Game of the Year Contender? – That’s an understatement.
By Hussein Zohair
Uncharted is one of the major front row franchises of this generation of gaming and one of the main exclusive titles for the PS3. Nathan Drake is a poster boy for PS3 and it knows it very well.
Uncharted 3 is every bit of an Uncharted game as the last one, but does it have what it takes to dethrone its predecessor from the spot of the best Cinematic Action Adventure Game?
The name Uncharted, when mentioned, brings to mind a lot of things; roller coaster ride, cinematic game, set-pieces to die for, amazing storyline, beautifully crafted characters, great production values and one of the best gaming experiences ever. So what does Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 3 have in store? Does it have all of the above? The simple and sweet answer is, yes! Uncharted 3 is every bit an Uncharted game and stands out as one of the best Uncharted games till date.
The story in Uncharted 3 is more personal this time. It’s more about Drake and how reckless he gets in the search for what he believes is his rightful lineage. It’s not about the treasure anymore. It’s about what’s Drake’s and what he is going to do to get it before anyone else does. Drake though has to face the dark and mysterious Katherine Marlow who also believes that Sir Francis Drake’s secrets are her right to uncover as she believes she is the rightful heir to it. So starts a journey where Drake tries to outsmart Marlow with obviously help from his friends Sully, Elena and Chloe. There is one more character in this game that you will grow to love but I won’t be spoiling anything for you readers.
What makes the story so great is not only the story itself, but the characters. You have grown used to these characters, in fact so much that you actually care about them. That is what Naughty Dog has built for us gamers to relish in. But all the more, this time around there is a strong emphasis in the story regarding the relationship of Drake and Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan. The dialogues are really well written and witty and add to the games cinematic feel. You never feel like you are just playing a game. It’s like watching a movie that YOU are controlling.
But this time around, the game is more serious. Drake’s funny one-liners are present but the sheer drop in the amount of them is staggering. But keeping in mind that this is a more serious Uncharted, it all falls into place.
You visit many locales from London to Syria to France to Yemen and so on. So visually also you are not forced to play in similar locales from the start of the game till the finish. Which brings me to my next topic – ‘the graphics’. Naughty Dog are brilliant at what they do and it shows in this game. How they keep pushing the graphical boundaries with each installment in the series is beyond my predicament. Such beautiful graphics are yet unseen on consoles and the technical details are also something to notice. The game looks marvelous, be it in the slums of London or Rooftop jumping in Yemen or Chateau raiding in France. But nothing beats the sheer greatness that is the Rub’ al Khali Desert. Making sand look good is not very hard, but making it react to movement and that too in the most realistic manner is immensely difficult. Naughty Dog does wonders here as well and makes the vast yellowish desert look so beautiful and natural. The character models look even more detailed, in game as well, and the animation is top notch. In fact, this game boasts some of the best animation ever seen in games. Few touches of excellence bring out the authenticity in the graphics and animation of the game such as Drake raising his hands to touch walls as he passes near to it or bumping into one while turning and running.
There is one complaint thought, most of the characters look really different from what they used to look like. Especially Elena! It’s like Naughty Dog thought they’d doll up Elena for her fifth appearance and she doesn’t quite look the same as what she did in UC2. Same goes for Chloe. In some parts of the game she looks just way too different than what she did in UC2. Drake though is almost the same; just his jaw seems to be higher than before. But other than that, there is nothing wrong at all with the graphics of the game. See the game for yourself and try finding your jaw off the floor.
Then comes the sound. The background score is just mesmerizing. It’s as though you are watching a movie, an epic movie, a summer blockbuster movie. And then the voice acting! Superb! All the characters are as believable as ever and every dialogue, every sentence, every rant they make or say are said so naturally. The musical score just is something that just makes you feel like you are part of something epic. Thing is, you actually ARE a part of something Epic! You are playing Uncharted 3 for God’s sake!
Moving on, the gameplay in UC3 is similar to the previous installments with similar duck and cover and shoot mechanics and traversing gameplay. Throw in a bit of puzzle solving and that’s Uncharted’esque gameplay for you. But this time around there is an emphasis on fisticuffs. And it is good.Hand to hand fighting in this game has been upped and is a lot more visceral and more fun. Drake can now fend off more enemies at once and counter enemy’s attacks while fighting with another enemy, sort of Rocksteady’s Batman style. But Drake also makes use of objects in the environment! He might use a bottle and smash it on a thugs face or might pick up a large fish and slam it onto some fool’s head.The melee system is just brilliant and believe it or not, more than 65% of the game I killed every enemy with hand to hand combat because it is just that amazing. But the other reason was that the aiming was very clunky and not at all responsive as UC2. Thankfully Naughty Dog has rectified this with an update and patched a better and similar control scheme to UC2, in.
And moving onto the best part of an Uncharted game, the set pieces. This game is a visual spectacle and it shows through the sheer amount of brilliant set pieces this game has to offer. From escaping a sinking ship that has flipped over 90 degrees, to being on a plane that is tearing itself apart, to escaping a burning chateau; this game never lets up. And there are many other scenes that will make the inner child in you jump out with excitement. You know all those cool scenes you see in movies and go like, ‘Wow! That is just so awesome! I wish I could be doing that’. In this game, you feel like you are doing all of that, obviously not you literally but then add 3D and you are almost there. The game’s 3D works like a charm and some of the scenes will just blow you away, quite literally.Video Source
And when you are done playing the ‘Epic Single Player Campaign’ you have the seemingly amazing multiplayer waiting for you. It may not be as expansive or detailed as other online multiplayer games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, but UC3 holds it’s on pretty well.
Multiplayer was introduced in the previous installment in the series and similar game modes make a return. There are basically two types of online gameplay, co-operative or competitive. Competitive is your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, etc. Co-operative are of three types in specific, a game mode which is reminiscent of Horde mode where you survive waves after waves of enemies. Then there is a story mode in which a small story like sequence is played out in similar locales as that of the Single Player Campaign and finally an objective based mode where you might have to return a treasure back to its base or just survive an onslaught of enemies.
The different thing that UC3 multiplayer does is firstly it adds verticality, so the same gameplay you experience in the Single Player Campaign can be found in the multiplayer also. But the other thing that the multiplayer features is cinematic moments. Uncharted games are all about cinematic moments and so Naughty Dog thought that their multiplayer should also have those and they do! Fighting in the midst of a taking off airplane whilst jumping from truck to truck trying to get on the plane, is just an example of what the multiplayer suite offers.
And like perks in other multiplayer games, UC3 has boosters and kickbacks instead of killstreaks. Kickbacks are earned by counting the amount of medals you earned in a game and not kills. So it’s sort of similar to Call of Duty there but still maintains a distinct feel of its own. Then there are powerplays. This is for the loosing team to get back into the game. What happens is basically in the midst of a match, a powerplay starts up giving the loosing team double the points for every kill so that they don’t feel down by constantly loosing and this gives them a fighting chance.
Naughty Dog has listened to their fans and given us the multiplayer which we yearned for and I for one and very happy with how it has turned out. Yes the character models look worse than that of UC2 multiplayer, but the amount of things happening on screen, it’s forgiven.
This game does everything right and to such an extent where nitpicking becomes so hard, that we reviewers have to strain our eyes and find out faults. And you know the best part? We are still not able to find any as we are so mesmerized by the beauty of this masterpiece that lies awaiting in stores near to you. Go buy it! It’s damn worth its price!
Story: Hollywood Blockbuster with an actual deep story dealing with relationships and deception and how one goes to furthermost extents to get what is theirs. Sheer Brilliance! (10)
Gameplay: Same tight and fluid controls from the previous games make a return. The shooting mechanics have been updated and the hand to hand combat is the best ever. (10)
Graphics: The more I say about it, the more I want to stop writing this review and go play the game. One of the most beautifully rich and detailed games out there. (10)
Presentation: The production values are high, very high. The similar background score that we have grown to love plays in the start-up screen and throughout, game maintains a visual spectacle that can just be awed at! (10)
Replay value: The campaign will last you about 7 – 8 hours and then you have the amazing multiplayer to play through. The only thing missing this time are the bonuses such as slow motion, infinite ammo, no gravity and all those bonus features present in UC1 and UC2. Don’t know why Naughty Dog would remove that as it clearly added superb replayability to it. (9.9)
Overall: Game of the Year! Need I say more? (9.9)