“Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” is one of the few games that can actually create a cinematic experience. With gorgeous graphics, a compelling story and the gameplay to back it up, “Uncharted 3” is the whole package of a single-player experience.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

PS3
Naughty Dog


The narrative is very much an “Indiana Jones” affair. A descendant of Sir Francis Drake, the protagonist, Nathan Drake, is a born treasure hunter who wants to uncover a mysterious fortune that his ancestor omitted from the record books. While no one knows what the treasure contains, a nefarious faction thinks the reward could be enormous. From there the story becomes a race to see who can get there first.

Much like “Indiana Jones,” it’s a fantastical tale, with historical namedrops, globetrotting and some mysticism thrown in for good measure. While not especially believable, it’s a fun story and it’s helped by some of the best voice acting that’s ever been heard in video games. The dialogue between the characters is sharp, with genuinely funny banter and some serious moments that bring balance as well.

When Nathan Drake isn’t sarcastically cracking jokes, he’s being an action hero to the fullest degree. Gameplay varies in the “Uncharted” series — while primarily a cover-based shooter, there is a lot of platforming and puzzle solving as well. So in a typical scenario, Drake will climb up the ledges of a chateau to get inside, solve a puzzle to find a clue that will lead to the next location and then fight off the enemy to escape the building.

All three elements – the shooting, puzzle solving and platforming – are all helped by the incredible presentation. The animation of the characters is superb, which makes moving from cover to cover in gunfights more tense and exciting. Some of the puzzles make use of the phenomenal lighting effects in “Uncharted 3.” And while the platforming is not very difficult, the leaps look so death-defying and ridiculous, the ease doesn’t matter.

Developer Naughty Dog can present Drake so cinematically and bombastically that the character doesn’t seem like he would be controllable. One scene will put the player in control of escaping from a sinking cruise ship with water rushing behind. Another has Drake hanging onto the back of a flying cargo plane, shooting enemies while trying to climb in. It’s both ludicrous and amazing.

The multiplayer of “Uncharted 3” holds it back from perfection. For whatever reason, the aiming feels less accurate than in single player, which is consistently frustrating. There’s also a co-op mode, which feels tacked on in comparison to the polished single-player missions.

That being said, it hardly matters because the single player is paced to near pitch-perfection. There’s rarely a dull moment in the entire 10-hour campaign. The original score is outstanding, the graphics are stunning and the gameplay holds its end of the bargain as well, making for a hell of a fun ride. It might be the closest experience to playing an action movie currently available.

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