The first thing that needs to be said about Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is that it is a technical marvel. The graphics, physics, animations, voice capture and motion acting are all state of the art and developer Naughty Dog seems to set a new bar with what can be done with a video game.
It almost seems unfair to knock Uncharted 3 for its faults, since its highs are some of the best things I’ve seen in gaming. But the one thing that always annoys me about the Uncharted games is the combat. It takes several bullets to take down an enemy whereas most games will let you do take down an enemy combatant with a well-placed head shot. This gets worse as the game goes on as enemies start to get much more armor and take more bullets to put down and they also get shotguns which makes it impossible to handle two of these enemies in close range.
In general I really like the gameplay flow of Uncharted 3 where you’re traversing and shooting enemies and solving puzzles once in a while. But there are instances where you’ll end up in a battle arena with dozens of foes and this is usually where the fun of the game breaks down for me. The shooting gets to be a little monotonous and fairly often these sections of the game have a difficulty spike since enemies will flank you from different angles. Once you’re dealing with enemies with shotguns, this usually means that you can be one-hit killed by someone you never even saw, and that usually feels a little cheap.
There is plenty of platforming gameplay in Uncharted 3, and there are quite a few puzzles, but unlike previous games there doesn’t seem to be any big moments during that game that involve solving a puzzle via traversal. That being said, Uncharted 3 does offer some of the most challenging puzzles in an Uncharted game to date. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t to the difficulty or number of the Glyph puzzles in Assassin’s Creed 2 or Brotherhood, but it does give the game a little more depth in my opinion.
The Story and Characters are really what keep me coming back to the Uncharted series, and Uncharted 3 is no different in this regard. The writing in this game is easily among the best of the video game medium. And the voice acting and facial animation let you buy into these characters even if they are just digital renderings.
The best parts of Uncharted 3 to me have little to do with the core gameplay mechanic of taking cover and shooting. Instead, among the parts I loved had to do with following someone, being chased, and wandering around lost in the desert. There are other examples I could name but I don’t want to spoil the whole game for you. But the key to these sequences is that they slow down the pace of the game for a bit and let you take a breather and marvel at the beautiful digital world that Naughty Dog has created. And you really need those breathers especially after some of the larger intense gunfights that I mentioned earlier on.
I do wish Naughty Dog had adjusted with the times and made the game a little easier for a mainstream audience on Normal much like Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty have done in recent years. But outside of that small detail, this is a fantastic game. Other games may give you more things to do, but the things you do here are extremely polished and fine-tuned. If you are interested in the Video Game medium in any shape or form, you must play this game as it is an achievement in the industry in terms of Technology and Storytelling.
NOTE: This Review and Score are for the Single Player portion of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.