Uncharted: Drakes fortune was the first disc based PS3 game to have trophies. Uncharted 2 was the first Uncharted game to include multiplayer. Finally we now have Uncharted 3! Are the PlayStation first’s about to run dry in the sands? Or does Nathan Drake find a way to quench our thirst yet again? Find out in our review!
Uncharted 3 takes us to a brand new setting yet again with it’s main focus being in the desert. Drake is set on an adventure to discover the secret that was buried by his ancestor and discover the Iram of the Pillars or “The Atlantis of the Sands”. Yes this may sound quite familiar if you switch out the name Sir Francis Drake with Marco polo and the “Atlantis of the Sands” with Shangri-la. Though the story line may be familiar what is seemingly more important in the Uncharted series is the way the story is presented rather than the story itself. This is only enhanced by the great character development and Uncharted 3 has this in great supply! In this adventure not only does the story take you back to Drake’s origins but also introduces a few new characters and strengthens the bond between Drake and Sully. The Story in Uncharted 3 is great, it may be debatable whether its better than Uncharted 2 but in either case it is a thrilling adventure that takes Drake on a roller coaster that tops almost anything else on the market!
The campaign is not the only presence here in Uncharted 3, Co-Op and competitive multiplayer are also large aspects that give you even more bang for your buck. Co-Op has added much more in-terms of the amounts of levels for the adventure mode but what is interesting is that the Co-Op forms more of a coherent story than last time in the way that the 5 chapters you get to play are all connected in some way or form adding to the temptation to play each one all the way through. This is a great change to the cooperative but at the same time my overall reaction to it is “meh”. Uncharted 2′s version of this was fine and the place they really needed expansion was the survival types. Gold rush and Survival are returning Co-Op gametypes that bear little to no change which is disappointing considering my biggest wish from Uncharted 2 was to have the survival be more competitive and challenging.
Competitive multiplayer has seen some major changes since its predecessor! Of these changes character and weapon customization is the most adamant. There are a slew of options for customizing your character and even customizing some of the main characters like Drake or Sully for multiplayer. Players are also allowed to create a custom emblem similar to the Black Ops emblem maker however not nearly as in depth. This is fine and dandy, customizing how you play is very important for Uncharted multiplayer but I think the big prize here is the objective playlist in uncharted 3. Taking an idea that was first introduced in Killzone 2 teams fight each other to earn wins on changing gametypes without leaving the match. It is fun, addicting, and always keeps variety online. These gametypes that are switched through include things like multi-marked men and chain reaction, as well as many of the gametypes fans will recognize from Uncharted 2 multiplayer.
Multiplayer weapons in competitive are very distinct this time around. being able to change your loadout weapons with this much more customization adds a new importance to making each weapon feel unique and I can say that they are. Not just the guns themselves but the attatchments you can place on the weapons also bears a lot on your playstyle. This uniqueness is great because now there is a way for Uncharted to please almost every multiplayer enthusiast.
Another aspect that makes the multiplayer competitive interesting is the buddy system. This is a system that undertones the regular party system where you are paired with a teammate that you can pick treasures up for and spawn on. This helps get players closer to the action faster which is increasingly important as the maps in Uncharted 3 are not only more vertically based but also larger and larger.
So the buddy system is a definite plus but among the multiplayer additions one that is really interesting is the power plays. These are moments, exclusive to Team Deathmatch that will give the losing team a boost to even the score out while at the same time giving the winning team a rewarding challenge. If you have listened to our podcast during the first Uncharted 3 Beta this was a very controversial aspect and I can say with confidence that I love this new system because of the fact that it is only in Team Deathmatch and is never feels too degrading to one team and never makes the action really stop. The glory of this power play system is it’s subtlety making this system never too distracting but not without a purpose as well.
The story is obviously the biggest part of any Uncharted game but that isn’t what makes the game look good. The graphics in Uncharted 3 are mind boggling. We are seriously looking at a work of art at almost every scene of the game. From the beautiful vistas, to the character animations everything looks fluid and real. The graphics are literally at a point where I have to walk up to my TV screen to see all of the detail sometimes. The game is just absolutely stunning. I know I can’t just keep complementing the graphics but it easily topples every other game that is out there now. I would honestly put it up against Battlefield 3 on the PC and have a legitimate battle there. Now that is saying something. This is not to say that the graphics do have flaws and imperfections (what game doesn’t), for instance there are many times in the story where you see some pop in and the textures take a little bit to load up. This will never detract from the experience too much but it is definitely noticeable from time to time. The graphics do take a little bit f a slip when it comes to multiplayer however and the amazing Uncharted 3 graphics tend to look like Uncharted 2 graphics online. This may be due to the character customization and what not but it still looks pretty decent.
The graphical performance here is only rivaled by the game’s musical and vocal performance. The original score is well enough to win a game of the year award and the vocal acting actually competes with the likes of Hollywood from time to time. Nolan North pulls off another great performance as Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan shines here as well. From the witty remarks the characters make every now and then to the real cut-scene acting.
So we have the performance out of the way, the game looks good and sounds even better. What is really important when it comes to Uncharted however is to remember that this is still a gameand in order to appreciate the game it needs to have great gameplay. Yes this will at face value seem to be the exact same gameplay from uncharted 2 however this changes when you realize that many new abilities like the improvements to hand to hand fighting and throwing back grenades actually do more to the gameplay than one would think. For instance, in Uncharted 3 being able to fight multiple people with hand to hand combat at once is a major plus and at times seems to be largely promoted throughout the game from the bar brawl to fighting the pirates. Being able to grab opponents, counter the attacks and do this with multiple people at the same time with this much fluency is something that should be rewarded. It’s one of the funnest parts of the game. The ability to throw back grenades also comes in handy in both single and multiplayer. Of course what really influences the gameplay more than anything is the map design. The single-player maps are so vertically designed as well as the multiplayer that the combat is constantly changing and always makes for new and interesting moments.
The gameplay is not only combat in the story and multiplayer but also the adventure and the puzzles. The puzzles in Uncharted 3 are decisively more difficult than in any of the previous titles and actually present a challenge now. This is great considering how easy they were in Uncharted 2. The set-pieces in Uncharted 3 are also noticeably enhanced in terms of intensity and awesomeness. I can honesty say that the plane scene in Uncharted 3 is one of the most bad-ass gaming experiences I have ever had!
Overall the saying that the gameplay formula is unaltered for Uncharted 2 is a definite plus considering how well the formula works. Naughty Dog only really needed to add a few things to keep the gameplay interesting and they did just that. The alterations they made keep uncharted 3 from ever feeling stale and the changes to multiplayer really take hold. Uncharted 3 is easily one of the funnest multiplayer games I have played and while in terms of sales may not compete with the likes of Call of Duty or Battlefield, critically I must say it over achieves them in some ways!
Finally we have lasting appeal. Lasting appeal is what really counts to many gamers in deciding their purchase, is this game worth the money? Well, I can honestly say that this game is definitely worth the money! The Campaign may take you about 12 hours and going through to get the treasures and the platinum might take you an additional 20 fun hours. That is besides the re-playability after that just because the game is so fun! Then there is the multiplayer and the Co-Op which will definitely keep you coming back. The multiplayer more so due to it’s treasure system. What the online treasure system does is that at anytime during a match an enemy could drop a treasure you can pick up and collecting set’s of treasures will unlock more customization options in game and that makes multiplayer a never ending treasure hunt looking for that rare treasure!
In the end Uncharted 3 is easily one of the best games to come out this year and while it may be a simple improvement over the last game that does not keep it from being anything short of spectacular. It would be unfair to say this game lives in the shadow of it’s predecessor but also unrealistic to say that it would ever be able to top that on a generational basis. With that in mind I find it only fair to recommend everyone who bought Uncharted 2 or not to buy this game and play it because if not your are definitely missing out.