If one was to compare the Uncharted series to anything, it would certainly be the Indiana Jones of video games. From its jaw-dropping gameplay and visuals to the various twists and turns players discover in the series, the adventures of Nathan Drake always manages to leave people wide-eyed and clamoring for more. At the end of last year his latest journey Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was brought to PS3 owners across the world, continuing on with its trend of extreme treasure hunting that would make any Discovery Channel host envious.
The game starts off with Nathan and his mentor Sully trading Nate's ring to Talbot for cash. After accusations of counterfeit bills Nathan and Sully discover the real buyer of the ring: Katherine Marlowe, who twenty years before had tried to steal the same ring, only fourteen year-old Nathan got to it before her. The ring, as it turns out, holds the key to the secret treasure of Sir Francis Drake. Along with Charlie Cutter and their old friend Chloe Frazer, the four of them set out to find the truth behind Sir Drake's secret quest for Queen Elizabeth. When Marlowe and Talbot use their powers to thwart our heroes' journey, it takes every bullet, any form of transportation, and all the breath in their lungs to reach the peak of their adventure, but what happens when the treasure they seek out isn't the one they imagined?
Throughout Uncharted 3 you will find yourself solving puzzles that will lead you closer to Drake's hidden treasure, with each puzzle harder than the last. From cranking contraptions to piecing puzzles together each puzzle you will come across will take much time and effort to complete, with the reward at the end sometimes involving Marlowe's henchmen trying to take you down. For that you can use guns, grenades, missile launchers, and your own bare hands to take down any enemy that you face. At times you'll have to think quickly and run away from dangerous waters, crumbling building, and creepy spiders that only wish to kill you if they get close enough.
There are times when the control scheme of the game can be a little bit confusing. Hiding behind walls and reloading your weapons may take a bit of time to figure out, but in the long run moving around Nathan and taking down Marlowe's henchmen is quite easy. If you've played the first two Uncharted games, then you probably won't have any issue with the controlling aspect of it. Those who are new to the franchise, however, will be in need of a bit of practice.
The one thing you can always count on for the Uncharted series is that it will keep its gamers drawn in with its story and dialogue, and Drake's Deception is no exception. Here we see a story told with many great plot-twists, heart-stopping moments, and some of the best action sequences of the year. You feel for Nathan Drake the same way you would feel for, say, Robert Downey, Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes or -- the more obvious one -- Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones, and you also learn about his past in a way that makes him more human. Hearing the banter between Nolan North (Drake) and Richard McGonagle (Sully) is at times a riot, with a sort of Gibson/Glover Lethal Weapon vibe in the way they deliver their lines. Like Arkham City, Drake's Deception easily draws in the attention of gamers and movie buffs alike. The epic John Williams-like score from composers Greg Edmonson, Azam Ali, and Clint Bajakian alone will pull you into Nathan Drake's realm.
The Achille's Heel in Uncharted 3, however, is the graphics. These worlds you visit -- from Yemen to Colombia -- are gorgeous, no doubt, and the vehicles and characters you meet and play look great. Using motion capture, Naughty Dog was able to use true reactions to events that happen around Nathan Drake. At times I thought the characters moved in a more true-to-life fashion than the recent Robert Zemeckis films, but not without issues. Case in point, in Chapter 17 (where Nathan battles through many henchmen on the plane he snuck on) I found Nathan stuck in one of the plane's crates, a sheer feat considering that there was no way for your character to get into the wooden boxes. I had to start from the previous checkpoint many times because of my character's glitchy ability to get stuck in impossible places, and while there should be an update fixing that issue coming soon it still irked me that these glitches were there to begin with.
The single-player game will take you around ten hours to complete on Easy Mode, but there is plenty to go back to after you beat it. Throughout almost each level there are more hidden treasures to discover, and with the Level Select section of Single Player mode you will be able to revisit them and relive your favorite moments from the game. Whether it's the opening barroom brawl scene or escaping the sinking cruise ship there are plenty of instances of the game that you will want to try again. There is, as well, the multiplayer aspects of the game.
Uncharted 3 has your usual Team Deathmatch/Free For All modes that you see in many first-person shooters, not to mention a Capture-The-Flag-styled treasure match called Plunder, but it's the co-op areas that keep the game shining. Co-op Adventure Hunter Arena will not only have you facing off against endless amounts of enemy AIs, but also real players found on the web. Then there is Co-op Adventure, which will have you and up to two others online or friends in the same room as you take on a five-chapter story mode that features areas from both Among Thieves and Drake's Deception. There is plenty to go back to when you've reached the Uncharted 3's end credits.
- Breathtaking story, visuals, soundtrack
- Great amount of puzzles and gun battles
- Multiplayer modes come in the bucketload
- Character animations can sometimes be unnatural
- Learning some of the survival tactics will take some time for Uncharted newbies
Uncharted 3 is another reason why video games should be looked at the same way as motion pictures. The story, characters, and worlds you will visit in the game are awe-inspiring, and it helps that the gameplay elements and puzzles add onto the wonderment of this title. Its multiplayer aspects almost guarantee that you'll be revisiting this game many times. If you own a PS3, then there is no reason why Drake's Deception shouldn't be in your library, even if you haven't played the first two Uncharted games.
FINAL GRADE: 9.7 (out of 10)