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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception review

Our Rating :
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Does little to reinvent the series, but with such a masterful blend of action, plot and presentation, it really doesn't need to

Uncharted is undoubtedly the jewel in the PlayStation 3’s rather slender crown of exclusive titles. An appropriate metaphor for a series concerned with the adventures of treasure-hunter, or should that be tomb raider, Nathan Drake. Yes, Drake’s exploits may come from the same vein as Lara Croft’s, but developer Naughty Dog has safely surpassed that franchise for now, with a recreation of matinee-pulp adventures that is simply second to none.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception starts with an enviable line up of characters to draw upon, and some excellent voice talent to bring them to life. Indiana Jones-style romps don’t require great character development or heart-rending scenes, but in terms of script and delivery we’d say that Uncharted 3 comes closer to the quality of the original movie than any other game we can recall.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
The actors record their lines together on a motion capture stage, so you get interaction and performances of movie-like quality

The characters are pure class, with intriguing quirks beyond their initial stereotypes – an erudite, claustrophobic cockney gangster for example. That their motivations are clear puts them one step ahead of many games, that they are also nuanced and developed beggars belief in what could be regarded as a straight action game, rather than an involved RPG. The third game takes this characterisation further, but not at the expense of lengthy cutscenes or exposition.

The plot of this third instalment starts on the streets of London, or at least London seen through the lens of Lock-Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Thankfully for British players, it quickly moves along to more exotic locales, with Drake chasing the ‘Atlantis of the Sands’ by uncovering his namesake’s long-buried secrets. Supernatural powers, a secret society and plenty of globetrotting follow.

Like a good Bond movie, Uncharted 3 strings together an incredible variety of locations. Each is lushly detailed, lovingly researched and graphically jaw-dropping. The PlayStation 3 may be entering its latter years, but the graphics here show that it has plenty more to give. The accolades must be given to the developer and its obviously huge budget, for every scene has had time and effort lavished upon it.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
A series of imaginative and beautifully rendered locales are at the core of Uncharted 3

These environments are further enhanced by their dynamic nature. A building collapses around you as fire consumes it, a ship is flipped on its side with you beneath decks, and a plane bucks and sways as you shoot at goons in its hold – while the only cover slips and slides across the deck. One level, with huge waves buffeting a boat, took our breath away. All this motion sets Uncharted above other third-person action adventures. And this is further enhanced by some brilliant character animation, which makes everyone appear to really inhabit these constantly shifting worlds.

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