Those of you that know me, or read my articles, know that I'm a PS3 guy over the Xbox 360. I have no issues with Xbox; in fact, I own one that collects slightly more dust than the common Swiffer, but it seems like all it has to offer is shooters. Most games thats come out for both systems are pretty much neck and neck, (same quality, same graphics and gameplay) except that only on one of the systems you don't have to PAY to play online.
Xbox has its fair share of exclusives that are downright incredible. Outside of Mario for Nintendo, I can't think of a game as popular and as loved as Halo, and Gears of War isn't far behind. Again though, my big issue with it is....they are all just shooters!
When they first announced that Sony was in production of its third playstation console, while Microsoft was ready to release the Xbox 360, I right away sided with the PS3 because of great exclusives such as the God of War franchise and (at the time) Socom. Although Socom has been nothing but garbage on the PS3, God of War has done nothing but get stronger, but one exclusive to compete with the big dogs at Microsoft?
Enter Nathan Drake and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.
To say the very least, the Uncharted series have been my absolute favorite games. Cinema like cut-scenes, addicting storylines, Indiana Jones like action, and a main character in Nathan Drake that just left you craving more! It, along with the hope for more God of War, would make me buy the eventual PS4 when it's time to dish out another lucrative amount of money to stay relevant.
With two homeruns, the pressure would definetly be on for creators at Naughty Dog Studios to live up to the hype and set the bar even higher. Is it even possible to outdue not one, but two games of the year? Or would Nathan Drake's luck finally run out? Read on after the jump as I discuss presentation, graphics, sound, story, gameplay, and overall thoughts.
Presentation 10 out of 10 stars
Presentation isn't exactly the hardest thing in the world to set when you are already two games deep and into the characters and existing storylines. You just kind of have to pick up where you left off, and with Uncharted, they had already achieved elite status and kept going into the third installment. Whenever someone is unfamiliar with the Uncharted series the best way i can describe it is by comparing it to Indiana Jones. It is a very history driven plot (albeit made up history) also along the lines to a better written, not as cheesy as the National Treasure movie. The most impressive thing with the presentation is how they made you feel for the characters and what they were going through. One of the coolest parts of the story was in the beginning; you play a flashback of Nathan Drake as a little kid (a runaway) and how he came to meet Sully, who has become a father-figure to the main character. You feel the bond between the two and the fear of Sully being in danger. It was perfectly executed like a well-directed film, and I can only hope we see more in Uncharted 4.
Graphics 10 out of 10
Make no mistakes about it, as far as graphics are concerned, the Uncharted franchise absolutely set the bar. They are the Pixar of video games. Most animated films we see in theaters can't even compare themselves to what Naughty Dog has achieved graphically. Absolutely stunning visuals, especially during action sequences.
Story 10 out of 10
The beauty of Nathan Drake and the Uncharted video games is it's just the story of a treasure hunter. They can make 1,000 games or even stop at three if they so desired. Simple storyline, yet enhanced with history and curiosity. How many times have you started a game only to get hours into it and not pick it back up for whatever reason? That will not happen with Uncharted 3. It's hard enough putting the controller down, let alone not coming back ASAP. It is in this that developers at Naughty Dog have struck gold; they never allow their story to go stale.
Sounds 10 out of 10
This category is completely taken away by incredible voice talent, Nolan North. Some of you may be familiar with the work of Nolan North as he recently voiced The Penguin in Batman: Arkham City. He has also said he would LOVE to play Nathan Drake in a live action film. Although he is not known as an on-screen actor, he does look the part and at least does the voice acting extremely well. It would be better than Mark Wahlberg, right?
Gameplay 10 out of 10
Onto the most important category of them all. A game can look, feel, sound, and even smell like the greatest thing ever, but how does it play?
Uncharted 3 is the same incredible game as the first two but with even better graphics and a few animation tweaks. One of the tweaks I'm talking about is Drake will react to EVERYTHING around him. You come too close to a building, he'll put his hand out and touch it as he passes. You move awkwardly, Drake will stumble and almost lose his balance. Realistic physics and intelligent AI.
Above, I wrote that, comparatively, Uncharted matches up with the likes of Indiana Jones. Gameplay wise you can really complare the series the Prince of Persia series. Alongside the action and gunfights are lots of climbing and puzzles. Although the puzzles aren't all that hard (some of those puzzles in the old Prince of Persia games were so damn hard it added unneeded hours to the game), they are still enjoyable and help keep the story fresh.
My one, and possibly only complaint about this entire game are the "Boss" fights. They aren't technically boss fights, but every now and then a BIG friggin' dude (much like Raiders of the Lost Ark, airplane scene) would come out and fight. I think the game featured maybe ten of these big guys (small cuts scenes of "oh no" everytime) throughout the entire game. Well, my complaint is that each and every single fight with the BIG friggin' dudes was exactly the same. Drake would punch a couple times, doesnt effect big guy, big guy sends heavy punch your way, hit triangle to counter, then Drake would kick him in the balls and start beating him down. Big dude gets up, repeat two more times. This just seemed incredibly unnecessary and honestly lame. The first time it happened, it was cool, just like the Indiana Jones fight. After that, it was lazy.
Overall 10 out of 10
Seeing that every category up to this point has been a clean 10 out of 10, what did you expect the overall to be? I have to be honest, I feel a bit silly already replacing Batman: Arkham City as my new lead for Game Of the Year being that I just reviewed that a few weeks ago. A big difference I would like to point out is I only had a first impression of Batman (12% of the game, my full review would likely be an 8.5-9 out of 10) but with Uncharted, I had the chance to play the entire game, start to finish. All I could say after completing Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was a simple "wow." I had only hoped for it to be AS good as Uncharted 2, and Naughty Dog gave me a game that was much, much better. I highly recommend buying this game and preparing for the eventual fourth installment (rumored to come out late 2012, but we'll see).
A special thanks to my friends at Sights & Sounds in Toledo, OH.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is in stores NOW!!!