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And here we are with the next in the great Fall lineup this year. Released on November 1st exclusively for the Playstation 3, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 3 is likely to be one of the best selling games of the year. I was a big fan of the previous title in the series so I was pretty excited to get started on this sure-to-be-epic adventure. The first few levels blew my mind, but unfortunately, those feelings departed shortly thereafter.
Once again, Sony’s flagship protagonist Nathan Drake has an itch to get his ass in some trouble and search for another lost city of fame and fortune. This time around it’s the “Altantis of the Sands”, which Nathan believes Sir Francis Drake was searching for many years ago during a period of time where his documented whereabouts were questionable. What actually resides in this city is unknown, but that’s enough to get our boy, like Indiana Jones, into the trouble he’s known for.
Several familiar faces including long-time friend and mentor Victor Sullivan, as well as Chloe and Elana will return to assist in the adventure, but I found the neatest character to be a young teenage Drake. Early in the game, you’ll flash back 20 years to see where and how Nathan and Sulli met and became friends.
Overall I really enjoyed the story – it’s very well written. From the beginning I actually felt like I was part of an action-adventure movie as the cinematics and game design really drew me in and made me feel like I was Drake. Unfortunately though, I felt that some of the levels were just thrown in as fluff and didn’t add much to the overall story.
The thing that stood out to me the most though was the game’s overall presentation. The graphics are absolutely beautiful and the soundtrack that accompanies your adventure is phenomenal. It almost feels like something John Williams would have put together. I think what really sets this game apart from others on the PS3 is the lighting and the truly lifelike animations. It’s difficult to tell the differences between the cut-scenes and the in-game graphics because much of the time, it’s what appears as a seamless real-time transition between the two. Uncharted 3 simply shows that proper coding and development can utilize “dated” hardware to render beautiful visuals.
The game’s 22 chapters took me 9 hours to complete on the normal difficulty. I found the levels to be wonderfully designed from the very beginning. Various trails through the levels create the illusion that you aren’t playing through a linear path. For the most part, the platforming mechanics hold your hand, and instead, focus on having you figure out where you need to jump and climb while the game handles the rest for you. Some of the action platforming sequences though are pretty damn intense. To that point, the final level to me even had a strong Halo vibe to it.
There aren’t many puzzles this time around and those that are present aren’t all that challenging, but I did still enjoy solving them. There is now a heavy emphasis on hand to hand fighting with lots of QuickTime sequences, but after being spoiled by Batman’s combat system, I felt limited in my thug-destroying options.
Now, as the game went on, I became less interested in it. The final half of the game is pretty much enter an area, firefight, move to next area, firefight, rinse and repeat. I didn’t find this fun at all. The first half of the game is equal parts exploring, platforming, action sequences, puzzle solving and gun fights. Why change that half way through? I wanted to see way more puzzles and a lot heavier emphasis on platforming. And who the hell are all of the goons I keep killing anyway?
Near the end of the game are a series of annoyingly cheap fights as well. Now, don’t confuse me for thinking that things that are challenging are bad – Dark Souls is hard as balls and I loved every second of it. But some of these encounters were just cheap as hell with an overwhelming number of enemies that can one-shot you. Luckily a great checkpoint system is in place that almost instantly loads a game just seconds prior to your death.
A split-screen and online co-op are available as well, offering different takes on several of the missions from the campaign, but these rely entirely on shooting. I would have liked to see some co-op missions that were different from the campaign that required puzzle solving and platforming over simply shooting mindless goons. Overall the co-op was decent and if I didn’t have any other multiplayer games right now, I’d probably be interested in playing it further with friends, but as of now, there are better games to spend your online time with in that regards.
Several multiplayer modes are included as well, each offering money for killing enemies and completing objectives so that you can unlock new clothing options, weapon enhancements and kill-streak rewards to dominate your foes. But, like Uncharted 2, I just couldn’t get into this multiplayer – I thought it was boring. But that could be that I was continually placed into matches with per-pubescent, rather-vocal children who didn’t speak English.
It may come off to some sensitive gamers that I’ve been trash-talking their new favorite game. I’m just a bit disappointed with this title as it started off so great and then fell off a cliff half way through. Regardless, there is great production value in Drakes Deception and if you’re looking for an adventure that really makes you feel like you’re a part of it, this certainly is still worth your time. To me, the multiplayer component is a waste of time, but the single player story is great, assuming the downfalls I’ve mentioned don’t turn you away.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Commentated Game-play: http://www.youtube.com/ZGRWhyUDead
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