Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception was a top of the line game that was released at the end of last year. It has an intriguing premise. The story is delivered in a cinematic game play style that feels very natural as you are making your way through it.
The navigation of your character through each space in the game is part of the adventure. Drake’s Par Coeur ability is agile and flexible. He can jump, hang, swing, backflip and climb. The environment provides many challenging venues to send him through. He will go up walls, and clamber up over ledges. He scales stones, shimmies past pipes and climbs cliffs. If it is up high towers or under water, Drake is game to go just about everywhere. The randy gait of his character animation gives him the appearance of someone who has had a life of thievery. In this aspect Uncharted puts many games to shame. Looking at you Cursed Crusade.
Every move is scripted however, and there is only one way to go. The background environments are gorgeous and detailed making you want to stick around and explore – which you can’t do. The chateau in France is a wondrous ruin of sunned windows opening onto thin air with ceilings crumbling upon the priceless carpets. Unfortunately, you can’t linger. Drake is always on the run, solving a puzzle only moments before enemies chase him down yet again.
The notebooks and puzzles all work together for a cohesive mystery. This is one of the many things that they do best. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, wanting to run through the game to get your questions answered. At the same time the game isn’t so easy that it is insulting, or has banal puzzles which take you out of the game.
Some of the most fun is during the shooting sequences. Drake can shoot one handed while swinging. Or on two feet on the ground. The weapons aren’t anything special but the variety of them is what you would expect. The shot guns, pistols and machine guns are standard fare. They are easy to pick up and shoot. The controls feel familiar and I never stopped to look up the controls on help screens because it was completely intuitive.
The graphics in the game definitely are a good part of the show. Areas such as ruins have a lush color palette. Greenery changes from old growth forested lands, to jungles or cottage gardens. The stones and bricks all have a unique shades of gray, granite, terra cotta, or sandstone. Plants such as foxglove are identifiable, and the delicate yellow leaves of Birches drift from slender white boughs. It’s a shame that you must always dash from one point to the next. With fire and destruction always at Drake’s heels.
I recognized the voice of video game veteran Claudia Black, and was disappointed once again that no playable female avatar was made available in the single player game at all not even for a short time. Her character could have easily been part of a driving sequence or perhaps a helicopter escape, if not as a fully playable avatar. Or even on her own branch of the story where she is finding clues for Drake. Perhaps one day Naughty Dog will make it up to female fans by creating their next game with a strong sexy female main character. Speaking to you sir.
The Chapter The Middle Pillar’s secret is right out of the Tarot Major Arcana. The High Priestess card, the corespondent of the Magician has two pillars, Boaz and Jachim,. When Charlie says “Between Mercy and Severity, The Middle Pillar.” he is quoting Sir Arthur Edward Waite the author of the Rider-Waite Tarot’s description of the High Priestess card. A quality story is all in the details, they get points for a nice Tarot reference.
Drake carries very little inventory. Yet inexplicably treasures are left lying around in corners. It isn’t clear what he can do with those such as selling or pawning them. As much detail as there is to be found in some areas of the game such as the rusty ship yard, or the underground temples. The scenery is superficial. They don’t have to finish off the rest of the world like in Assassin’s Creed. Since your character has only one direction he goes exactly where he is supposed to go. No farther.
One of the main reasons why I chose Skyrim to purchase and play when the two games came out the same week was the potential that Skyrim held. In this pic in Uncharted you see a painted backdrop that looks well lit and pretty. The difference is, in Skyrim you could walk or ride back in through every foot of that landscape. Whereas in Uncharted, you are placed on an unwavering path.
For the first time in a game that has a setting in the middle east that I have played I was pleasantly surprised to hear the NPC’s speaking a polite form of Arabic. “Salam”, peace and “Fudalu” sit and stay a while, an invitation to hospitality. Elena Fisher’s character is exchanging other formal polite phrases with other characters as she moves through the city, demonstrating that it doesn’t have to be violence and mean stereotypes for every minute of a game to make it work.
The Enemy agents look like clones. Many of them have the same face and hair. There are a few variations if hair color. The remarks that Drake makes about them are repetitive. “They must have followed us.” Repeatedly the same cat and mouse with Marlowe’s agents plays out as Drake’s party makes a discovery, and the guys with red ties show up to take it.
In Chapter 11 As Above So Below, the fast paced Par Coeur sequence before the fight with Talbot is the best level design I’ve ever seen in a first/third action game. It is just brilliant and must have taken a very long time to code, and test. This is where all the in your face action that they do so well really shows. So much happens in every frame it is literally non stop.
Drake has a notebook and diagrams but no map. That is one departure from the conventional that I miss. There may be many things that I would have done differently or asked for from this game, but for what it is, it does it all very well. I give Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception 9 golden earrings out of 10.