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Hands On: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Drake's on a - oh. We've done that one.

Sometimes things pop through your letterbox that evoke the same emotional response as mail ordered Spectrum games used to when I was a kid.  Yesterday it was a plainly marked Blu-ray that said “Uncharted 3: Preview” and I did a little fist-pump akin to when Bombjack made the same entrance nearly thirty years earlier.

I didn’t, of course, it’s just a game.  But if I was still a nipper I’d be punching that air like Drake himself.

It's an iconic image, but it's one that looks set to define the game's second portion. At least, that's if our guesses at the level numbers check out.
Oh, the punching.  It’s not pleasant.  I don’t generally mind so-called Quick Time Events as such, but in Uncharted 3 they don’t really flow.  There were two or three such events in the levels available in the preview code, and I didn’t really like any of them.  They change free-form fighting into a rather more frustrating affair, you constantly having to move around using Square to punch but keeping an eye on the screen for when you need to hammer Circle, or tap Triangle.

They’re designed so that pulling out a gun and plugging away, as you’re used to, isn’t really an option either – seeing opponents circle strafe you is odd and whilst I understand the need to break up the slugging, it’s not really handled very gracefully.  Hopefully the final game sees a little more refinement in this area.

Thankfully, though, with that out of the way, the rest of the game is utterly astounding.  Don’t panic – I’m still a massive fan of Uncharted’s single player and nothing has changed about the way everything other than fighting in Uncharted 3 to make me feel any differently.  In fact, my love for Naughty Dog has only increased.

In short – this is still wonderful entertainment.  The Chateau level that you’ve all seen a couple of times is a pleasure to finally play through without interference, and although there’s little to explore off the beaten (burning) path, the ability to take your time and admire the scenery is most welcome.  The visuals, once the first fire is lit, are breathtakingly done, the smoke, the colouring, the fact that everything around you is collapsing – it’s like the very best action movie you’ve ever seen, in real time.

The cover-based shooting still works too, but it’s the sense of unpredictability and chaos that makes Uncharted 3 such a good game, and as the level progresses and Drake and Sully (who’s still a brilliant asset to the series) get into ever mode ridiculously dangerous situations, the sudden fade to black as you make your final escape is gutting and cruel.  Cliffhanger indeed.

The other location, the plane sequence you’ve also probably seen, is equally good fun.  The initial stealthy section is short-lived (and featuring a really buggy video segment) but the bit in the jeep chasing the landing gear is a blast and then once you’re up, the couple of minutes as you battle to stay alive as all the cargo becomes an obstacle immediately outs the previous game’s train sequence in terms of sheer inventiveness and spectacle.

It’s a wild ride, for sure, and Naughty Dog pull a similar trick at the end, just as Drake’s world comes crashing down.  For the record, a pop-up half way through suggests we’re seeing the seventeenth level, which might give you some idea on whereabouts the desert section kicks in.  No spoilers though, not least because we’ve no idea what happens next.

And that’s probably the biggest complaint with this disk – it’s the first time media has had unmetered access to the game, but by the same token it’s the same bits of the game we’ve been seeing for months.  Sure, it’s great to be able to experience the game (and I’ll be playing through both sections multiple times) but I’d have loved to have seen a new level for the first time, so that the experience is fresh and unknown.

I can’t wait, though.  If the segments on show here are indicative of the full game, Drake’s Deception surely looks set to showcase what the PS3 is capable of like nothing else – the visuals are lovely, the animation sublime, the gameplay (QTEs aside) nigh on perfect.  Uncharted, for me, defined the console’s formative years and the third such game will bookend Sony’s latest machine just as the Vita version rolls into view.

Now then, that might prompt a fist pump.

  1. GhostViper
    Since: Aug 2008

    I can’t wait. Explorer Edition already ordered.

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 13:35.
  2. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    What is Kevtron doing on this article? :p

    I don’t like the sound of the QTE melee system. I prefer UC2’s system. I suspect the TSA staff will be fighting over who gets to review UC3. ;)

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 13:39.
  3. TheBlamBow
    Since: Oct 2011

    Great preview….and interesting to hear about the combat, I really hope it doesn’t take away too much as updated visuals, new story and set pieces, enhanced multi-player is all I would ask for…really don’t want to see too many drastic changes to any of the mechanics from the 1st and 2nd (personally).

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 13:42.
  4. turtiturt
    Since: Sep 2009

    That video is incredible!

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 13:44.
  5. bacon_nuts
    Since: Mar 2011

    Sounds great, hope it’s a good length. The last was, so undoubtedly this will be too. UC2 is probably my second most played game this ten (after portal), it’s not even one of my favourites oddly, it’s just got really really fun gameplay. Hope this is the same, it sounds it.

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 13:52.
  6. skibadee
    Since: Oct 2009

    sweet want this game the most this year.

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 14:13.
    • Crazy_Del
      Since: Jul 2009

      Me too even got my holidays sorted xD

      Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 14:37.
  7. Nylon_Crash
    Since: Jul 2010

    I cant wait for this, it come out just before my bday too

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 14:29.
  8. Ro6afc11
    Since: Feb 2009

    Ah Bombjack, I still, every so often, try and find a true replica of that game but nothing out there quite does it. The floating across the screen by repeatedly pressing the button is never quite the same or the bombs don’t light up in the correct sequence, a sequence still (mostly) buried in my brain somewhere. The Spectrum version was a pretty good representation of the arcade classic.

    Oh and can’t wait for UC3. Did some MP last night which was bloody great.

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 14:29.
  9. Reality Check
    Since: May 2011

    This comment is hidden.

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 14:31.
  10. Snakefingers13
    Since: Jul 2009

    The seventeenth level doesn’t necessarily mean much. Uncharted 2 started with the train being over the edge of the cliff, then took 15 chapters to get back to the train being over the edge of the cliff, then carried on for about another 12.

    My guess is that they’re gonna open with Drake being post-plane-sequence, then rewind a few weeks and tell the story leading up to that. Same deal as UC2.

    Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 16:46.
    • nofi
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      This is true, yes.

      Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 17:01.
    • Ben
      Since: Mar 2009

      No complaints though about that method of storytelling, it worked well in UC2.

      Comment posted on 06/10/2011 at 19:00.

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