Uncharted 3 is still a debated topic to this day. Some say it’s the best of the current three (not counting Golden Abyss). Others back the second installment as the greatest Drake-venture. Nobody I’ve noticed argues the case for the first. It seems universally “pretty good”, but what will our Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception HD Review reveal from me?
Well, my hat is thrown in to the ring as a result of reviewing all three in quick succession, and I’m afraid I’m siding with the second game. Three has its moments, and could have edged out two as the best of the best, but some nuisance moments mar what would otherwise be a stellar experience.
Look and Feel
Once more, Uncharted returns with its trademark Naughty Dog art-style with slight improvements all-round. It’s a gussied-up Uncharted 2, which was a gussied-up Uncharted 1. Forgive my lack of technical knowledge, but to the average consumer’s eye, the games would be remarked upon as beautiful and they get incrementally more beautiful with each new installment. Uncharted has always run smoothly, and it continues to here, and there’s not much more to say than that in regards to its overall look.
There are new environments that seem familiar barring the desert section, but for the most part, Uncharted remains Uncharted. There are stand-out moments though, such as the Ship Graveyard area (my own, given name) which has you scaling rusty death-traps and swimming to avoid gun-fire. Oh, of course, how could I forget the swimming? Yes. You can swim in this installment. It doesn’t add much to the experience, it’s just another means to an end, and that’s fine.
As for the feel, I feel similarly about it. The things I’d wanted fixing haven’t been fixed, but it still does all that it does well exquisitely. The platforming and exploration are once again the highlights, and the gun-fights are still slightly boring, but I’ll admit less so than in the first game and mechanically a little more sound than the second. By this point, I’d also realised that there are some guns I’d enjoyed using, such as the Tau Sniper hand-gun, but still, the combat isn’t the draw of this game, it’s the spectacle once more that keeps you hooked.
Uncharted 3’s story is another majorly fun adventure with a bit more tension, as the villains feel more of a threat. As I’m about to critique it, there will be slight spoilers so please skip straight to the Gameplay section if you wish to avoid details.
As usual, Nathan, Sully and Elena are the highlights, and they’re joined by Uncharted 2’s Chloe and a newcomer that will remain as vaguely represented as possible to not spoil it too much . As a British resident myself, I found the opening to be engaging, though I was concerned that the British were once again just the bad guys, as was the case with Drake’s old friend in Uncharted 2. Then, it doesn’t exactly turn out that way, and it results in my favourite side-character to date.
Of course, the villains this time irked me even more-so than the previous two games. On the one hand, they were the first genuine, direct threat to Nathan Drake that I’d seen in any of the games, which had me excited, only for it to yet again devolve in to another “bad guys for the sake of being bad guys” situation. They attempt to tie their story in to an ancient order of people, but it still doesn’t explain why the villains wanted to gain the power they were looking, nor did it even remotely try to do so. This made all of Talbot’s gas attacks ultimately pointless, despite him being a formidable opponent. Worse so was Marlowe, committing the ultimate plot-line sin: pretending to be meaningful without paying off. You see, Nathan Drake met Marlowe and Sully as a child when he tried to steal Sully’s wallet. Marlowe reveals herself to be an absolutely horrid person and tries to slap child Drake, the attempt being prevented by Victor “god-damn” Sullivan. At first, I was intrigued, only to have all of those events rendered meaningless as they never met again until the current conflict. She simply wasn’t believable in any way, shape or form. I understand Drake’s theft of the ring that’d decode all of the secrets she’d been searching for would grind her gears, but we didn’t get why she wanted it herself. She could have done with the level of depth the main characters receive, but as per usual, Uncharted does away with this for the sake of…. well, nothing really.
The reason it’s even more annoying this time around, however, is that it isn’t as if they didn’t have time. When you have time for a tedious drug-induced run through a busy market, as well as a pointless “interactive” desert segment where Drake might die of dehydration…. but he won’t die of dehydration, so why are you making me control this moment? Just cut-scene it. This isn’t fun.
As you can see, I had some specific gripes with the story, but it still pulls off an epic tale and further develops the protagonists, not to mention finally questioning what Nathan Drake feels like he has to prove.
Side-note: I’d really like to know why Drake and Elena constantly end up apart from each other at the beginning of each game. It baffles me, seeing how close they become at the end of each game.
There’s not much to differentiate Uncharted 3 from its two predecessors. I’ve already mentioned that the Tau Sniper hand-gun is my favourite weapon, but the gun fights still bore me when compared to the chase scenes and platforming. They did include the ability to throw back grenades at enemies, which was a welcome addition that allows a fair amount of time to execute, but it often doesn’t feel worth the throw as it usually blows up before returning to the sender.
The same cover/evasion issues that plagued the previous games remain here, and I’m started to feel as if I’m missing something, but as far as I could tell, there’s no way to avoid this.
Ordinarily, I’d go in to greater detail and explain why, despite its flaws in fire-fights and cover button mapping issues, Uncharted continues to be excellent in all that it does for the most part, but as it’s such a small departure from Uncharted 2 outside of a horse-vs-car chase and a few other minor differences, I invite you to read my Uncharted 2 review for a more detailed depiction of the game’s mechanics.
If anything brought this game down in my opinion, it’s two preference issues I have with their choices. The first is being Kid Drake for a short time. This would not have been an issue, if it didn’t force you to do a tailing mission. Tailing missions aren’t fun. They’ve never been fun. They’re boring in Assassin’s Creed and it’s boring here too. Granted, it’s not as strict as the kind you’d find in games that revolve almost entirely around stalking people, but it was reminiscent enough to bother me and made me resent being mini-Drake for a time. I understand this is an opinion, but it’s a strong one for me and it does negatively impact the experience for myself. The second was the odd decision in the desert to make you control a moment that could easily have been shown to you and provided the same level of impact. In fact, having to control Drake in this moment detracted from the experience for me, causing more annoyance than sympathy.
Understand that there’s a lot of criticisms being levied at the game here, but that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing the game. The flaws seem major in the written form, but they’re a fraction of the game itself and the rest is just as good as Uncharted 2, but Uncharted 2 doesn’t forcibly slow you down in the way this game does at times, and that’s why I found it to be lacking in comparison.
Uncharted 3 is still the a top tier title for console exclusives and performs flawlessly on a technical level. It has story issues and the occasional design choice that rubbed me the wrong way, pretty much in the same ways that previous games had, but with an added issue of slowing me down in the process at times. Regardless, missing Uncharted 3 would be a mistake for almost anybody with access to it. It’s certainly worthy of your time and attention, and has me anticipating Uncharted 4 a great deal.
Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception HD
Review Format: PS4