Sunday 6 November 2011

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - Review

There's a moment in this games predecessor where you walk through a remote mountain village.  It's a quiet, almost serene level that gives you a break from the mayhem.  The closest you get to a pause in Uncharted 3 is a walk through a desert.  Drake stumbling and desperate for water as sand slowly coats him and hope seems lost.  Apart from that Uncharted 3 is the most relentless action movie you've never seen and is, for the most part, quite wonderful in scale and application.

Naughty Dog are one of the few game developers to make games for the PS3 that outstrip anything on the 360.  Graphically it is, quite simply, breathtaking.  From the environments to the motion captured character animations, it just shines.  If Drake's running a little to close to a wall or a pillar he'll bump against it, stumble and steady himself.  As smooth as silk.  Sand and water have never looked or behaved this realistically in a game and although the sand has had all the pre-release hype it's the water effects that will have your jaw scraping the floor.

Story wise it's incredibly close to Uncharted 2, all be it with a slightly extended cast and an undercurrent of wondering throughout whether Drake's obsessions are going to cost him everything.  Despite the apparent repetition, it's still enthralling and there are some nice touches, including some backstory to Drake and Sully's relationship.  It's their friendship which dominates the story from start to finish as we are taken across the globe in search of a lost city in the sand.

If you've played the first two titles the gameplay is not going to come as a shock.  Climb, shoot and brawl (hand to hand combat has been brilliantly over hauled here).  Gunplay is solid and satisfying although the enemy AI still feels weak occasionally.  What defines the Uncharted games is how the elements combine to make the set pieces such an incredible experience.  And they are arguably the best thing this generation of consoles have offered us.  Arguably they're the best thing any generation of consoles have offered us.  Action sequence follows action sequence with you at the heart of it controlling Drake as he runs from fire, water and ridiculous amounts of spiders, usually with gun in hand taking out waves of enemies.  You feel Drake's panic, the voice acting and camera all adding to the games cinematic qualities.

There are two moment in Uncharted 3 that will be hard for anyone, let alone Naughty Dog, to top.  The wander through the dessert wouldn't be out of place in a huge summer blockbuster.  The plane sequence directly before that takes gaming to another level.

Uncharted 3 isn't flawless, there are occasional control issues with too many actions given over to the face buttons, but frankly it feels like nitpicking to even bring it up.  For the first time in a very long time we have  a game with genuine replay value.  Not because there's more to see or alternate paths to take but because every second of it is a joy.

Best game ever?  Maybe.  Game of the year?  No question.

If you have a PS3, you need this game.
(Multiplayer review soon.)

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