Back in the mists of time, I reviewed Uncharted: Drake's Fortune for SPOnG, and I found it to be an extremely enjoyable game, if a little too short.
More recently, I reviewed Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for SPOnG and I found it to be a much more enjoyable game, but still too short in the single player campaign.
Now Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception has hit my desk, and plus ca change? I am once again playing it for the SPOnG review. I am once again enjoying it greatly. In a few hours I finished the game... let's see what I think.
There has always been something confusing about the relationship between Nathan Drake and Sulliver S. Sullivan, or whatever he's called (He's called Victor Sullivan. Ed.
). What bonded these two men of clearly different generations but not related by blood? Not by their own blood at least!
At last, in the opening scenes of Uncharted 3
all is revealed. Like something from the second series of Hustle
, Sully took the rough but promising young scallywag that was Drake as a rough but promising street thief, and turned him into a rough but promising international tomb thief. Brings a tear to my eye.
I had the temerity all those years ago, to pronounce Drake's Fortune
, as similar to Tomb Raider
. Teh Internetz immediately pronounced me a l4mer and a n00b, but I was unrepentant! To me the similarities between the two games were blatant and obvious, and Uncharted 3
does precious little to put light between the two franchises. It does even less to distinguish itself from the two previous Uncharted
games. For many, this will be a good thing. After all, when it is not broken, why fix it?
But there were times during Drake 3
that I thought, for all the world, that I was playing one of the predecessor games. The landscape, the scenery and the atmosphere are so similar as to be indistinguishable. Even the set-up and the pacing of the game are similar. Initially, Drake has to use stealth until he can snag himself a weapon... Early levels take place in a jungle environment... Certain pieces of the architecture are so similar that you flash-back to the previous games...
As a series, Uncharted
has never made any secret of its desire to be cinematic. This has been the the previous game's credit. Developer, Naughty Dog, managed to graft a credible storyline with good voice acting and snappy dialogue onto a compelling game. But as with all things cinematic: Jaws
, Star Wars
, Indiana Jones
, The Godfathers
, there is a law of diminishing returns. You can only peddle the same package a limited number of times (approximately 2.00000) before people expect and want something a little different.
While I thought that the first two games were excellent, it would be nice to see some progress in the series; there has been precious little. Sure there is some exposition of the back story, and the plot is cinematic... though to be honest the dialogue is a little more lacklustre than in Drake 2
Otherwise it's business as usual. Drake has a handful of clues to a long-lost massive treasure, and he and a band of associates traipse around the globe seeking to find it. Along the way a band of antagonists keep shooting at you.
Except, that is, for when they get you up close and unarmed, at which point they tell you their plot to rule the world, and leave you unattended strapped to a threshing machine. OK, maybe that's not what they do - but it's pretty similar. Despite the baddies spending all of the in-game scenes trying to kill you, as soon as you get to a cutscene, you are spared.
The cutscenes in this game feature a new set of characters, woven into a typical Indiana Jones
and The Mummy's Tomb Raider
-style yarn. This game introduces the characters of Cutter and Katherine Marlowe, and it's clear that Naughty Dog has been considering the prospect of that Uncharted movie
, because these characters are clearly designed to be played by Jason Statham and Helen Mirren respectively.
The story weaves its way around the globe but is noticeably devoid of any specific deception. At least, any deception that is any more pivotal to the storyline than usual.
In an old-fashioned, Saturday morning cliffhanger style, Drake's games have always had their share of narrative surprises. The title of this instalment could easily be referring to the part where Drake SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT or to the part where Sully SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT, or even the part where Elena SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT. To be honest, there is no major central deception in the plot.