Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

This was one of my most anticipated games of 2011 and I finally got my hands on playing it after Christmas. What was the verdict to the third part of the Nathan Drake saga? Does it hold up to the brilliance of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves?

With heavy heart I say no, no it doesn't. But in all honesty it is almost impossible to replicate perfection. Uncharted 3 isn't a horrible game it just isn't the finale that we should have received. This game should have been the second game with Among Thieves as the finale. Let me elaborate because this game both enraptured me and enraged me simultaneously.

The good of it is the that Uncharted has never looked better in the series. Naughty Dog really pulled out the stops on the ambiance of each environment with some spectacular vistas to behold. Some of my personal favorites were the ruined crusader castle in Yemen and the sheer beauty of the desert you get stranded in in the game's final acts.


The voice acting is superb as always. Hearing the banter between Nate and Sully never sounded better and more natural. The banter between the characters is still amusing but there were a few times it felt they were really trying to make Drake a smart-ass more than needed. At least as the jokes fall flat with the player they also fall flat with the other characters too and they have no problem telling him that.

They musical score is quite engrossing and retains its big budget action movie soundtrack appeal. The familiar Uncharted theme is still present as well and is still a favorite of mine. Sound effects are equally good with melee combat noises sounding very organic, gunfire is loud and crisp and explosions are deep and full of bass.

So far its looking good but some critical areas just fall flat or become outright frustrating. The story and writing is some of the weakest of the series with more plot holes than both games combined. I swear the only reason Salim is introduced in the last chapters is just because Naughy Dog couldn't figure out how to get Drake to stop being lost in the desert and get him a horse to ride. Also the general disappearance of Chloe and Charlie (who was with you from the beginning of the game) and how they are not even mentioned at the end is just bad writing.

This is Charlie Cutter. He was awesome. He then disappeared without no further mention. He also is a clone of Jason Statham.

Also the sudden reveal that Drake and Elena got married after Among Thieves but it fell apart is barely discussed. You get glimpses but nothing further given. Hell you get more background info from the strategy guide than from the game itself. What the hell?

One of my biggest complaints was the total over animating of Drake. It seems like Naughty Dog wanted to go with realism with how he moved and instead created a character with a Monk-esque need to touch every flipping thing he walks past. He also is constantly looking around like hyper paranoid person. In addition when he walks/runs/climbs/jumps now he looks like he is constantly drunk. Its too much animation and the end result is sloppy. And because of the constant bumbling around the controls suffer due to more frames of animation and Drake not stopping mid-stumble to do what the hell you are inputting into the controller.

This isn't the end of the problems though. While melee combat was improved vastly over the second game they totally went backwards and made the shooting almost unplayable with near unresponsive targeting and some desire to have far too much recoil for each fire arm. I don't see this much inaccurate shooting in the worst FPS or more realistic one. Uncharted 2's ranged combat was buttery smooth and fun, this had me screaming at the tv in full on rage quit mode during the games numerous and unnecessarily long gun battles.

I also don't appreciate having enemies with unlimited ammo for guns and grenades with expert level marksmanship while you bumble around like a monkey fucking a doorknob in the dark. I didn't even die this much in Battlefield 3 and that is a harder game where precision is a must. Uncharted is supposed to be like a big budget fun summer movie. This felt cheap and I didn't think I was screwing up as much as this aspect of the game was just poorly designed.

Finally some of the level design, while inspired, was poorly laid out. There was more times than I care to admit that I couldn't figure out where to go in the level next due to its cluttered environments. Don't get me wrong they were gorgeous but when you can't figure out how to get the hell out of an area that doesn't have a puzzle to solve just sucks and makes you feel like a moron.

This is a rough review for me to put to words as I am a huge fan of this series of games. If I was comparing it to other third person action/adventure games out on the home consoles it stands heads and shoulders above those. I can't though. I have to compare it to the other two games in the series and when doing this I can say its a technical marvel but is the worst game of the series. With Uncharted: Drakes Fortune and the sublime Uncharted 2: Among Thieves I played through those games multiple times to find all the secrets, to re-experience the world, the story, the characters. With Drake's Deception I can say with all honestly I will not go back to it after finishing it.

So Uncharted fans be wary its not as good as Among Thieves by any means. Rent or borrow it if you want to finish the series. Or better yet just imagine how Among Thieves ended and leave it at that.  I'm glad I got this as a gift and didn't buy it myself because I may have set fire to the disc. Gift eased that rage slighly.

File this one under: Games That Cause Pain.