The fact that I couldn’t pull myself away from this game is a testament to its tremendous production values, intelligent stage designs, and highly tuned difficulty. Uncharted 3 takes explorer Nathan Drake on an action-packed thrill ride from underground London to a burning French Chateau to a rusty ship yard to an ancient desert city. The pacing is breathless and it seems like every ten minutes Drake finds himself dangling precariously for dear life.

Several friends join him throughout his quest and the game thoughtfully includes a two-player split-screen coop mode. The characters are very likeable with the exception of his love interest Elena who can be a pain in the ass at times. The intriguing storyline borrows heavily from classic action films, and Indiana Jones fans will be rolling their eyes a lot. One of the early chapters offers a flashback to Drake’s youth when he was a dead ringer for Michael J. Fox.

For the bulk of the game Drake is on the trail of a lost relic while being pursued by thugs in suits and ties (Oh no! Republicans!!). Drake is one crazy monkey man. He can scale walls, hang by his arms, swing on ropes, and make great leaps over yawning chasms. Climbing in most games is slow and tedious, but here you can traverse treacherous cliffs with ease. The controls seem to work with you – not against you. The animation is interesting. Typical video game characters look stiff when they run but Drake leans from side-to-side, pushes off of things, and his momentum is a factor. He’ll automatically perform special moves like slamming a door on a pursuer, smashing a nearby bottle over a thug’s head, or snatching a gun out of the air.

The environments are incredibly detailed, beginning with a rainy London at night with its wet streets shimmering under the street lamps. When you get a nice panoramic view of the city it doesn’t look static; you can see the movement of cars in the distance. Uncharted 3’s puzzles are extremely inventive and never frustrating. The hand-to-hand combat is amazing at first, but it does tend to fall into predictable patterns over time. The lack of an auto-aim makes the shootouts challenging and exciting, but turning while aiming is slow (what happened to analog control?). There are some adrenaline-pumping chase scenes that are surprisingly long.

The voice acting is superb and the dialogue never stoops to the level of forced profanity. Your progress is auto-saved every minute. Uncharted 3 is highly cinematic and even though it leads you around by the nose it doesn’t feel like you’re being led around by the nose. Once you start getting tired of a location (like the shipyard), there’s an unexpected turn of events which lands you in a completely fresh venue. The set pieces are massive as you survive collapsing ruins, sinking cruise ships, and crashing cargo planes. Even the ending lives up to its promise, bringing Uncharted 3 – and the trilogy – to a proper and satisfying conclusion.

Used by permission © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.



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