nodima's Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Game of the Year Edition) (PlayStation Network (PS3)) review

The Greatest Movie That Happens to Have a Game Inside

Uncharted 1 was a pretty game undone by its combat and flabbergastingly awful final chapters. Uncharted 2 was not a game undone, but it was certainly a game held back by increasingly cheap armored and one-hit kill enemies as the game went along.

Uncharted 3, for whatever reason, chose not to improve anything about the fundamental combat: the aiming is still tiresomely sluggish, enemies don't react at all to being shot unless it's in the head which leaves bullets feeling impactless, and most important of all there's just way too much combat regardless of those faults.

Most of the locations in this game are presented as places only Drake could find, but over and over again enemies senselessly appear. Perhaps most egregious is the well level in Yemen; Drake's party makes a huge deal about not being seen with guns, but somehow Marlowe's able to send a 30-man task force of elite soldiers outfitted with armer and power weaponry down there. Does her Illuminati group have access to teleportation devices as well? And why are there enemies hanging out in a random, abandoned city? Can't a Drake just wander aimlessly around the desert in peace?

The entire game I was pretty settled into saying, not unlike Uncharted 2, this was a 3.5 star game but a 5 star experience, or close to it. But because the fantastical enemies are left to one brief section of the game, literally everything from hair follicles to sand grain is exceptionally beautiful and the regular armored enemies have all been tuned more fairly, Uncharted 3 gets that extra half and becomes my definitive favorite of the series.

Uncharted, as a game, is still intensely frustrating at all the wrong times. But I didn't sate my urge to flip the game into Easy mode for the final chapters as I did with the previous two games, and finished the whole thing on a single Saturday rather than over a three or four day period. I found run and gunning to be the best strategy, as Uncharted's context-sensitive fist fights were consistently satisfying in a way the gunplay just wasn't; if Uncharted's system was married to Arkham City's, someone would be onto something. Anyone with a Playstation 3 should experience this game...but I wouldn't begrudge someone for taking in a Let's Play or handing someone else the controller, either.

As a movie, it's easily the best of the series. In finding out what makes Drake tick (I'm seriously confused how some people find Drake more confusing after this game) we're given some amazing monologues by Marlowe and her pirate friend, Ramses. At a certain point in the game, when the combat's at it's highest, Drake's Deception actually makes good on the same kind of protagonist-doubt that fueled Spec Ops: The Line. After an especially dull villain in Uncharted 2, it's nice to see Naughty Dog finally get the weakest link of their storytelling so, so right.

(I haven't touched the multiplayer, but from what I remember of the Beta all those years ago it's really quite good, and since the Multiplayer is the main thrust of the PSN version I should probably crack open some of that DLC and give it a go soon, eh?)

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