story develops real characters and keeps players engaged right until the very end; everything has been polished to the highest shine.
This is certainly the best Uncharted game to date, and a game you should have in your collection, but it makes us wonder, what will Naughty Dog do next?