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27 Reviews

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Unrivalled

Page 2 of 2

ANTE CLIMAX

And you might also have seen the airport chase and landing gear getaway, in which Drake hitches a ride on a supply plane as it departs the runway. Play through this section and you'll realise why Naughty Dog were happy to show it early - because what happens immediately after the sneak peek is on another level entirely.

It's an ante-upping moment, among several in the game, that's likely to leave you shaking your head and grinning idiotically and the idea that somebody imagined this, that others designed and built it, that this is happening in a game.

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The other reason Naughty Dog was presumably happy to tease these sections of the game is because there are plenty of equally impressive moments under wraps. There's a rooftop and street chase through a bustling middle-eastern city that demonstrates just how robust the game's acrobatics have become, packed with speed and variety, and punctuated by well-judged moments of corner-turning drama.

There's a maze-like semi-aquatic level set before the headline boat toppling, in which the water becomes part of Drake's cover system as he swims and climbs through a sea of floating debris. And there's a beautiful and quiet sequence set in the desert, a ghost of sand sweeping across the smooth dunes as Drake traipses hopelessly in search of a lost friend.

To leave you in no doubt, then, Uncharted 3 does action on a scale PS3 has not seen before. It's also an absolute class leader in story and character. But it's still not perfect - and, actually, errors and misjudgements intrude upon an otherwise faultless experience like a particularly gruesome fly on a gourmet meal.

For instance, occasionally, when being machine-gunned by one enemy and fist-fighting another, you'll really want Circle to mean "roll the heck away and get me in cover" but instead too often it means "grabbing a man by the cuffs and shoving him while being peppered with bullets".

It's unlikely that this niggle would have warranted a mention if it weren't for a more serious related complaint - the difficulty spikes towards the end of the game make a sudden jump from challenging to infuriating, with several moments so hard they can only be beaten through brutal repetition, like demolishing a wall with headbutts alone.

Again, this might not be so big a problem - difficulty should ramp as the game draws to a climax, after all - if it didn't negatively impact the game's otherwise wonderfully judged story. One particularly nasty spike occurs directly after a powerful emotional beat - Drake should be furious, but rather than smash through the surrounding goons in fury, the moment is drowned in too-tough enemies and checkpoint restarts.

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None of these complaints are particularly serious, and none of them stop Uncharted 3 from being the must-have game on PS3. Especially when you take into consideration that aside from the excellent single-player campaign there's a tweaked and polished multiplayer mode.

The model for this is very much the same as Uncharted 2 with improvements: a competitive side with deathmatch, objective mode and now also clans, customisation and sparkly set-piece intros; and a co-op side with three-player story missions (five this time, moving from the London Underground to Syria) and an arena mode (which, sadly, no longer does just survival, but mixed objective modes of which survival is one type).

All of which makes this a big step on from Uncharted 2 in terms of visuals, gameplay and performance - but its biggest achievement is that, barring minor lapses, the threads are brought together into a superbly cohesive whole.

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The verdict

Confident storytelling, astonishing visuals and obscenely ambitious set pieces make Uncharted 3 the best of the series. An absolute must-have.

  • Nuanced animation takes performances up a notch
  • Quality lighting adds to astonishing Uncharted visual sheen
  • More deliciously blended set-pieces
  • More spectacular than Uncharted 2
  • Some control frustrations
  • Difficulty spikes verge on infuriating at times
9.5
Format
PlayStation 3
Developer
Naughty Dog
Publisher
Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre
Action, Adventure

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