We really don't want to give away much of the story for this game but we can tell you that Uncharted 3 takes inspiration from the archaeological days of T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, with Nathan Drake following Lawrence's missing months of travel in the search for the legendary lost city, the Iram of the Pillars. Along the way Nathan is joined by his close friend Victor "Sully" Sullivan - and there's a great flashback sequence about how they met - Elena Fisher, and Chloe Frazer, as well as newcomer Charlie Cutter.
Fans of the franchise will be able to slip into the game straight away with the only major change being to the melee combat. Weapons will be familiar, throwing grenade allows you to aim with that familiar arc while it's possible to duck behind cover and blindfire at enemies. If you haven't played the game before the game introduces the games mechanics over a period of time to ease you in. Having said that there will be moments in this game, primarily character moments, which will be enhanced if you've played through the two previous titles.
Perhaps surprisingly there were a couple of aspects of the single player campaign that disappointed, if ever so slightly. Primarily it was to do with the chase sequences - particularly the one with the young Nathan Drake. As you run through the level being chased it's far too common to turn a blind corner and within a fraction of a second need to determine where to go next. Often this isn't so clear and you'll be caught, which results in a restart from the last (admittedly frequent) checkpoint. The other niggle we had relates to the amount of bullets required to take down some of the tougher enemies. Perhaps it's how the game was designed but for some of the more heavily armored soldiers melee combat is often the best option.
Game modes include your standard Team Deathmatch, Plunder which plays like a Capture the Flag styled game, Team Objective which sees you needing to complete objectives before your enemies, the very cool Three Team Deathmatch which sees three competing teams, Free For All, Hardcore which disables all boosters, medal kickbacks and mods, and then Co-op Arena which sees you fighting waves of soldiers, Co-op Hunter Arena which throws in enemy humans and Co-op Adventure which are story-based Co-Op missions for up to 3-players. During the matches Power Plays will activate when one team takes a sizable lead which gives the losing team an advantage (such as being able to see the location of the leading team members) and the opportunity to catch up. It's well implemented and keeps the games fairly close.
The developers have also included a Custom Game where you can set the Game Type, select from the eleven maps and then set parameters such as Score and Time Limits, Friendly Fire on or off, global chat, power plays, treasure chests and weapon pickups.
It must be said that the multiplayer component in Uncharted 3, be it the competitive or Co-op, are well developed, super slick and very entertaining indeed. It can take a little while for the game to match make and drop you into a game, but once you're there it's a slick experience. It would have been nice for Naughty Dog to reduce the loading and waiting between levels, but it's never terrible.
Naughty Dog have been able to push the PS3 further than any other company when it comes to visuals and yet again the development team have set new benchmarks - although the jump from the second game to this one isn't as large as from the first to the second titles as the developers are hitting the PS3's limits. Running at a constant 30fps with no discernible screen-tear, the way in which the game produces and handles the fire, water, smoke and sand is a sight to behold. There is a level of realistic simulation which has rarely, if ever, been seen in a video game. This simulation is impressive in itself but when you throw in several enemies, gunfire, and explosions it really is a technical accomplishment.
There is another new addition to this franchise with the visuals and that's support for 3DTV's. Just how Naughty Dog managed to render two distinct fields while retaining the bulk of the visuals - there are minor tweaks here and there - is a remarkable achievement and those with 3DTV's will certainly want to check out this added dimension!
I know you all have one question though - why is it that last time we gave the visuals 100% and yet this seemingly superior experience scores a "non-perfect" score? Well god forbid it 98% isn't close enough but there is a reason, and this was detailed in the gameplay above too, there are some chase sections in this game - when you're a 14 year old Nathan Drake, or being chased by the insects - where the camera occasionally hinders your progress and sees you dying needlessly. It's an extremely minor niggle that in any other game we likely wouldn't point out, but when you're so close to perfection it makes a difference!
Finally we can't go past the superb musical score which ties into the previous games but brings in several new tracks which complement the locations and action on screen. This music has been composed by Greg Edmonson who composed the music for the previous Uncharted games, Iranian American Azam Ali and frequent game music composer Clint Bajakian. Needless to say the music is absolutely stunning and equal to that of any Academy Award winning musical score.
There's just so much to love about the Uncharted franchise and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is no let down at all. In fact, this game will be remembered for years to come - and the entire franchise noted as one of the all-time greats. I have no idea what Naughty Dog plan to do with this franchise next, but just as I'm still regularly playing Uncharted 2 I'm sure I will still be playing, and enjoying Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception in a couple of years’ time. If you don't have a PS3, this entire franchise is exactly the reason why you need to buy one. Sensational.
Review By: Dave Warner