Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is game of the year. That’s the easy assumption. But the majority of the voters would hand it off to Skyrim before it even drops based off the anticipation alone. What this game though does is it elevates the art level that is video games up to the highest peak. At times you feel like you are actually watching an action flick straight from the 1980’s, the glory years of the action film genre. Nathan Drake feels more and more like a buy able everyday normal guy thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Sure the game is one of the best of the year but it also might be a highlight in this generation of games. While the first two games in the series follow a basic formula of setting up the plot early, adding in some betrayal and then throwing in some super natural the first 70% of the game actually doesn’t contain any of that. It’s as if you are watching a summer blockbuster. What Naughty Dog does so well with this series outweighs what it doesn’t do exactly right. While most gamers complained about Nate’s clunky melee combat the developers took that to heart and tweaked it a bit to make it more cinematic and slightly more formulaic. But for gamers like me I play for the story and the Uncharted series features stories that leave you enthralled for hours on end. If I didn’t have a job, friends or even a girlfriend I am sure I would end up sitting there playing this game from start to finish in one big sitting. But if I am saying just this before the jump bet you are wondering what I’m going to say after??
The game’s story is nothing short of enthralling. From the very opening in the bar to the very closing in the desert Uncharted 3 packs a roller coaster worth of excitement through the entire 10 plus hours of gameplay we have. And unlike the previous Uncharted games it doesn’t follow the most basic formula that the other two did that made the game actually suffer. Instead of there being a twist or betrayal from one of the side characters that eventually leads into something exceedingly supernatural happening, this one just follows the basic formula of The Last Crusade. Like the third Indy film it focused mainly on Indy and father’s relationship, it was the core of the film itself. Much like that the game here focuses on the relationship between Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan. But this relationship isn’t a father and son one directly. You find out early on what exactly happens or what causes these two to meet, and I shall say it works perfectly but isn’t something that you expect from an Uncharted game. Familiar faces return such as Chloe Frazer from the previous game and she’s in there from the beginning but still some gamers may be weary of her, she’s gonna betray you like in the last one some of you will think top yourselves.
Of course this wouldn’t be an Uncharted game without the return of Elena Fisher. She’s an integral part of the series. After essentially being his sidekick in the first two games and then developing love interest it’s interesting to see what happens here in the relationship between Elena and Nate. And needless to say at the ending it’s quite satisfying albeit a bit stereotypical. For those of you expecting a deep RPG-esque story don’t. The Uncharted series may have interesting plots but they seem to be more like mimicking a movie than actually trying to be a deep game like the Final Fantasy series. That isn’t to say that the overall game doesn’t have a theme, but if you figure out the theme as you play through it really stands out and sticks with you to the very end.
Naughty Dog does a good job tweaking the gameplay that needed to be tweaked. The melee combat flows much better but is still wonky. The game’s basic mechanics are still the same. Running and jumping hasn’t changed and these core elements play huge in the game of course. The gun system isn’t really any different but not really that improved. The achievements still focus on you having to reach 30 kills with each gun which at times seems easy but it also works if you keep dying and having to redo a certain point with one weapon always there. It seems that at times the enemies have amazing aim with weapons like the sniper or even the rocket launcher as they seem to always hit you and when you shoot those guns it fails to even scratch the enemy. Maybe that’s just my bad shooting. It’s easy to take cover and shoot nonstop at the enemies but running around with a rocket launcher and shooting at whim is just as fun. While throwing grenades hasn’t changed it still feels a tad bit clunky but once again that could be me because I never used them in the first two games.
One new addition I like is more of an animation addition but at the same time it’s a gameplay mechanic. When an enemy has a gun and you beat him with melee you can take the gun he has in one fluid motion, as you knock him out his gun goes flying in the air and Drake catches it. While it is more like an animation than actual gameplay it still looks neat and you kind of freak out in a cool way when it happens. Other new improvements include the ability to force an enemy to blow up by pulling the pin from their grenade and thusly kicking them until they are far enough away to blow up. Another new feature that many fans have wished for for a while is the ability to throw back the enemies grenades. This can come in handy when you have a shit ton of baddies throwing grenades at you, two at a time. Of course you can only throw them back at a certain time, which is a downside.
The visuals were breathtaking to say the least. With the environments looking stunning and jaw dropping. Scenes like the chateau burning with Drake and Sully trying to escape show tremendous improvements in the series’ visuals as well as giving Hollywood a run for it’s money. The fire looked realistic while the building itself collapsed on top of our intrepid heroes. The city in Yemen where we encounter Elena also has that old world feel, like how it should be. The desert looks vast and endless as the sand itself could be right in front of you. While the jaw droppingly vast landscapes of the game look amazing a majority of the character models do not. While most people are drooling over the cut scenes in which you can see the very skin cells on Drake the “baddies” are all very basic looking. Characters like Sully, Elena, and Chloe all have immense detail while the main villains, Marlowe and Talbot have slightly less detail but even still these are minor details. The main cast looks great and the motion capture is great too. All of Drake’s movements look natural, or at least what would seem to be natural to us.
The voice acting along the lines of the motion control are superb and at times overwhelming with all the incredible stuff going on around you as the gamer. All your senses are tested as you sit and play this gem of a game. If other game companies are playing Uncharted they now know what the bar is set at to just make a decent game. This is the perfect game that will define this generation. Mixing gameplay seamlessly with the story having little to no cut scenes (those annoying ones from Final Fantasy bug me) but also having scenes in which the gamer controls the events.
The game’s online multiplayer is something I have tried only on this game. While many told me that the multiplayer in 2 was okay Naughty Dog went and fixed it. It’s more indepth and more well fun according to multiple sources. My brief experience with Team Deathmatch (out of all the modes) felt a bit overwhelming. Here we have 8 players on two teams essentially killing each other. While it is fun to be Draking it across the maps from the game it is a bit frustrating when a level 80 player wipes the floor with your ass all night long. Then there is the co-op missions that you can do online or split screen. This can be fun and it also opens up zany plots for each mission.
Essentially what I am saying is that Uncharted 3 is a masterpiece. A game that will define the PlayStation for what it is. A hardcore gaming machine. You’ll be hard pressed to find a game of this quality on the X-Box or Wii (except Zelda). And I am not just talking visually but also on more than that, Gears of War 3 is most likely the closest you can get on the 360. So it is with great pleasure I hand out my first 10/10 game of the year and most likely the only one. So Drake you should start making them Game of the Year Speeches while you are at it.