About two years ago, I sat down to write my review for Uncharted 2 at the time. In retrospective, I am very happy with the grade that I gave it: an A+. If you were to convert that to our new scale, I would say that probably equates to a 9.5 out of 10. I had a lot of high standards going in to this game. From the first time I saw the teaser trailer, I was ready to play this game. Uncharted 3 surpasses Uncharted two in many ways, and is by far the best game for the Playstation 3 this holiday season.
Uncharted 3 picks up sometime after Uncharted 2. Nate and Sully are on the trail of a missing decoder passed down from Sir Francis Drake and Queen Elizabeth through the centuries. On the way, they run into Katherine Marlowe, a villainess who is hell-bent on stopping Drake and Sully from finding out what Sir Francis Drake was hiding.
This game’s major plot points are built up from the characters we all know and love from the first game. A player who has never played any of the previous games can still hop in and understand what is happening, but players who have the spent the time to play through the other 2 games will get much more out of it. Naughty Dog knows what those players are expecting, and they throw curveballs at the player to throw off their predictions of where the plot is going. There are still plenty of secrets and plot twists not shown in the trailers, so players don’t have to worry about being spoiled.
From riding on horseback through a canyon, to hanging out the back of a cargo plane destined to crash, and to trying to escape a sinking cruise ship, Uncharted 3 is a jaw-dropping graphical masterpiece. Nathan Drake’s globe-trotting adventure takes you around the world, with such locales as France, London, and the Middle East. These amazing environments are amazing locales to show off the power of the graphics in this game. Sony has all been pushing it’s 3D in to most of the first party games coming out this holiday season, and to those of you that own a 3D TV, you are in for a treat. The 3D is not cheesy at all, and it enhances each landscape in a way that adds to your overall game experience.
My one nitpick with the game, however, lies in the story aspects of the game. Unlike the first two games which tied up all of the loose ends at the end of each game, Uncharted 3 brings up many mysteries that fail to be explained. I was left scratching my head at the end of the game wondering what the motivations of certain characters. Without spoiling things, there are many things that happen between Uncharted 2 and 3 that are only briefly hinted at. You expect them to be explained, but there are at least two big questions that go unanswered. Hopefully future installments flesh them out. I think there’s too much ambiguity and too many questions that leave you scratching your head, which isn’t consistent with the style of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Starting off the game, one can immediately see and feel the difference between Uncharted 2 and 3. The melee combat has been tightened up and expanded upon. Melee is now no longer just mashing the square button. You always have to pay attention to counter, grapple, and use nearby environment items to defeat your enemies. Nothing is more satisfying than picking up a nearby frying pan and whacking someone over the head with it. The gunplay has also been enhanced as well. There are many jaw-dropping sequences that have you shooting enemies from very precarious and insane places. This game has set the new standards for third person gunplay and melee.
Naughty Dog has really outdone themselves with this game. The technical achievements of this game cannot be understated. They have accomplished more things with physics and lighting in this game than most developers dream of doing. From a fully procedural ocean that moves an entire cargo ship from side to side, to the lights on the inside that sway with the ocean, the physics of this game are astounding.
The voice acting and animation are astounding in this game, and it draws you in to the experience more than any other video game on the market. You really feel for the characters as people, and you begin to care about them. You wince when Drake is hurt. You get emotional when characters get shot. You get angry when Drake is angry. Thanks to the technology at Naughty Dog. All of the character’s voice overs are recorded while the motion capture happens, so each performance feels believable.
I sat down and played through this game in the span of days, sometimes even staying up until 3 in the morning to play “just one more chapter”. This game really does stand up to Hollywood movies. I had about 7 people sitting around me while I played this game, and each one of them enjoyed watching the game, and they weren’t even playing. We celebrated together at Drake’s victories, got angry at the enemies’ success, and freaked out at major plot points. The plot in this game is its strongest point, and it really makes this a unique experience to be had.
After the credits roll, you can hop over to the multiplayer mode. Many critics felt that the multiplayer aspects of Uncharted 2 were tacked on, and thankfully, Uncharted 3 side-steps most of these criticisms. The modes are varied and plentiful, gun and weapon upgrades drive the players forward, and the cooperative modes are expanded upon.
The competitive modes consist of your standard team deathmatch, capture the flag, and free for all modes, but new this time is a 2v2v2 Three Team Deathmatch mode. This mode is by far one of my favorite modes because it’s very easy to team up with a close friend and take on the world without the worries of other teammates hurting your game. If you’re also asking whether you can play these in local co-op, the answer is yes. In fact, you and a local friend can hop online for some split-screen online, and you can even have two separate PSN accounts signed in, a rarity for PS3 games.
The cooperative modes have also gotten a significant facelift. In addition to the co-op arena and co-op plunder modes from last game, there is a new co-op adventure mode. These missions put you and two other people in a set of 5 missions that have story and cinematic elements to this game. Playing this mode is a fun diversion, but this mode proves that the single player campaign of Uncharted 3 would not be the same with co-op jammed in there. My one issue is that this adventure mode can last a while, upwards of 30 minutes per mission on normal difficulty.
It’s hard to put into words what makes this game so good. Maybe it was the moment when I stood up and started yelling at the TV when things took a turn for the worse for Drake and Sully. Maybe it was staying up to 3 AM to play “just one more” multiplayer round. Maybe it was the fact that the game is so solid in this game, that you feel like you’re playing an interactive movie and not a game. Whatever it is, I haven’t had this much fun with a video game for a long time.
Overall I would say that Uncharted 3 is at least the best game for this holiday season, if not one of the best games on the Playstation 3. The game mechanics are tighter and more refined, the story is on par with hollywood blockbusters, and the physics engine provides unique gameplay experiences that you can’t get anywhere else. Even though the story may not be as good as Uncharted 2’s story, and even though the co-op can be a little long and drawn out, this game is in a class all it’s own. No gamer should miss this game.