Uncharted 2 ended up being a smash hit. Perhaps one of the best video games sequels ever produced. It was better than the first game in almost every conceivable way. It's hard to imagine any follow up to Uncharted 2 being half as good but rest assured, Uncharted 3 is just as good as it's predecessor. If you played the first two games and enjoyed them then you simply have to play Uncharted 3.
The story in Uncharted 3 is a bit more rich and defined than the first two games. Nathan Drake is back and this time he's searching for the Atlantis of the Sands. It has something to do with the ring he inherited from Frances Drake. But a woman by the name of Katherine Marlowe believes that ring is hers and it ultimately holds the key to finding this lost city. On paper Uncharted 3 sounds pretty basic, but watching the story in action showcases a strong character driven narrative. In particular players will learn more about the dynamic between Nathan Drake and Sully. The cast is remarkable and charming. And we learn about them not just through the cutscenes but how they interact with one another during some of the moments in between the actual cutscenes. The dialog and banter between them is charming, humorous and sometimes even heartfelt. There are also moments that can, and often do, feel as though they've been ripped from a summer blockbuster. Though some of it is definitely over the top, the character driven nature of the story is what ultimately makes it so good. Like the first two there is a distinct human element at play that makes the simple situation an interesting one.
The cutscenes are aided by extremely good direction and motion capture as well. The characters feel human. But more than that, Uncharted 3 is simply a beautiful game. The environments the game takes place in are detailed and the animations are smooth. The Uncharted games in general are some of the prettiest you'll ever see. But it isn't just that they're visually astounding, it's that their detailed and encompassing. The environments come alive. Other details also stand out a lot. Water or sand is amazing and the way the physics work is also amazing. If there's one thing we can clearly say about Naughty Dog, it's that they'll never skimp on the presentation of a game. The voice acting is equally as good and charming. Some of the best you'll hear in the industry. As you play and watch the characters interact and hear their voices it's hard not to love them. You'll be drawn into their personal hell and anguish, but also their joy. It's all great on the eyes and ears.
Gameplay wise, Uncharted 3 hasn't changed too terribly from the first two. There is a good amount of gunplay, platforming and puzzle solving throughout the adventure and the game does a very good job of balancing them all and pacing things along. The gunplay in and of itself hasn't changed much. You'll find yourself charging from one firefight to the next, taking down the bad guys and picking up their weapons or replenishing your own supply of ammo. You'll also take cover to avoid fire and pop up to shoot when the time is right. You can also enter melee combat which is fun as well given how much it has improved over time.
The platforming sections are generally among the easiest to acquaint yourself with. You'll find yourself scaling walls or jumping from ledges or hanging off objects all in an attempt to keep yourself from falling too far. Despite all the detail, the path is usually laid out for you. This is also true throughout the entire game. You'll rarely get lost or not know where to go next. You'll also rarely find yourself backtracking as a result. Aside from a few of the hidden treasures off the beaten path, there's no reason to really deviate from your destination. And if something should happen where you find yourself stuck, the game will point you in the right direction. The puzzles are pretty creative and simple. You won't find yourself stuck for too long, given that the game will provide hints thanks to a journal that Nate carries around with him.
The game handles all of this well, rarely keeping you in any given situation for long. What is more amusing is how much adventure is truly packed into this game. The second game, in particular, had amazing moments: A helicopter chase across rooftops, an amazing train sequence, a game of cat and mouse with a large tank and a jeep chase were just some of the second game's highlights. Uncharted 3 does a little more. Without spoiling anything, you'll find some of these moments leaving you quite breathless at the spectacle. It's not the situations themselves that are amazing as it is how the game presents them. You'll even find yourself scaling and shooting at enemies firing from above and watching as they tumble forward and fall past you. It's amazing stuff.
Without a doubt the biggest overhaul is multiplayer. Before the versus primarily had you on teams but here you can do a free for all or three teams against each other at the same time. You still have other modes such as the co-op survival mode or a variation of capture the flag. You also still have tons of different boosters to equip. But you can also enter matches with temporary boosters (called kickbacks) which you can get by earning a certain number of medals. They're not permanent but they help for those who may need that small boost. Likewise, for those who want a truly hardcore experience you can always go onto the hardcore battle arena. The maps are also ingeniously designed. Not only are your opponents people you have to look out for, but so are some of the environmental effects. In one level a sand storm rolls in, for instance.
The most rewarding is the co-op experience. Sure you can still go into an arena and do a survival mode and whatnot, but there's actually a co-op campaign here as well. And it's a full blown story campaign, complete with cutscenes and everything. You can team up with two friends and go at it. It's remarkably satisfying and pretty addictive.
Uncharted 3 isn't perfect by any means. Like the first two before it, there's a lot of precision in playing. For example how the game times some of its jumps when say... platforms are falling from beneath you. Or cutscenes that run seamlessly into gameplay. If you're not on the ball you may find yourself retrying certain segments constantly. Some moments can feel like a trial and error practice simply because you don't know WHERE to go immediately and thus you fail until you figure it out. Since Uncharted 3, like the previous two, is very straightforward and linear you generally only have one option out of a situation. If you don't find it fast enough in some of the more time sensitive moments you're done for. In other situations your timing may be off by just a second. Uncharted has always been somewhat of a challenge but most of it comes from the first hand experience. When you play through a second time things tend to flow more seamlessly when you know exactly where you're going and what you're doing. The good news is that checkpoints are everywhere. If you end up failing a platforming section or a gun fight you usually tend to start right next to it. So the game won't punish you too badly.
Uncharted 3 is a great follow up to Uncharted 2. Whether or not the game is better is up for debate. The multiplayer suite certainly is, but for some fans who were truly blown away by Uncharted 2, they have to face the fact that the third game isn't exactly the same leap forward that the second one was. You've got new weapons, a revamped melee system and you can now toss grenades back to your enemies... but for the most part Uncharted 2 didn't have much that needed fixing to begin with. It was a near perfect game, addressing each and every issue the first game had. With not much to address there isn't much for Uncharted 3 to really improve upon. Or add, for that matter. In seems the only part that Naughty Dog strived for more with was the story. And they succeeded. You certainly get a much more emotionally involved story but the gameplay is primarily the same thing here. If you've enjoyed the gameplay of the series thus far, there's no reason not to jump into this one. The story and characters alone make this a must play for Uncharted fans.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes (Sean_Rhodes)
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
A search for the fabled "Atlantis of the Sands" propels fortune hunter Nathan Drake on a trek into the heart of the Arabian Desert. When the terrible secrets of this lost city are unearthed, Drake’s quest descends into a desperate bid for survival that strains the limits of his endurance and forces him to confront his deepest fears.