A decent video game that could have been an amazing movie.
This is going to sound odd, but I think Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception would have been better as a movie than as a video game. I am not trying to say it is a bad game, it is actually good, but it is more of the fact that the experience is extremely guided to the point where they might as well have taken away the controller from the user. The story tries to capture an epic feeling, like what the previous Uncharted games had, but falls short which results in a jumbo of plot points that don't get fully fleshed out. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception offers some great scenarios with amazing visuals, the lighting and shadow effects are the best I have ever seen, however, outside of these the game itself comes out to be about average when everything is considered. The game is good and you'll probably enjoy it a little bit, but if you are looking for something as great as the last Uncharted then you'll be disappointed.
I need to point out the fact that this game uses an online pass system. What that means is that if you rent this game, like I did, or buy it used then you'll be locked out of the multiplayer portions of this game. It is possible to buy an online pass to get around this. I however, did not, so I did not experience the multiplayer sections of this game.
The first thing you'll notice when you start playing this game, is that it looks amazing. The visual effects for lighting and shadows are the best I have ever seen in a video game. During a walk through a jungle level, the shadows that were cast off the plants were so amazing that I stop to look at them for a few minutes. The effects for water are also great, like the way it reflects light, reacts to movement in it, and makes your character's clothes wet. One of the new effect they added in this one is sand effect, which registers player movement and generates proper footsteps to give the impression that the sand isn't completely solid. The only technical issue I had with this game came from its audio. During a few separate scenes that involved a lot of sound, my speakers popped. By that I mean they made a popping noise, and then the audio cut out and the game became silence. Even considering this, I would say overall this game is technically amazing from its visuals to stability.
The story for Uncharted 3 does its job of moving the game forward, but fails to meet the standard of excellence set by previous title in the series. The story feels formulaic by the fact that you'll end up going to several locations to do about the same thing that you just did, or you'll go the long way around just to do a simple task like getting onto a boat. This feeling isn't helped by the weak usage of side characters and villains. While Drake himself is amazing, and even gets some background stories, the other characters aren't. The villains don't get much screen time after the opening levels, which results in them becoming an ambiguous obstacle that the player knows is there but doesn't care about. Without some kind of emotional connection to them, the player feels very little when defeating them. The quest itself is also a character in the story, since you learn about it throughout the levels in the game. However, it is a weak character since there isn't much to learn this time around because the game is more focused on what the player is currently doing, and not on the main quest they are trying to do.
Nearly every game out there has an intended path that they want the player to take, and Uncharted 3 is no exception to this. However, it seems like they take this concept to its extreme by giving an exceedingly directed experience. They want the player to do it their way, and if the player tries to step off the path, then they will quickly be punished with death. For example, if you are racing across roof tops, and decide to jump down to the street, you'll find that even though the drop would normally be possible during most of the game, it is now deadly. For the most part this problem doesn't come up, but that is due to the fact that there is usually only one corridor, ledge, or doorway out of any given location. The game doesn't want you to explore, and if you try to, it usually kills you.
As grand as the single player can be, once you have seen what it has to offer, there little reason to see it again. The scenarios are great the first time experiencing them, but lose nearly all their wonder upon repeated viewings. Unlike previous installments in the series, there are no fun cheats for the single player to spice things up for a replay. The only thing you get out of beating the game is a brief sense of enjoyment the first time, and a trophy (for your PSN account). So unless you are trying to get all the trophies, there isn't a reason to play the single player a second time.
All of this added together makes for an experience that is more about the journey than the destination. This works well for the most part since the journey, up to the ending, is fun. This is because there is no real sense of reward for beating the game, things between the characters are left vaguely open, the big mystical city is dull, and defeating forgettable villains doesn't entice any emotions. At the end what I remember most from the game isn't a character or the plot, but certain scenes and how awesome they were. It is partly because of this that I feel that this game would have been better if it was a movie, because while playing those scenes was fun, it would have been more enjoyable just to watch them.
The game Uncharted 3 is a third person shooter with cover mechanics, terrain transversal, and light stealth elements. Like most third person shooters, the camera is placed behind and slightly above the main character, so that you can see them perform their actions as well as have a greater view of the area surrounding them. This comes in handy with the other mechanics in the game.
Such as the cover system, which is the ability to use objects and hip high walls as a defensive structure by crouching behind them. You use the cover system mainly during gun battles and sneaking, since in both cases it helps keeps you alive by either blocking the enemies line of sight, or by providing cover from bullets. While in gun battles, which I know odd that I keep using that term but since you can also get into melee combat with enemies I feel the need to make the distinction, getting into cover is important since you'll die quickly out in the open. However, you aren't totally safe in cover either since enemies will flank your position rendering your cover useless. This is an area where the third person view comes in handy since you can rotate the camera, while in cover, to see everything around yourself.
A large portion of the game is centered around terrain transversal, you'll climb up ledges, slide through cracks, and jump over gaps. The controls for these segments, as well as player guidance, are done amazingly. It is easy to move your character where you want them to go, and any mistake that does happens feel like a human error, and not a result of the game being broken. Also player guidance is excellent while moving across the environment, since they make the intended paths pop out of it's surroundings without making it look awkward. So while climbing across a wall, you'll notice that some of the bricks are slightly further out, or a slightly different color, and therefore you know that you can climb over them. It is these minor details that make all the difference between a player enjoying themselves, or a player cursing at their screen since they have no idea where to go.
However, not everything is done correctly in Uncharted 3, for example one area that performs poorly is the stealth element. The way the game is design, levels and AI, does not seem intend for any kind of stealth actions despite it being portrait otherwise. If you played stealth game or want to be stealthy in this game then you'll become frustrated. Most combat takes place in open areas with numerous enemies looking directly over the battlefield. And while this is a nice set up for combat, it makes stealth action difficult and slow. You'll spend 2 minutes climbing and sneaking to get behind a target only to be spotted by another enemy on a rooftop that you couldn't see from you starting location, which will results in every enemy immediately knowing where you are. I am not implying that it should be easy to clear an area stealthy, but it is very apparent that the levels are design to encourage gun battles.
Overall Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is fun, despite its flaws. It has a lot of things going for it, but also has a few major problems that make its existence as a game questionable. While I did enjoy the game and it's story, I felt that I would have enjoyed it more if it was just a movie since player interaction didn't seem to add much to the experience. In the end Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is a good third person shooter, a bad stealth game, and has a formulaic story and experience.