Review: Uncharted 3

Uncharted 3 • PS3  • £49.99 RRP • Out Now

Where is that plane…?

Take a quick glance and you’d think you were watching a movie – this hyperbolic line has been touted at a lot of games in the past, either for their exceptional graphics, epic storylines or intricate characters. Heavy Rain, Metal Gear Solid and L.A. Noire have all been subject to this heralding, yet each of them fall down at a certain hurdle and can’t really maintain the movie mantle. There are some games that really can, and three of them make up the Uncharted series.

To think that a company that created a googly-eyed orange bandicoot would be capable 15 years later of producing near movie quality games would seem bizarre, but it really has happened. And while Drake’s Fortune and Among Thieves really pushed the boat out for cinematic gaming, nothing can prepare you for the audacity of the third game, Drake’s Deception.

To say the game looks good would be an insult to Nathan Drake’s chiseled jaw – it is probably one of the best looking console games made to date. I honestly can’t think of another game with as jaw-dropping scenery or as beautifully constructed character models as Uncharted 3 (something my fiancee seems to find particularly alluring when it comes to Drake himself). The latter may be down to the fact that most game characters are either dressed up as generic space marines or in soldier uniforms and as such don’t stand out, but there’s something quite comforting that there are guys and girls who’d jump around and fire guns while wearing normal attire for a change. This is inconsequential, though, as none of those characters react to their environment the way these ones do – putting arms out to balance yourself on a boat in rough seas and light touches of scenery when turning corners to stop yourself from running into them are little touches but they really add to the experience.
However, if there’s one staple of the Uncharted series, it’s the set pieces. The second game fleshed them out, but the third game just goes bananas. Burning chateaus, crumbling ruins and sinking cruise liners make up barely a portion of what’s on offer and each of them looks astounding. Combined with another stunning soundtrack, some of the scenes are almost unbeatable in scope.
Burning down the house

Either way, the game is dripping in charisma, and graphics are just the start of it. The characters are really the bread and butter of the series and they’re all back to liven up the party, each of them given a huge boost by the vocal talents behind them especially, as ever, Nolan North’s interpretation of Drake, and all in all it makes each character feel integral to the game. The plot is surprisingly frantic compared to Uncharted 2 and you’ll see yourself whizzing around the world very quickly, but always attentive of the engaging narrative and while there are some plot holes here and there, they’re not hugely noticeable.

Onto the gameplay side (after all, for all the blabbing about movies, this is a game), and things are pretty much as they were in Uncharted 2. This is no bad thing at all, as the controls there were nigh on perfect for the type of game it was. There are a few new touches, such as being able to throw back grenades, as well as some new guns and new melee moves and these are welcomed.
The multiplayer is a blast too. Naughty Dog and Sony have worked very hard with multiple betas to get this section absolutely on key and they seem to have nailed it. The maps are well thought out, the rank system is strong and the rewards are fun and ridiculous (my suited Nate multiplayer character now has a monocle). It’s good to see a return of the co-op campaign too, though this time it’s been fleshed out into a good 3-hour long exercise, which is a nice addition, and full of potential for future DLC.
I have a feeling the guy flying isn’t doing so well

There are frustrations to be had with the game, though. For instance, the enemy AI is very good in stealth sections and guards will notice when one is missing or if they hear a sound, so you have to retreat to hiding. However, if they do properly see you, be prepared for some long, long drawn out gunfights as the enemies suddenly quadruple in number and come at you in wave after wave of unapologetic and almost clairvoyant aggression – they know exactly where you are at all times. Similarly, some of the QTE-style sections are just a pain, and the game becomes more like Parappa the Rapper than Indiana Jones. It’s also disappointing to see extras (such as weapon and skin select) for completing the game completely removed from the game, as it removes some of the replayability of the single player campaign.

Uncharted 3 is a phenomenal game. It knocks just about every PS3 game out for six, barring a few. One of these few for me, though, is its predecessor, Among Thieves For all the beauty, set-pieces and great gunfights, the story feels a little too rushed and its over before you think it should really kick off at the end. However, this should take nothing away from the new game and it is certainly a game everyone should experience.
+ Stunning and engaging visuals
+ Another great story, as well as excellent voice acting and a superb score
+ Rock solid combat gameplay
+ Impressive multiplayer and co-op

– Not much different to Uncharted 2
– Huge difficulty spikes
Verdict: 9/10
Utterly astounding. It’s amazing how Naughty Dog have progressed as a company to produce such a stunning piece of entertainment.
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