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Naughty Dog’s third instalment in the epic story of Nathan Drake is a mix of revelation and deceit. Will Drake be able to confront his worst enemy? 
Drake is on a quest to find the ‘Atlantis of the Sands’, a city lost in the middle of the Arabian Desert.

In case you have been living under a rock, or stuck in some unknown ruin, Drake’s story is episodic enough in nature that you can start Uncharted 3 without playing 1 and 2 without any major loss of understanding. (Major loss of honour and standing due to the mockery from your gaming peers, however, is a whole different topic altogether.)

The buildings and levels are bigger, taller and more unpredictable than ever before. The magic of rotting wood, crumbling stone, fire, water and sand will turn your world upside down, and look good while doing it. The platforming is highly polished, with handholds merging with the environment, instead of looking like tacked on extras. There are levels that make the train scene in Among Thieves seem tame and tiny by comparison. Drake will often lose one or both of his weapons after a nasty fall or other story-related incident, adding to the dynamic nature of the game.

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This results in him spending a bit more time unarmed, leading to more brawl and stealth sections. This coupled with the addition of oversized brutes, which have to be taken down in mêlée, adds some meat to the brawling facet of combat. Drake adds a few new moves to his brawling arsenal, as enemies attempt to choke or disable him, he can rough his way out, or even get a solid counter in against anyone hoping for a cheap shot. Drake can now disable an enemy by dropping down on them from a ledge, which rewards players who make full use of the world around them. Some sections now feature destructible environments, which allow even more ways to get rid of pesky machinegun nests.

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The graphics are truly amazing. Several deaths were directly attributed to enjoying the scenery. Field of view effects have been improved immensely and add to the immersion. A lack of load screens and no texture pop-in adds to the fluid, believable nature of the game. Nathan grunts, stumbles and steadies himself realistically, and will often nurse a sore shoulder or his knuckles after a rough jolt or fisticuffs respectively. Atmospheric effects like lens flares, smoke and dust motes are amazingly believable and the camera emulates Drake’s vision: Enter a gloomy area and watch as the environment gradually becomes bright enough. Run out into daylight and watch as colours fade to white for a while.

The story finally sheds some light on the relationship of Sully and Drake. Discover a bit more about Nate and how he became a treasure hunter. Some new faces and old friends will help Nathan survive his most challenging quest ever, as he finds himself pitted against a secret organisation with dark ties to Drake.

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Ever wanted to explore this wonderful world with a friend? Maybe see the world through Sully’s eyes? Split-screen and online co-op modes offer new challenges and character interactions. Play through a section of story with your friends (not limited to levels from Uncharted 3 either), or opt for a heavy action killing fest where enemies literally arrive in a puff of smoke. There is lots of fun to be had in this mode, but the split-screen may make things look too small, depending on your screen.

Greg Edmonson, the composer who gave ambiance to Uncharted 1 & 2, breathes musical genius and life into Uncharted 3. Familiar pieces evoke nostalgia, while the new compositions define the mood and tempo of the game. The score of Uncharted 3 is rousing and aggressive at times, but can also convey the daring, action and tension perfectly.

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After a mind-blowing campaign and some fun co-op action, the multiplayer is a real extra treat. Earning coins has been moved away from the single player content and is completely devoted to co-op and multiplayer unlocks. Add to this a levelling system as a secondary requisite for unlocks and a large, rewarding game mode emerges. Weapon upgrades, character skins and perks add depth to several fast multiplayer maps.

A second take – by Tauriq Moosa (does not affect score)

A very good game but it’s broken. It’s the first time playing a PlayStation game where it felt as though the console didn’t have the requirements to run it. Problems abound: Choppy, broken cut-scenes; extended loading times that ended up with Drake’s Ring of Death (the spinning ring, indicating a loading screen, just keeps spinnin’, spinnin’, spinnin’); the most horrific aiming in existence; and some bad incidents in the multiplayer.

The most glaring glitch is mainly in multiplayer where if you melee attack specific foes (i.e. guys with gas-masks), they freeze and nothing happens, until they’re able to grab you in a head-lock. Your character just keeps making the motions of a melee attack, until you stop to allow him to grab you. It’s as though the game has prioritised “villain gets you in headlock” over “you slap villain in the face” – that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be noticeable to the point where the game cracks because you’re forcing a change in those priority settings.

Where the game is good, it’s excellent. It’s Drake! The beautiful graphics, the creepily realistic motions of playable characters – it feels like you’re controlling real people – and the epic story are all wonderful. But it’s definitely one of the most flawed of the recent titles for PS3. Unfortunate considering its also something of a symbol for the PS3’s brilliance

Scoring

Gameplay: 9/10.

A compelling story full of witty banter, fluid combat and a plethora of game modes will have you revisiting this title for more. The aiming does feel a tad slow at times, but it does add to the realism. The over-zealous minions who stop to shoot at you when their lives are in danger detract from this, however.

Design and Presentation: 10/10.

The graphics are unbelievable; there are no texture pop-ins and no load screens. All of this is achieved without a mandatory install or a massive day one patch.

Value: 9/10.

All of those treasures, both in Single Player and co-op will keep you visiting for more. This is about when the addiction to Uncharted 3’s multiplayer occurs…

Overall: 9.5/10.

It cannot be overstated how amazing this game is. A compelling storyline coupled with gorgeous visuals will literally suck you in and take you on an unforgettable journey. If only there were a few more puzzles.

Last Updated: November 9, 2011

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Summary
9.5

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