All the pictures are from Ign.com. They won't mind...hopefully.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
"It's Surprisingly Average!"
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
Reviewed By: Lobsterfang, The Gaming Monolith
Entertaining Gameplay (usually)
Awesome Acting and Dialogue
Stupid New Fighting System
Lame Formulaic Story That Feels Rushed Out And Padded
Online Multiplayer Requires An Online Pass
The first Uncharted was, for the most part, a pretty okay game. Aside from the truly beautiful graphics, the game wasn't anything too special. Sure, its cutscenes were very well made and that made the game feel truly cinematic, and its Tomb Raider style of Shooty-Climby-Puzzly gameplay was entertaining at times, but I thought its gun mechanics were kind of mediocre which lead to some very frustrating gunfights.
The 2nd Uncharted, on the other hand, was miles above the 1st one. Everything was done better in the 2nd one, the gunfights, the graphics, the setpieces; it was just a truly excellent game, and one of the funnest games I've ever played might I add.
So when a third game was announced I was a little concerned, I mean I knew that Naughty Dog couldn't let the series end on the 2nd one (they probably won't end it on the third one either) but I was concerned, because how can the third one possibly be better when Uncharted 2 set the bar so high?
Well after seeing it get perfect 10s from every game review site and their dog, and even a couple of personal recommendations from friends, I decided to get caught up in the hype and buy it. To my great disappointment, I found out that Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is not nearly as good as most people are making it out to be.
The first red flag went off when I got to the title screen and saw that it had taken the same format as the Modern Warfare games. You know, three boxes that say Campaign, Multiplayer, and Co-Op. This frightens me because to me this is saying that the Multiplayer is just as important, if not more, than the Singleplayer. And I didn't buy U3 for the Multiplayer, I bought it for the Singleplayer. But whatever, let's just get on with this. *selects campaign*
Uncharted 3's story is very similar to Uncharted 2's. Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter thief guy of sorts, starts out with what was supposed to be a normal job with a couple of his friends. (Well a normal job for a treasure hunter thief guy anyway.) On this job they discover a clue that points to something much larger than what they thought (in this case, the fable "Atlantis of the Sands" in the Rub' al Khali Desert) which leads to a globetrotting adventure much like Indiana Jones, where you have to climb cliffs and large buildings, solve puzzles, and battle the evil organization that is also after what you're looking for. (I'm still not sure why so many henchmen decide to follow one lady, I think they're like Team Rocket or something.)
Also in this story is some flashbacks where we get to learn about Nate's past as well as an emphasis on Nate and Sully's friendship. What's more, we get a villian that actually has personal connections with Drake & Friends. This is new because in the past the villains were usually just random guys with an unusually large amount of henchmen to send after you...well I guess Uncharted 3 is still like that but in this case it's not just some random guy, it's this lady named Katherine Marlowe who is the person that actually got Nate and Sully together in the first place. There's also some random guy named Talbot that is always following Marlowe around and I'm not sure how he fits into things. I guess if we're dealing with Team Rocket here, then Talbot is Meowth, if you know what I mean.
Overall, I wasn't really impressed with the story. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the acting, which is fantastic. The dialogue made me laugh. And it's always fun to watch (or play) the many ways Nate manages to get out of ridiculously tight situations. But as far as the plot goes, it's really not that good. It's incredibly formulaic, I just told you that it basically has the same plot as Uncharted 2. Not only that, but the story felt very rushed out and padded to me.
There was all this buildup and crazy things getting revealed, and then the game just suddenly ends. The ending felt very rushed, left a lot of unanswered questions, and without spoiling anything, one of the lamest final boss' ever.
The worst of all is this segment that covers about 3 chapters, which takes place in a ruined shipyard and then eventually on a boat. This part in the story added nothing to the plot and really just felt padded out. I'm probably just bitter because the majority of the most frustrating gunfights took place in this segment (more on that later) but seriously, tell me if this sounds right to you: A random villain that you had no prior knowledge of his existance kidnaps you, you beat him, and then you move on to much more important matters. Keep in mind that this shipyard segment occurs about 2/3 in the game. It's like the filler episodes you get when you're watching Naruto or something, very annoying.
In addition to the shipyard segment, there's about 2 chapters where you literally do nothing but walk around while the story tells itself around you. I guess it can be argued that this was done to make the story more interactive, which I can kind of agree with, but it's not making me want to play through the game again.
Now that I've told you the bad stuff I feel like I should mention at this time that I really like the characters in this game. This is probably because the amazing motion capture acting makes them feel so believable, but I genuinely do like their personalities and banter. I've heard a lot of criticism towards Nathan Drake from a certain famous reviewer, but I honestly like the guy. I find his wisecracks funny, I mean if I were3 in an intense firefight and a grenade landed next to me, I would probably shout expletives and dark sarcasm too. I also think that the reason he's always acting like a wiseguy is because he has a pretty horrible life, and making wisecracks all the time is the only way he knows how to cope with it. Plus he really does care deeply for his friends, which I find nice, because I like his friends too.
Uncharted 3 is a very, very very very, very, pretty game. I don't think there's any arguments there. The scenery, lighting, people, all look amazing. The amount of motion capture that went into this game is impressive too, the way Nate walks and runs looks very realistic. He stumbles a little when you're going up a steep incline, he pushes himself of the walls when he's running in a close corridor; it doesn't sound like much, but this is an impressive attention to detail that you don't see much in games.
The water effects are still some of the best you'll see out there, it's quite awesome to roll through the water just to see the many ways you can soak your clothes. In addition to that this game also introduces...wait for it...FIRE! And I'm going to go ahead and call it, the best looking fire to appear in a video game so far.
The physics are amazing too. There are segments where you'll be fighting in a boat or a plane, and as you can imagine, aiming a gun on a boat during a storm would probably be a lot harder than aiming a gun on solid ground. So you have to compensate for the swaying and such. I should point out, however, that while this is impressive, it can get a little annoying at times, but nothing too annoying, I mean it's nothing compared to the annoyances in the gameplay...
Uncharted 3 is much like the Uncharteds before it. Its a third-person cover based shooter, with some platforming and fighting thrown in too (This 3rd Uncharted has a special emphasis on fighting, which had some new mechanics added in to it.)
Before, the fighting system went like this: You pressed Square to punch...and that was about it. Okay sometimes if the enemy had enough health they would counter your punch, and you would have to press Triangle to block their attack, and then you pressed Square again. And if you managed to sneak behind an enemy, you press Square to take him out stealthily in one blow. I liked this because it was quick, easy, simple, and much more satisfying than pressing a stick to thonk someone with a knife or gunbutting them in the face. It's how the melle should be in a shooter.
Uncharted 3 on the other hand, tries to be a little more complex than that. Enemies are now a lot harder to take down when you try to just punch them. They will counter you more, they will grab you and you'll have to mash circle to break free, and while you're fighting one enemy another one can sneak up and try punching you so you'll have to counter them while you're already fighting someone else. I know, how rude of them.
This might sound better because it provides more options when fighting, and there are segments like a big bar fight at the beginning where it's really quite fun, but when it doesn't work (during the gunfights) it reeeeally doesn't work. And spoiler, most of the game's fights are gunfights, you know why? Because it's a third-person cover based shooter!
Here's why I don't think the new fighting system works: I think it draws a lot of comparisons to Batman: Arkham Asylum/City's fighting system. I can see why they would want to imitate Batman, because it is an excellent fighting system, but here's the thing, NATHAN DRAKE IS NOT BATMAN. Batman has the ability to take down several knuckleheads in about 10 seconds. For Nate, it takes about 10 seconds to beat down one knucklehead. And when you're in the middle of an intense gunfight with two sniper knuckleheads with their lasers trained on your head, a heavily armored knucklehead with a shot creeping up from behind, and a grenade launcher knucklehead blasting you from across the room, you can see why a melee function that takes about 10 seconds can be a problem.
And again, not to put a finer point on things, but Uncharted 3 is mainly a Third-Person Cover Based Shooter. In a shooter, I believe the melee should be quick, simple and easy. So you can quickly take out an enemy that gets to close, and then get back to the enemies that are shooting the crap out of you. And not only that, but you shouldn't have to put your gun away and engage in a sporty sparing match while everyone else in the room shoots you apart.
I know some people will probably challenge me by saying thins like "Well the fighting is now more complex and challenging, you're just upset because it's more hard." or "I like this because it adds a lot more variety to the gameplay." or "Well if you don't like punching, then just shoot them." First of all, yes the game is harder, but not in the good way, it's hard in the unfair way. There are several badly designed rooms where the enemies surround you and get really close and you only option is to punch them, because sometimes they'll just punch you if they get close enough. This makes a lot of fights very annoying in a trial and error sort of way, where you have to try and make it to the cover you think is best, learn how to take out the enemies in a certain pattern every time, and sometimes just trying until you get lucky. I'm just glad Naughty Dog wasn't stupid enough to make the enemies infinitely respawn, or else things probably would have been impossibly hard. And yes I like variety too, like I said I enjoyed the fights where it was melee only, but the fighting system and the gunplay just don't work well together and it makes things very frustrating, and needlessly hard.
Wow that was a long rant, well while I'm still complaining, I'll say that a lot of the old problems are still prevalent. Like you'll still accidentally glue yourself to the nearest cover when you were just trying to roll out of a sniper's sights, which leads to getting killed. And the game will still glitch when an event isn't activated right, and again usually leads to you getting killed. But now that I've gotten the bad out of the way, let's talk about the good.
The game still has its moments of sheer awesome fun-ness. There are some truly intense moments like trying to escape a burning building, or a plane that's about to crash, and many more. I still think climbing all over gigantic things like cliffs, buildings, and architecture is fun, and that leads to some interesting fights here and there.
A big improvement over the second Uncharted is the puzzles. In Uncharted 2, the puzzles weren't really puzzles, they were more like gigantic statues that you had to climb on and then you pressed Triangle to pull a lever. In Uncharted 3 you actually, you know, have to figure out how the puzzle works. There are some very interesting puzzle in here that I enjoyed.
Despite the fact that I had some major issues with the gameplay, it still for the most part manages to be entertaining.
This part is easy, because the sound is excellent. The original score is excellent, the voice talent is excellent, the sound effects are excellent. I literally did not hear anything that I had a problem with...moving on.
Anyway, after I finished the game and sat through the absurdly long credits (keep in mind that I was still upset over the bogus ending) I figured I'd select the box that says "Multiplayer" and see if that was any good. What I got was a message that said I needed to redeem my Online Pass or buy one for $9.99...an Online Pass? AN ONLINE PASS?! You mean that stupid thing that we're always complaining about EA and Ubisoft using? Naughty Dog got in on this?! *sigh* So yes, I bought Uncharted 3 used. I know, I'm a terrible person and I hate myself. And I guess it's my own fault for not knowing that it required an Online Pass before I bought it. Since I bought the game used I have to pay $9.99 if I want to play any of the Online features. And forgive me if I'm being too stubborn, but I kind of refuse to do that, so yeah no Online Multiplayer for me I guess. Sorry I can't tell you how it is in this review.
I then went over to the Co-Op box to see if I could do anything there. Co-Op is like Spec Ops in MW3. You have several missions that tie-in to the main story, as well as the popular "Arena" survival mode from Uncharted 2.
As mentioned above, I can't play any of these online, but I can play offline splitscreen. I wish you could play Arena mode solo because I'm quite the sucker for survival/horde type modes, but I hate playing them Online because I'm an antisocial weirdo. But whatever, I guess Offline Splitscreen is the next best thing, and it's something Uncahrted 2's Arena mode didn't have.
In Arena mode you fight off waves of enemies until the round ends, and, of course, every round gets progressively harder. To keep things interesting, every round has a certain goal. For example, a round may have you move a treasure from a certain location to a treasure box in another location, or you have to stay in a certain area or you won't get any points for you kills, and my personal favorite, the standard shoot guys until the round ends. As far as I can tell, there's no way to just keep the goal the same throughout but I admittedly didn't mess around with the options that much, so there might be a way to change that, I should probably look into that...
Oh and a feature I really, REALLY, like is how Arena mode has lives. You and your partner(s) start out with a certain ammount of lives, and if you and your partner(s) all die on Round 3 or something, you get to start again at the beginning of Round 3, you just lose a life is all. This is a brilliant idea and one that more survival modes should be using. That is all.
When the round is over you tally up your points which levels you up and gives you money to buy new weapons, characters, and clothes for you customizable character. Pretty cool, and it will definitely get you to keep playing.
A story with fun characters and funny dialogue, but kind of rushed with obvious padding that does nothing to advance the plot, and a pretty bad ending that was very abrupt and left unanswered questions.
A dang pretty game. There's an attention to detail that you don't see in most games.
A frustrating fighting mechanic leads to some frustrating encounters in frustrating gunfights. It has some incredibly fun moments, though.
If you bought the game used, which I did, you have to pay $9.99 which I think is a load of garbage. So I can't really say if the Online Multiplayer is good or not, but I can say that Online Passes are stupid, and I just hope I'm not the only person that thinks so. I was able to play the Offline Splitscreen Co-Op, which I did find very fun. So yeah... take what you want out of this.
Everything in this category is excellent. Especially the score and the voice acting. Nothing else to say really.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is an entertaining game that barely manages to shine through a mess of frustrating issues. The graphics, voice acting, and general direction is impressive, but that didn't make the game any less frustrating for me. After seeing the universal praise this game is getting, I'm beginning to think I'm the only person that had such issues. Oh well, if you have a PS3 then I'd still say you should give the Uncharted series a chance (Especially Uncharted 2, which is much better than this one in my opinion.) Just know that Uncharted 3 probably won't live up to the reputation most review sites are giving it. And that you have to buy a danging Online Pass to play the Online Multiplayer if you don't buy the game new.
The Gaming Monolith is a blog with reviews on it. Check it out if you're into that kind of thing.