Drake is back! Drake is back!! GASP DRAKE IS BACK!!
No not some Toronto rapper, foos, Nathan Drake, from Sony’s potboiler game series Uncharted. We’re at #3 if you’re counting. And if you’re not, this post will be like jibberish to you, postbear.
Lets get right to it, WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS…
Uncharted 3 is tops in the “game as movie” genre. From the beginning we’re treated to establishing scenes of how Drake and his faithful manfriend, Sully playfully interact while kicking ass in a London pub. A cut scene of dialogue and some bar-breaking rough housing, more characters show up and bla bla bla – things happen. Suddenly we’re whipped back 20 years to see the origins of Drake (something U1 and U2 never really touched upon, other than Drake telling us he’s a descendant of Sir Francis Drake) and how he teams up with Sully. This turns out to be some of the most clever writing/game production I’ve seen in a long time. Oh and all that I just described? It’s basically the tutorial for the game, hidden cleverly inside the prologue. Brill!
With Drake’s and Sully’s backstory established we jump back to the present day and continue on with the action. Without ruining anything, the game hits all the points you’d expect in an adventure movie: discovering long lost secrets, hidden cabals, pirates (modern day, vaguely Somalian – very topical) and treasures that may not actually be physically obtained. ooo! And while this is all going on we’re treated to themes of trust, revenge, hubris and even defeat – something hard to do when the purpose of a game isn’t to make the player identify with a character’s will to stop, to end. But yet they manage to create feelings of finality in some scenes – and yet you’re still mashing buttons. And wanting more.
One section of note in the game comes right after a spectacular plane crash in the desert. Juxtaposing action to calm, like we’ve seen in countless desert movies, Drake must make a long, hot journey through miles of desert. You’d think this would be extremely boring for a video game, but the designers manage to interweave dramatic cinematic elements into play. The developers succeed in engaging the player in what could have been a really risky element in an action game, which makes me love the game on so many levels. Since the movie/game genre is still in it’s infancy, the designers are able to use these well-heeled movie cliches to it’s advantage – almost like they were new.
Here’s where I go apeshit over the beauty of the game. I… Its… beautiful. Many times I stopped what I was doing just to spin the camera. I suggest you do that too. The developers Naughty Dog create such stunning environments that you forgive them the 3-4 year wait time between games. Every time I finish an Uncharted game I wonder how they’re going to outdo themselves in the next game, considering the platform hardware stays the same. I keep wondering if Naughty Dog is pushing their games up into the top levels of processing speed. Yes the environments are that impressive.
What didn’t I like about U3? The fight mechanics were redundant. Punch punch dodge punch punch – NPC is down! That’s pretty much the extent of close combat dynamics and it gets a bit repetitive at times. The character modeling during the cut scenes felt odd too, in terms of rendering. In some cases the eyes and expressions were spot on but then suddenly you’d get a character who moved their hands like they were wearing mittens, or their mouth looked like Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy. Minor points but I am sure Naughty Dog had to make concessions on some things to cram all that atmospheric goodness into one game.
Speaking of cram… I’d be happy if Naughty Dog/Sony left off the Online Gaming/Multiplayer aspects of this game to swap out more story or an extra scene here or there. I’m not an online gaming kind of guy and this part of the game will never be used by me. Considering the game is established as an adventure game, why not make the Multiplayer part be optional, paid DLC?
Okay so to sum it up… Best game I’ve played in a long time.