Review: Uncharted 3 – Drake’s Deception (PS3)
Naughty Dog have always been pioneers on the PlayStation platform. Whether it was the platforming action of Crash Bandicoot on the original PlayStation, the epic Jak and Daxter series (to be re-released in HD and 3D early next year) on PlayStation 2, the Santa Monica-based studio has been one of the names synonymous not only with Sony’s much-loved (or despised) PlayStation, but with some of the best first-party video games ever made (Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy remains one of my top 5 games of all time, primarily because it’s still a joy to play, ten years after release).
This trend continued on PlayStation 3, beginning in 2007 with the first Uncharted game, Drake’s Fortune, and it remains one of the best games available on PS3 – strange El Doradoan monsters aside, of course. Uncharted 2 built on the success of the first game in a huge way, as the first game to take advantage of all of the PS3′s technologies, and thus its power – but it wasn’t just pretty; it was, in fact, a breathtakingly perfect game, filled with cinematic set-pieces and a rich, involving story. Sure, it was linear, but when you’re essentially playing Indiana Jones mixed with National Treasure, you don’t care.
So now, Naughty Dog are back, with what promises to be the best Uncharted game yet, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. But the big question is this: will it live up to PS3 gamers’ lofty expectations, or will it exceed them and become a standalone reason to buy a PS3? Read on to find out.
OK, let’s get all the good stuff out of the way. Firstly, as ever, the game is visually stunning. Even in plain old 720p HD, Drake and co look more perfect than ever – but it’s not just character models or how good a particular set piece looks; as ever, Naughty Dog have taken a particular natural object and recreated it perfectly. In Drake’s Fortune, we saw water actually make playable characters look wet for the first time; in Among Thieves, snow was recreated with finesse; and this time around, it’s the sand of the Rub-Al Khali desert to look photorealistic and react like… well, sand does to wind and tiny things like the footsteps of characters.
Naughty Dog have created perhaps the best story you’ll see in a game released this year, taking players on a world tour to a somewhat stereotypical London (complete with random red phone box in an alleyway), Columbia, Syria, France and Yemen, as Drake, Sully, Chloe, Elena and Cutter search for Ubar, a lost city of gold. Every location is breathtakingly recreated, making the story even more engaging. Naughty Dog have basically nailed it.
My only real issue lies in the game’s aiming issues. There was something of a fuss kicked up about the game’s weapon aiming – which I didn’t particularly have a problem with – and it was promptly patched, though to me it seems like it’s had something of an adverse effect on the way the game plays. Post-1.1 patch, shooting feels really awkward, and it actually feels worse to control than any of the other games.
One particular issue aside, there’s no other way to say this: if you own a PS3, you need this game. If you don’t have a PS3, you need to buy one purely to play this game. Skyrim aside, this is perhaps the best game you’ll play this year, and it’s Naughty Dog’s best game ever… or, at least, it will be, until The Last of Us comes out.