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    « Max Payne 3: More than Bullet Time | Main | Tim and Eric and Genki Sell You on Saints Row: The Third »

    Uncharted 3: Naughty Dog's Deception

    A little bit of this, a little bit of that, but mostly stuff like this

    Uncharted 3 has the unfortunate honor or being the follow up to Uncharted 2, one of the best games of 2009, and still one of the most impressive titles released on PlayStation 3. The series is one of the closest things I've ever played to a movie thanks to the brilliant harmony achieved by all its parts. Writing, acting, action, and cinematography come together to offer a dynamic experience that is as fun to watch as it is to play. Been that way since the start. The third entry in the series is undoubtedly a blast to play and watch, and the production value is as amazing as always. Then why is it that after completing the campaign I couldn't help but feel a bit empty?

    Cardinal Sin, something I would never ever expect to occur in an Uncharted title: underutilization and underdevelopment of characters. Early in the game there's an awesome flashback segment that establishes a bit of character, which led me to expect more of the same. Nope. The surprisingly complex character of Charlie Cutter goes to waste, with no back story and little progress. Chloe, though very well established in Uncharted 2, plays a minor part. She is too good of a character to write off like that, man. Primary antagonist, international man of mystery, and Nathan Drake look-a-like, Talbot, receives no explanation for some of the incredible magic he works throughout the campaign. Even poor Victor Sullivan gets a bit of the old write-off later in the game! Shall I go on? It ends up feeling like a massive let down, especially when you see scenes like the aforementioned flashback, or a great moment Nate and an old friend share on a couch late in the game. It makes you wonder why that good stuff is missing from a huge portion of the title, especially knowing Naughty Dog is so good at it. Disappoint.

    Two of these gentlemen are dreadfully underutilized

    Though action fans need not fear, the sweet adrenaline rush you love is still in tact. Poor Nate takes his beatings seven ways as always, falling through floors and losing his grip on rain-slicked ladders suspended above perilous pits of sunken ship shrapnel. Every hit this guy takes makes me cringe, and the hits become progressively more painful as the story goes on. Did I say hits? Though there are no tabs of acid, there are some nifty psychedelic moments within, which raise completely new questions. The gunplay is tightened, with new weapons added. Though this time around, dem developing Dogs seem to have put an increased focus on melee fighting. Tangling with two grunts at a time is a slick experience, especially when you see Drake work a well-timed weave, effectively dooming a goon by his mate's fist. There are also larger, stronger enemies to chop down with a knife edge hand, requiring some timing to permanently drop. In your face, button mashers. Though it's a welcome addition, most times you'll see the same fight animations twice in one bout. Recycling animation is an old trick, however it's a bit more obvious when it occurs twice in under a minutes time, against the same enemy.

    Campaign will last you around 8 solid hours, and once completed you can spend another couple dozen hours in multiplayer! There are plenty of modes to go around, both co-op and competitive, to assure that there's something to tickle anyone's 5 o'clock shadow. During the dev cycle, Naughty Dog stated they wanted to recreate the online mulitplayer experience to stand toe-to-toe with the big boys - who just happened to launch within the same two weeks of Uncharted 3. A lofty goal to say the least, but the ambition is admirable. However I don't think they quite managed to reach the same level as a Modern Warfare, Battlefield, or Halo. The textures appear to be down-rezzed, sacrificing graphical quality for a smooth frame-rate, I'm guessing. Also, the maps are pretty expansive, both vertically and horizontally, so I'm sure the texture limitations help add to that. The competitive modes are pretty smooth, with plenty of ways to take down your nemesis', wherever you may encounter them.

    The better you play, the higher your level climbs and the more cash you earn. As you increase in level, you unlock more character skins, weapons, and customization options. There are some pretty neat skins, like Doughnut Drake and the animated skeleton of Francis Drake. Weapon customization could be better, as could character customization. There are a lot of ways to dress up your custom hero, however none of them are truly compelling. For instance, you can't even give these avatars hair! Where the Rogaine at? Give me Salim or Marco 'Beret Bones' Polo over the tired, bald marine archetype any day of the week.


    The most fun I had in the multiplayer was with co-op adventure. It's a set of maps that comprise their own self-contained story. One that doesn't seem to be canon, as it features cameos from series has-beens such as Flynn, Eddy, and Lazarevic. These co-op adventures are more gun-heavy than anything else, though there is some very basic platforming sprinkled in because, hey, this is Uncharted after all. These missions are built for two players (who control a mix of Nate, Sully, Cutter, Elena, and Chloe) but can be played with 3 as well. The third player is merely a tack on though, rarely speaking or being featured in cut scenes. In Uncharted fashion, co-op adventure boils down to the treasure hunt, with the means being firepower. You tackle waves of enemies punctuated by those big armored fools who take forever to drop. The maps are rather large, but can only be progressed through when all players stand within a checkpoint, so make sure your team is on the same page. I really enjoyed playing on Hard, as it's good practice for the competitive modes, and a great way to bank for that $100k pair of Oakleys you want for your custom hero. That's some Saks 5th Avenue shit right there.

    Maybe I was so spoiled with Uncharted 2 that I feel the follow up can't fill big brother's shoes. The story feels rushed and not as fleshed out as it could have and probably should have been, but there is still much fun to be had. Though as mentioned earlier, everything takes a back seat to the action. Uncharted 3 has been Mass Effect 2'd, if you will. The game has been stripped down to gun fights, fist fights, collapsing structures, and foot-chases. Both fans of the series and newcomers will enjoy Uncharted 3; what's not to like? Though if you fell in love with the series for its variety, strong characters, and superb storytelling, prepare to be disappointed.

    The Score: 8 outta 10 Blasters! (rounded up from 7.5)

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