Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Uncharted 3 (PS3)

Review: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)
All men dream… of games like this.
Written by: Philip

If you’re not already on the Uncharted train, that’s okay, because the plane hasn’t left yet (see what I did there? See, in the second one you’re on a tr… never mind). By now you’ve probably heard that Uncharted 3 is pretty good with multiple perfect scores and an overall Metacritic rating of 92. So is it just hype? Or is this third time around truly a masterpiece? If you ask me, Drake’s Deception is the new standard I will hold all new games to in terms of presentation. Even if you’ve played the previous two or if you are new to Nate’s story, I urge you to pick this one up. Whether you play video games to go on an adventure, enjoy a new experience, use your mind, or just to shoot stuff, Uncharted 3 does it all, and does it well. 

 Before getting mad that this is another Call of Madden rehash, there is enough changing around the core game (ie: multiplayer, environments, story, characters) that you don’t really notice it. There are two different kinds of sequels: A) a pre-planned continuation of events and story (think Lord of the Rings) and B) a sad attempt at trying to capitalize off the unexpected success of the original (think Transformers). That said, I still felt controls were good, but the usual Uncharted shooting issues are still around (ridiculous kick back, inaccurate aiming, and some enemies NEVER die), but it still ranks just behind Mass Effect 2 as the best cover-based 3rd person shooter. Mostly because I never feel “glued” to the environment and that I can detach myself at anytime. And because Drake is very maneuverable being able to dive behind cover or hop off a platform if you see an RPG coming. Also worth mentioning is the game has a way of helping you if you need it and leaving you alone if you don’t. If you are cruising through and don’t pause for a second, it assumes you know what you’re doing and you’re rarely see as much as a tutorial pop up. But if you get lost or can’t quite seem to get past a difficult area, hints will appear to give you clues on how to progress.
There were no meatball subs in the game. Imagine my disappointment.
Hands down this is the best looking game I’ve ever played and it makes me grateful for every single one of the 47 inches of 1080p that I have. One of my all time gripes while playing games is when cutscenes and extended cinematic trailers look as neat and pretty as a Pixar film and then gameplay looks like pre-school watercolor paintings went through a paper shredder. Naughty Dog has made the in-game animations and details look so good they were able to blend going in and out of cutscenes so smooth that often I was unsure whether or not the scene had ended and I was supposed to be controlling Drake or not (and an angry British fist to the face was the only indication that, yes, I was supposed to dodge that). I immediately noticed an incredible attention to detail in the character movement and even smaller things like sand getting on clothes or in people’s hair, and shirts flapping in the wind. Not to mention things much more noticeable like lighting and incredible set pieces. I only wish they took that effort and went one step further with the enemies and extras. I think my only complaint about the whole game is that every single henchman looks exactly the same. And it wouldn’t be so glaring if you didn’t have one of them join your crew and follow you around for 3 hours of the game as a constant reminder that someone in the studio must really, REALLY like Jason Statham.
Hey Jason. Hi Jason. Yo Jason. Sup Jason.
Acting isn’t usually on my grading scale, but it must be included here because the game comes to life through its actors who double as both the voice and motion capture actors. I especially like how much in-game chatter there is from the characters. It makes the product as a whole feel more alive. This isn’t just a run-and-gun adventure, you really care about what’s going on and are invested in these characters and their stories. I feel like we finally get a little insight into the past of our heroes in a way that makes them more human and more approachable. The story actually peels back the layers of Nate and you see how vulnerable he really is despite all the wisecracks and seemingly endless adrenalin. I wish they would delve just a little bit deeper into a darker, more real story, without any spoilers I’ll just say that you never get the sense that anyone is in any real danger. Ever.
No Nathans were harmed during the filming of Uncharted 3.
There’s a good pace between platforming and puzzle solving and gun play, but I felt that Naughty Dog couldn’t help but flex their graphical muscles every now and again to make the environments and levels a little more important than driving the story. To their credit though, through an 8 hour campaign on “Normal” there is only one level that seems to only be in there to say “appreciate how good our graphics are” and adding nothing to the narrative. Either way, I didn’t mind a little filler, especially when it’s in the form of a new chapter, and not level grinding or double-backing to areas you’ve already been.
Ahoy! I'm Pointless the Pirate..... aaaargh!
 The multiplayer keeps me playing the game. Co-op arena (local or online) is a blast. It’s brutally tough but they make it worth your while with quick leveling up and fun kick backs. It’s a good source of training if you’re hesitant to brave the online multiplayer fresh out of the campaign.

I could nit-pick any game, but the truth is Uncharted 3 is just fantastic. It’s well made and it’s silky smooth. The presentation is the best there is and Naughty Dog proves you can have a game that is fun, long, looks great, bug free, AND story driven. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall: 9.4 You know you want it, just get it.

So how much is this awesome game gonna cost?
Being a campaign driven game it didn’t take long for the price to come down. Released in November, the price was already in the mid-30’s by Christmas. currently shows its value at $32.96 used which is great if you only want it for the single player story. But don’t forget that this one requires an online pass to play the multiplayer which is $12 on the PlayStation Store. You may get lucky and find a used copy with the online code unused, but if you really want online multiplayer and co-op arena check out where I’ve seen several new/sealed copies go for $34.00 and free shipping. Some deals are hard to find, but they're out there.

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PSN ID: ShadyWoodland

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