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Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

PlayStation 3
Genre: Action
Developer: Naughty Dog Official Site: http://www.naughtydog.com
Publisher: Sony
Release Date:
4th November 2011
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Genre: Action
Developer: Naughty Dog
Official Site: http://www.naughtydog...
Publisher: Sony
Release Date:
4th November 2011
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Uncharted 3 Review
Review By @ 09:48am 26/10/11
PS3
If you were being cynical you could say that Uncharted 3 is a misnomer. In fact a lot is charted; you navigate through levels by climbing up walls, jumping from ledges and swinging from chandeliers. You also solve puzzles and fight bad guys as you and a familiar cast of characters follow the clues from one exotic location to another. In other words it's just like Uncharted 2. It's just as well then that along with that familiar formula returns the amazing visuals, stunning backdrops, perfectly executed story and perhaps the best voice-acting in a video game. It would be delusional to say that the gameplay feels refined and that Naughty Dog have tweaked and smoothed out areas of weakness from Uncharted 2. The truth is it feels much the same as its predecessor, but you have to ask yourself "is that a problem?" The answer, emphatically, is no.

Rarely will you feel so loathe to rush through a game as when you play Uncharted 3. Whether it's London, a secluded french chateau, or an ancient medieval castle the visuals are both outstanding technically and flat out breathtaking. But you can do a lot more than stand on rooftops and admire the intricately crafted scenery and the impeccable recreation of your immediate surrounds. Naughty Dog have also used their visual prowess to bring many of the puzzles to life. From the small details of symbols carved into stone to sweeping statements of grandeur that adds to the sense that, as Nathan Drake, you really are chasing something spectacular.



Such impressive visual execution combines perfectly with fantastic voice acting and character animation. You may have seen the TV ad where the gamer's girlfriend keeps thinking he's watching a movie, but it really is that polished. While in most games characters stand like statues when silent or perform repetitive movements, in Uncharted 3 characters move with distinct realism and intent that matches either their role or their dialogue. The soundtrack adds another layer to the games appeal, perfectly matched to the moment and never overstated, it is another feather in the cap of the games technical achievement.

With the visual impact of the game so forceful it's a shame that there are one or two things to nitpick in the gameplay. Most of the gameplay involves climbing, running and jumping and in that respect it's solid, but if you're a fan of the uncharted series there has to come a time when you get a bit tired of the the scripted near-falls and slips and begin to see them as intrusive when they come a little too often. Having said that, several chapters come and go before Drake's Deception breaks out of its mold. A number of chapters follow the formula of explore, solve, get screwed by the bad guys and escape, a formula that is a bit contrived and irksome. It's not until this mold is broken that you get to really experience what a great game Drake's Deception is with its great balance of gameplay styles and puzzles that are creatively designed to mix it up enough to stop it from being repetitive, boring and frustrating.

Naughty Dog did miss out on improving in the weakest area of the Uncharted series, the shooting mechanics. Of course it's not meant to play like Gears of War but it still feels artificial and a little hollow. What is a minor shortcoming however, is compounded by unrealistic reactions of the oft-impervious NPCs. Too many times headshots do nothing while a clean shot to the back at close range is more likely to result in the intended victim turning around as if you hit him with a pellet gun. Armoured enemies are particularly egregious as multiple headshots might knock their beanie off, but they keep on coming. For Uncharted it's best to accept this arcade-style escapade early and apply bullets quite liberally when required ,as ammo and various weapons are plentiful.

There are other times of course when gunplay is not required and you resort to good ol' fisticuffs. It's a rather simple mechanics as you can attack, counter and throw your opponent and while it's not perfect it's very solid. The counter system can degenerate into frantic button pressing but the combat system cleverly integrates the environment as countering near an empty bottle will have it smashed over their head or Drake might face-plant them into a nearby wall. But given the volume of enemies you fight hand to hand is usually not an option, unless it is scripted into the game.



It's not fair to say that Uncharted 3 is a mixed bag of good and bad, it's a bag of amazingly good sprinkled with some aspects that could be improved. But playing through Drake's Deception there are times when you wonder if Naughty Dog are taking the mickey out of you. Partly it's the disbelief that the bad guys manage to follow you to hidden location after hidden location regardless of how you traversed the secret passages. Partly it's that they always turn up in perfectly tailored suits and polished shoes. Of course, scripted falls also make an appearance in the disbelief category as falling debris consistently fails to alert, well anyone, despite the fact that you're trying to be stealthy. But the icing on the cake has to be your dramatic escape from a burning building as you're confronted by wave after wave of henchman lying in wait. Waiting in a burning building; that's collapsing; and on fire. Really? It's a strange outcome for a game so carefully crafted that such inconsistencies appear at all.

Drake's Deception is driven -- like previous Uncharted games -- by the compelling and flawlessly executed story which is matched perfectly by the stunning visuals. Without doubt it's at the pinnacle of storytelling in video games. The puzzle solving is also a boon, intricate in detail with enough leeway to let you do all the thinking. It's a little disappointing then, that the shooting mechanics have the same shortcomings as Uncharted 2 and that it takes too long to get going. It's as though an opportunity has been missed to combine a game that entertains so well with one that plays flawlessly. Yet be that as it may the end result for Uncharted 3 is plenty good enough.
What we liked
  • The amazing visuals
  • The expertly crafted story
  • Particularly the second half
  • The acting, both voice and rendered
What we didn't like
  • Headshots, or lack thereof
  • Confusing inconsistencies
  • Takes too long to get rolling
More
We gave it:
9.3
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
jackflash
Posted 12:13pm 26/10/11
Wow, thought it would achieve a better score tbh, what did Uncharted 2 score?
copuis
Posted 12:16pm 26/10/11
a better score than 9.3, gtfo, i think it is a fair score, i would have thought maybe lower seeing there is not head shots, and it seems to take awhile getting into the game
jackflash
Posted 12:34pm 26/10/11
I thought the second one scored better than this. Fact is they gave Arkham City a 9.7, i was pretty confident Uncharted would a have a more engaging storyline..
Rawprawn
Posted 02:57pm 26/10/11
No head shots? That's odd :o
Bought a PS3 for Dark Souls, but I'm glad to see that there are still other reasons to have one!
Raazel
Posted 03:48pm 26/10/11
Anything better than 8 is good... So 9.3 is pretty damn excellent!
Outlaw
Posted 04:10pm 26/10/11
There is still head shots...

"Too many times headshots do nothing while a clean shot to the back at close range is more likely to result in the intended victim turning around as if you hit him with a pellet gun. Armoured enemies are particularly egregious as multiple headshots might knock their beanie off, but they keep on coming."

Have you played uncharted before? Its always been like that. Mini bosses have helmets which need to be shot off before you can actually head shot them and if you're coming up from behind you'd be better off with a silent melee kill rather than shooting in the back of the head and/or back.

Its getting a 10 on other review sites.
butters
Posted 04:30pm 26/10/11
Yes I have played Uncharted before. And I know some bosses have helmets, that's obvious. I'm talking about plain goons in body armour and beanies that take multiple head shots. It may have always been like that but I think it's ridiculous design.

I've seen the other scores, it takes too long to get into the awesome sections to be a 10.
Logan
Posted 04:44pm 26/10/11
i think that 9.3 is a fair rating, seeing as though there is no head shots :((
Dan
Posted 04:48pm 26/10/11
Its getting a 10 on other review sites.
And an 8 on others too.
ravn0s
Posted 05:07pm 26/10/11
i think that 9.3 is a fair rating, seeing as though there is no head shots :((


since when are headshots mandatory for a good game?
eski
Posted 05:21pm 26/10/11
Great review, but lose the ridiculous numbers.

I'm not convinced there is a quantifiable difference between 9.1, 9.3 and 9.7
butters
Posted 06:17pm 26/10/11
I think you might have a point to some degree eski. It's above 9 and it is an awesome game, a must experience in the huge slate of games coming out.

And to reinforce the point that Outlaw made, there are still head shots, I was simply complaining that they're not an instant kill, even on unarmoured enemies. I like my head shots clean, like in Deus Ex.
ravn0s
Posted 06:38pm 26/10/11
I'm not convinced there is a quantifiable difference between 9.1, 9.3 and 9.7


i agree. in fact i believe there shouldn't be any scores at the end of reviews. the review should speak for itself.

last edited by ravn0s at 18:38:01 26/Oct/11
eski
Posted 07:19pm 26/10/11
No disrespect intended to butters or AG, I'm just not big into review scores.

I can see the reasons behind it, but it seems more to do with marketing than having a metric to measure games. People are more likely to click on a review if they know it has a number, not to mention getting exposure on sites like metacritic.

There's a great piece by Patrick Klepek on Giant Bomb dealing with pretty much this exact issue.
Linker
Posted 08:13pm 26/10/11
The scoring system is indeed flawed, and there has been a lot of forum discussion going on about Eurogamer's *controversial* score of an 8 for U3.

The fact is, that sometimes bonuses in the industry are tied to a Metacritic rating, which is unfortunate.

David Jaffe had a great writeup on his thoughts of the Eurogamer score.


Eurogamer's 'controversial' review* of Uncharted 3 reminds me of why I love that site's reviews.

I also loved their fair and insightful criticism of Calling All Cars back in the day; how they sussed out the specific reasons for the lack of depth in our game. God, how I wish I had been able to articulate and even realize that flaw during CAC's development! We coulda made some simple changes that would have resulted in a much better title!**

As for U3, I've yet to play the campaign mode, but I played the beta over the summer and really liked it; I enjoyed it more than 99% of human based shooters on the market. And I'm sure I'll love the U3 campaign when I pick it up next week (just as I've loved the earlier Uncharted games).

BUT…

…Eurogamer's conclusion/criticism about games that are super heavy on the 'experience' at the expense of the 'play' (like they claim Uncharted 3 is and like- by my own admission- GOD OF WAR 1 is***) is wonderfully thought out and presented and the only reason it's been labeled 'controversial' has nothing to do with the review itself and everything to do with the sad state of game consumers who have been so effectively conditioned by a number of the gaming press/gaming PR machines that these gamers leap to a title's defense-not that this gem of a game needs defending- without even being open to the reviewer's criticism (be it valid or not). That's tragic. What's even more tragic is I would argue the games medium itself has been damaged by this practice. Irrevocably? No. But it has taken its toll for sure.

So there's that.

BUT…

Besides having some great insight, what's great about the Eurogamer review is that it manages to be both positive and critical at the same time (Gars** Wonder of Wonders! How'd they do that?!?!)

It doesn't bash U3 at all (for to do so would just be trolling for hits since it's clear there ain't a thing in U3 that is bash worthy) and it clearly sings the game's many wonderful praises and achievements. But it does call out what some people consider a fundamental flaw in many of today's console titles where making 'cinematic experiences'**** seems to have become a more important goal than making games. And it's nice to see that level of criticism and insight in games journalism, especially with a game as hyped and anticipated (and as amazingly great) as Uncharted 3. How refreshing that a great, hyped, and soon-to-be much loved game can be praised while at the same time intelligently and non mean-spiritedly criticized for what a reviewer thinks (agree or not) are genuine issues. Wow, that's just like big boy writing! And I love it! :)

David

*Amazing this review is the one being called 'controversial'. To me, the 10/10 review that either mentions the flaws of the game and still gives a perfect score OR the review that doesn't mention the flaws at all (an even worse crime, assuming the reviewer thought there WERE flaws) is the true controversial review. Gamers that don't see this as a problem need to wake up to the PR machine cause the Matrix has you.

** A lot of people think I bash Calling All Cars at every turn. I don't. I am actually and super proud of the team that made the game, I'm proud of my contributions, and I love playing Calling All Cars in split screen to this day. I just hate that it didn't succeed more and I place that blame squarely on my shoulders (and I've written about that before). I love the game we made but I think it needed more stickiness and more depth (not always the same thing although many will tell you it is), not to mention a more commercial theme. And I kick myself that I didn't push (myself or others) to address these issues.

***A lot of people ask me if I'd ever make another GOD OF WAR (assuming that opportunity was offered) and I always say the same thing: if it were GOD OF WAR meets something like ZELDA (formula wise), then yes (aka Darksiders, right?)…But if it were GOD OF WAR using the current formula, I would not. For me- and this is just me PERSONALLY (I get and respect not everyone shares this same thinking)- directing GOD OF WAR made me realize that as a game designer (and certainly as game director) I want our games to serve the gods of GAMEPLAY first and foremost. My and then team's desire to tell a story/make a movie may or may not get to be fulfilled (depending on the game) but if we do tell a story, it will never come at the expense of the gameplay (the thing that makes our medium matter and special). Games can have story (and many should, such as God of War) and most games- even pure play games- should have strong world and IP. But working on God of War made it clear that- for me- if we have to cut a set piece or bit of spectacle because of our desire to put play first, then so be it. Ideally, the BEST games are those that do both.

But what is really interesting/telling, is that as much hype and fan love as the cinematic experiences get, it's the game-y games that sell and sell and sell. Look at Guitar Hero, MW3, Angry Birds, Farmville, Mario, Madden, Wii sports, and on and on and on. Hell, even GTA sells to MOST folks because they just like to f*** around in the world (the game part). I think hardcore FANS of games love seeing our medium push (successfully or not- YMMV) into the medium of film and utilize techniques from that medium (sometimes surpassing film, as it seems U3 does via the cargo plane sequence alone- Michael Bay simply DREAMS of such a cool scenario!) And I think these fans dig this stuff because it shows off the tech we love (and paid a lot of cash for), it gives us the stunning art our eyeballs crave and the energy/adrenaline our guts respond to, and perhaps (not for all but certainly for some) because it presents what is- to me- a false hope/desire (and a very real display of desperation) that AT LAST our geeky habit is now COOL and RELEVANT and MAINSTREAM! End of the day tho, look at the top of the charts: the GAME STUFF sells buckets when it's themed right and executed well. The EXPERIENCE STUFF sells well too but not near as much as the GAMEY stuff and the EXPERIENCE STUFF costs a hell of a lot more to make in most cases.

****I use the word 'experience' in 'cinematic experience' as shorthand cause ya'll know what I mean. Ironic tho since the whole point the Eurogamer review makes is that the player's actual INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE is many times relegated to second class status in order to present the player with a more controlled VIEWING experience.


http://davidjaffe.biz/
qmass
Posted 08:45pm 26/10/11
It's a real shame that game sites have been pressured into such absurd scoring systems, presumably under the tyranny of being denied review copies for 'bad' reviews. I guess decimalisation is a way of differentiating somewhat stealthily between a good game and a great game but its a shame its not as intuitive as 1-10.

So I've been wondering, how have movie reviews managed to fight this? 7-8 on imdb or rotten tomatoes (70-80% I guess) are basically the best movies that come out each year and the truly special few get 8-9 and then it leaves room for the movies of the decade/top 100 of all time type gems to receive a meaningful score.

At the end of the day, what the hell does 9.3 vs 9.8 mean ? Can a reviewer hope to be objective with so little wiggle room? Obviously reviews are largely subjective but with a clearly defined scoring system and real values that is minimised. At this point, 'the score' seems superfluous to a pro/con system and the body of a review yet it limps on regardless.

Its getting a 10 on other review sites.

And an 8 on others too.
This is the absurdity at work. The 8 is the exception that proves the rule, its been widely criticised when it should be praised for being perhaps the best thought out critique and is given what is really a very good score under any sane scoring system. It's disingenuous to justify what amounts to caving under industry pressure, scoring between 9 and 10 (despite the reasonable content of the review) with what is in fact one of the few shining beacons remaining.
DM
Posted 08:48pm 26/10/11
So this guy gives it a good score, but felt it had some issues but still says it's a game worth playing. Now people flip the f*** out that he didn't tongue the developer/publisher's a****** more and give it a perfect score? Seriously who gives a f*** and climb off the poor mans ass. I sure as hell don't trust any review that gives games a perfect score *cough*ign*cough* as that raises flags that the reviewer has something to gain/lose.
qmass
Posted 09:22pm 26/10/11
anyone calling for 10/10 is retarded. Most people here are discussing the way scoring systems are skewed when in fact an 8 should be a very very good score and not considered a flawed game.
Enska
Posted 09:30pm 26/10/11
lol every year when AG reviews big releases this comes up.
Dazhel
Posted 09:50pm 26/10/11
I'm not convinced there is a quantifiable difference between 9.1, 9.3 and 9.7


On the contrary, the quantifiable differences are 0.2 and 0.4 respectively. I understand that you probably meant qualitative difference though. :)

I agree, I don't know why everyone gets their panties in a bunch over whether a game got this score or that score.
An individual score is pretty meaningless, that's the sole reason why metacritic exists.
I'd be pretty annoyed if part of my compensation package was tied to something like a metacritic score if what Linker said is true as well - the direct control someone could exert on that metric is extremely limited.
Khel
Posted 09:54pm 26/10/11
Its not just AG, it comes up with all reviews, from all over the place. I remember when MK9 came out and some sites gave it like 8 out of 10 and forum fanboys fired way the f*** up. Scores just seem to start more fights and cause more problems than they solve imo.
Hogfather
Posted 09:26am 27/10/11
I'd prefer to see a quality rating rather than a final score out of ten.

Rubbish Typically movie tie-ins etc.
Common Rubbish++ At least they had a good go. If your kids like the tie-in license then you will at least not want to hang yourself after playing it with them.
Decent Quality Indie games primarily, fun budget games, or tripe from major developers.
Good Decent but flawed somehow technically, could be promising with some patches. If you are a fanboy of the studio / series / genre you probably won't care and will enjoy the game.
Epic Pretty f*****g good all round. If you have the cash handy, buy this game, will appeal to new players unfamiliar with the studio / series / genre.
Gold Its gold, baby! Mortgage your house, sell the kids. If you do not get this title you will miss out, and you will regret it when people are talking about it as a classic in 5-10 years.
qmass
Posted 10:36pm 26/10/11
That is basically the point hogfather, a properly executed 5 star system is essentially what you are talking about but for some reason or another, game reviewers/readers have decided that anything below 7 is terrible and below 9 is mediocre which is madness but it is how it is.
Dan
Posted 10:48pm 26/10/11
So I've been wondering, how have movie reviews managed to fight this? 7-8 on imdb or rotten tomatoes (70-80% I guess) are basically the best movies that come out each year and the truly special few get 8-9 and then it leaves room for the movies of the decade/top 100 of all time type gems to receive a meaningful score.
I've thought a fair bit about this in the past and often ponder the differences between my own reviewing experience with that of a film-critic.

The first thing I arrive at is that, when you step back from the face-value similarities, they really are worlds apart. A film reviewer sits down for 2, 3 hours tops the knock out 600 words. I sat down with Battlefield 3 for three whole f*****g days, was completely absorbed in it and the write-up was over 3000 words.

My gestating hypothesis on why there's plenty of 1 and .5 star movie reviews and comparatively sod all 10 and 20% game reviews is firstly that almost every big budget game has at least some redeeming qualities -- you have hours worth of experience to find good nuggets of fun, compared to a 90 minute movie in which a weak start can sour the whole viewing -- and secondly, film review publications in general can review a much greater quantity of movies that an equivalent game site.

With AG and other sites our size (and really everyone until you get up to the IGN and Gamespot level), we don't review a great deal of games that have a good chance of sucking, because we're too busy trying to cover all the games that show actual promise (and that we're keen on playing ourselves) first.

A single film critic could feasibly review like 14 movies a week and do a decent job of it. If a single game reviewer tried to cover more than about 3 bigger games in a week-- maybe 4 tops -- I'd seriously question their ability to form a valid opinion on any one of them.

So I'm not saying that's 100% why things are how they are, but just something to think about next time someone starts waxing on that game reviews contain too much praise. imo film and games offer very different experiences and you can't just compare like for like.
Stalfax
Posted 11:12pm 26/10/11
I think a number system such as what AG currently uses is quite pointless when they aren't using a point criteria system. An 8.1 or a 9.6 could have the exact same "positives' and 'negatives' and purely reflect the reviewers bias. IGN reviews are complete balls, but at least the way they break it down into Graphics, Sound, Replayability etc, lets readers judge the game on the dimensions they care most about.

I think a rating system or 5 point star system would be more informative, like what Hogfather suggested. The way it is now, there's so much clustering of AAA titles around the 9-10 mark, and the number system implies that "oh uncharted 3 is not as good as batman coz its 0.4 lower", which is just ridiculous.
eski
Posted 12:42am 27/10/11
Someone needs to plot this s*** on a bell curve. They also need to work out a system that somehow cant be converted to metacritic, like combining two words to form the result HOT SAUCE or 12 OUT OF BANANA! would be ideal. Either that or make the score X/7..... or pi.

On the contrary, the quantifiable differences are 0.2 and 0.4 respectively. I understand that you probably meant qualitative difference though. :).


Thanks Professor :P
greazy
Posted 01:25am 27/10/11
F*** the haters. Love the score and the little What we liked/What we didn't like sections. To be honest, I hardly read any reviews unless I'm extremely interested in the game. Most times I just skip to the end and read the bottom + score.

The decimal number usage is a bit silly though. 9.5 is fine but 9.3/9.8? That's strange.

If you take this score, divide by 2 and round down you get 4.5. That's a damn good score out of 5. I don't think I've seen the SBS guy and girl give anything that was this good when reviewing a film!
Hogfather
Posted 09:29am 27/10/11
F*** the haters. Love the score and the little What we liked/What we didn't like sections.

I like all of that but find that decimal final score is crazy. Maybe its designed to generated arguments on the forums?

All we really need to know is if the reviewer thinks its GOTY material, a very good game, s*** you will like if you're a series fanboy, or f*****g garbage to avoid. That's what you are really after from a review, isn't it?
gamer
Posted 09:48am 27/10/11
Most times I just skip to the end and read the bottom + score.
Khel
Posted 09:49am 27/10/11
While I'm not a big fan of scores, I have no problem with a score out of 10 using decimals like 9.3 or 9.8 or whatever. Cos you're essentially just saying 93 out of 100, and lots of other reviews score that way anyway. It gets scored that way when its on Metacritic anyway.

I like 1up's way of scoring games where they just grade them, like A+ or B or C or whatever. Even though it still is a score, it seems to be a lot less contentious and easier to swallow than assigning a hard number to a game.
butters
Posted 03:26pm 28/10/11
Hmm... Well to help out I shall score games based on the NFL player they can be compared to. And yes I am obsessed with the NFL.

Uncharted 3 is like Mike Vick. Awesome to watch but at crucial times lacks the finesse needed to be considered perfect.

Although unlike Mike Vick there is no illegal dog fighting in Uncharted.
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