After roughly ten brutal hours in which I had climbed up a Himalayan mountain from the dangling ruins of a train (twice!), infiltrated a Turkish prison, singlehandedly destroyed a tank and found the mythical city of Shambhala to then destroy it, I was emotionally and physically (well, my character was) drained. UNCHARTED 2 was finished and I was only 4 hours into the release day; I had managed to get my copy a day early. I was ready for UNCHARTED 3.
Since the beginning, Nathan Drake’s adventures have taken us across the globe. From the lost city of El Dorado, in Drake’s Fortune, to the mountains of Tibet in Among Thieves. Naughty Dog’s third instalment begins somewhere a little less exotic; a dark and grungy London pub. `
In true Uncharted fashion, Drake’s Deception opens with a montage that, coupled with the high calibre graphics and Greg Edmonson’s astounding soundtrack, rivals and likely surpasses that of any Hollywood opening scene. Among Thieves’ opening provides a literal cliffhanger and in all honesty would be pretty difficult to top. So kudos to the Uncharted team on their decision to bring the intensity down a notch and use the opening to simply showcase the new hand to hand combat mechanics. After five minutes of being hurled into bathroom tiles by a large Cockney thug and smashing countrymen across the face with a beer bottle, you’ll begin to wonder why there was ever a need for guns in Uncharted.
Just as you meet the game’s main villain, the Helen Mirren-esque Katherine Marlowe, you find yourself thrown into Drake’s past; something that has always been very shrouded throughout the games. Playing as a scrawny, teenage Drake, I have to admit, was not my idea of fun but it serves as a brilliant narrative device in showing us how he met Sully, Drake’s mentor and father figure throughout the series.
UNCHARTED 3 picks up the pace from there, bringing us back to the present day as Nate and co begin their journey to discover the Atlantis of the Sands before Marlowe and her army of skin-headed thugs.
It will come as no surprise when I say that the graphics in Drake’s Deception are stunning, from the rusting metal of a pirate ship, to the intricate designs of a French chateau down to every detailed grain of sand in the Rub’ al Khali desert. The character models, which have progressed tremendously since Drake’s Fortune, are superb. The already realistic characters are even more believable this time around, especially since Naughty Dog have fixed the disturbing eyes that Elena and Chloe had in Among Thieves to show real emotion in this instalment.
UNCHARTED 3 has some pretty spectacular levels: fleeing the chateau as it burns down around you, escaping from a flooding pirate ship, boarding a plane before it takes off and chasing down a convoy on the back of a horse; yet somehow it feels empty. Whilst many gamers criticise the Uncharted series for being so linear I’ve always preferred it, the puzzles the game offers are challenging enough without having to find which direction to go. As Playstation’s flagship, Uncharted focuses on showing off the Playstation 3 engine and what can be done with it. While the cutscenes are superbly written, acted out and are beautiful to look at, a lot of them could be incorporated into gameplay.
The ending of UNCHARTED 3 is probably its biggest downfall. In Drake’s Fortune, Nate had to go up against his old friend Navarro in order to stop the cursed treasure of El Dorado being taken to the mainland and used by the latter as a tool of evil. 2009’s Among Thieves, put the fortune hunter up against war criminal Zoran Lazarevic as the mythical city of Shambhala collapsed around them. Drake’s Deception; well let’s just say that the fight most akin to a ‘boss battle’ is more than a little disappointing.
All in all though UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception is a brilliant game and any fan of the series needs to play it. For those who have yet to ‘holster up’ I’d suggest starting from the beginning, or at least playing the fantastic Among Thieves. The only question now is when, if ever, we will get UNCHARTED 4? Only time will tell and we all know I’ll be waiting eagerly.