Monday, 7 November 2011

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Review

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is here and its a monumental game. 2 years on since the release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves in 2009 Naughty Dog once again raises the bar for the 3rd person action genre delivering stunning graphics, sound and gameplay making Drake’s Deception the systems current must own game. Uncharted 3 see’s Nate and Sully on the quest to find the lost city of Ubar also know as the “Atlantis of the sands” whilst also being pursued by a shady organization headed by Katherine Marlowe a mysterious character from the duo’s past. The story spans multiple continents and takes the characters to a variety of different locations such as a dingy London bar, a lost chateau in eastern france and ghost town in the middle of the Rub ‘al Khali desert to name a few.

The story follows similar tropes to that of the other uncharted games with Nate and Sully traveling the globe to find a mythical lost city whilst also stopping a group of evil doers in the process. That said Uncharted had never really been strong on the story side, but its the way in which were told the story which shines. The script and voice acting are as amazing as ever helping you relate to and care about the good guys and hate the bad guys in equal measure. The back and fourths between Nate and Sully especially help to make these two the most fun and relatable duo in recent gaming memory, and in Uncharted 3 we get to learn more about their back story and how the 2 came to meet in one of the games more memorable chapters.

Gameplay in Uncharted can basically be boiled down to shooting gallerys, platforming sections, puzzles and set pieces however Naughty Dog mix it up enough that the game never gets stale and you are never stuck in one place long enough to get bored as the pacing is pretty perfect. The game adds new emphasis on hand to hand combat a feature which took a back seat in the previous games is now in the forefront and the game opens with an awesome fight sequence in a london bar. The fight mechanics are reminiscent of the recent Batman Arkham City with square to punch, circle to grab and triangle to counter there are also context sensitive moves and finishers such as throwing someone through a window or my favorite the ability to slap somebody with a fish at one point. New weapons have also been added to the mix with my favorites being the incredibly powerful scoped revolver the “Tau Sniper” and the “Sawed Off Shotgun” which can blast the strongest of enemies away with its two shots.

The most memorable moments of all the Uncharted games have been their set pieces and Naughty Dog turns it up to 11 with this latest iteration. Moments like clinging to the cargo hanging from the back of a plane as it is exploding over the Rub ‘al Khali or running from a wall of water down the corridors of a sinking cruise liner are sure to stay with you long after the game is complete and will have you reloading these chapters to play them again and show them to friends.

Drakes Deception also sports some of the greatest graphics I’ve ever seen and really show off what the PS3 is capable of. All of the main characters are beautifully rendered with incredible detail and each of the games locations look beautiful wether it be the grimy back streets of london or the rusting ship graveyard they ooze with detail from the smallest assets to the awesome vistas. The game also makes use of some very cinematic camera angles at points which make the game feel like you are playing a great action scene from a movie like Indiana Jones for example. Lighting is also used to great effect and really helps to set the scene as shadows drape the walls and enemies are silhouetted against bright spotlights. The sound design is also very impressive and Drakes Deception features an incredible score as well as a multitude of great sound effects which really help to immerse you in the game.

One of the issues I had with the game is the enemy character models tend to repeat which is understandable and not a huge problem but did start to get to me after I had killed my 30th red shirted man, its just a shame that they couldn’t do more to vary them. I also encountered a few graphical glitches whilst playing like enemy bodies clipping through walls and one time Sully exploded for a brief moment again not huge problems and occur in most games but were still noticeable.

The story took approximately 8 - 10 hours to complete on my first play through on Normal difficulty which is comparable to that of Uncharted 2 however there are 101 hidden treasures to find through out the game which may keep you coming back for another play through as well as 4 difficulties (Easy, Normal, Hard and Crushing) which each have their own trophies upon completion. Drakes Deception also features some Co-op missions which are unrelated to the main story and are instead reworkings of story missions and multiplayer maps which can be played both online and split screen.

The story of Drakes Deception might be great and the incentive of trophies and treasures may have you coming back for a second play but the longevity of this game is really to be found in its incredible multiplayer which will have you returning time and time again. Uncharted 3 takes 2’s multiplayer mode and expands it greatly with new game types, maps, weapons, unlocks and community integration. The game ships with 12 multiplayer maps 8 new and 4 reskinned Uncharted 2 maps, Many of the maps have dynamic elements to them for example the Airstrip level begins with the players fighting on moving trucks and a cargo plane as they travel down a runway then a few minutes in a cutscene trigers in which the players arrive at an airport hanger which occasional attacked by fighter planes throughout the rest of the match. Other maps include a “Chateau” which burns throughout the match and a “Desert Village” which features a sand storm that occasionally blows in and obscures the players vision.

There are 6 Modes which available at launch on multiplayer these are:

- Team Deathmatch which pits 2 teams of 5 against one another.

- Three Team Deathmatch in which 3 teams of 2 compete.

- Free For All is 8 players all against.

- Team Objective gives teams points for completing assigned goals.

- Plunder which is similar to Capture the Flag seen in other games.

- And Hardcore which had no boosters, no kickbacks and friendly fire

Theres is also 3 co-op modes available they are:

- Co-op Arena where players must work together to survive waves of enemies similar to Horde mode in the Gears of War games

- Co-op Hunted Arena where a team of 2 heroes must try to complete a set goal whilst another team of 2 villains joined by some AI must try to stop them.

- And the aforementioned co-op missions or “Co-op Adventure”.

Multiplayer also features a level up and unlock system similar to that seen in Call of Duty, as you play more games and earn more kills you gain money and level up, leveling up unlocks new weapons, mods, outfits and skins which can then be purchased with your cash. You can customize your character buying new clothes and taunts however it is still pretty limited as you cannot change the facial shape or add hair you have to instead have the same bulky bald guy, you cant for example make a skinny wimp of a guy, a big fat dude or even a female character which is a shame as you want to create an avatar that you can embody. You can play as Nate, Sully, Elena and the rest of the cast if you should choose but you will have to unlock and pay for them by playing games with your custom character first.

A few new features have been added to Uncharted multiplayer one of which is the Power Play, they activate during a match when a team is losing by a large amount and gives the losing team an opportunity to even the odds. These are a great addition as they give you an incentive to keep playing even if your team is losing by large amounts. Another new addition is the Medal Kickback which is similar to a kill streak in Call Of Duty giving the player a special bonus such as unlimited ammo for a short time, however they are gained by earning a set number of medals instead of kills. Medals are earned in a variety of ways such as getting multiple kills or getting creative with your kills such as pulling enemies over a ledge they can also be earned for supporting your team mates.

Overall Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception is an amazing game and another incredible achievement from Naughty Dog. It is a must own for any PS3 owner even if you haven't played the previous games(which I recommend you do) you are sure to have a blast but for returning players it will be even greater. And once the dust has settled on the single player you have the multiplayer to dig your teeth into. Multiplayer and the unlock system is sure to keep you coming back for more and playing late into the night telling your self one more match one more level. Plus Naughty Dog have already announced that 4 multiplayer map packs will be rolled out across the next 12 months which you can already preinvest in with the Uncharted 3 Fortune Hunters Club which for £19.99 will give you instant access to not only the 4 map packs when they are released but also a number of multiplayer skin packs which are already available.

I give Drake's Deception a very strong and enthusiastic 9/10 a few small flaws keep me from calling this game perfect but I can’t see anyone being disappointed by Nathan Drakes latest adventure and the multiplayer is sure to be a hit.

Still undecided? Check out the Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception Launch Trailer