|Dev: Naughty Dog|
|Release: November 1, 2011|
|Players: 1, 2 offline, 3 online co-op, 12 online versus|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
To be honest, I never expected the Uncharted series to take off. I mean, it was a no-name series from developer Naughty Dog, whose only real claims to fame beforehand were Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. (There's also Math Jam if you are old enough to remember the Apple II.) Back in 2007, if you told me that these guys would make one of the best-selling action/adventure PS3 exclusives, I would say you are out of your mind, and I would steal your limited edition Crash Bandicoot t-shirt for saying something so dumb. Yet Uncharted was great, and Uncharted 2 was even better. Now it looks like Naughty Dog will do it again with Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. You were right, and I'll have your t-shirt sent back to you in the mail.
Uncharted 3 takes place about a year after Uncharted 2. Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan (otherwise known as Sully) are on a mission to discover the mythical city "Atlantis of the Saints," which supposedly holds wealth and treasure beyond any man's wildest dreams. (Of course, for Nathan Drake, there's the added bonus of becoming the subject of every fourteen-year-old girl's next slash fanfic.) Unfortunately, the city was buried at the bottom of the ocean by the gods because of the wickedness of the people who lived there. Drake, on the other hand, figures that raiding the lost city for its gold is far more virtuous, so there's no way anything could go wrong. Right?
Of course, this is Uncharted we are talking about. In the tradition of Indiana Jones, Nathan is harassed at every turn by random thugs, international crime organizations, and strange clandestine orders of ancient tribal religions. Nathan and Sully only have the old writings of Sir Francis Drake to guide them, and by following his path they hope to eventually reach the ruined city. It's just a shame that his path frequently puts them in gun fights in the middle of burning buildings.
Uncharted 3 is a game made entirely for co-op play. Nathan and Sully will be together throughout most of their journey, and most of the time neither can progress without the other's help. Sully carries his own firearm and will attack the enemies around you with pretty decent aim, ala Resident Evil 5. However, unlike RE5, your co-op actions are not limited to random footstool jumps or switch puzzles. There will be frequent points where both characters will assist each other: providing cover fire, developing interesting ways to cross impassable chasms, and even doing such small things as helping each other when a player's foot falls through a floor or wanders into a pit of quicksand.
More interesting is how Naughty Dog is playing with the Uncharted gameplay expectations we already have. For example, many ledges may not be sturdy enough to jump to or hang off of, but there are only subtle visual clues to tip you off to their instability. So there will be plenty of times when Nathan will jump to a ledge, just as he has so many times in the past, only to find it crumbling underneath him. Not to worry, because these crumbling platforms aren't instant death; they are just branching pathways. For example, falling off a ledge can cause Nathan to drop into an underground cave, taking a more roundabout way to his destination. Sully will then have to take a different path, splitting the two up and making them weaker as a consequence. Similar split-ups can occur when you fail cooperative actions as well. Sully may reach for your hand before you fall, only to miss you at the last moment.
Drake has a couple new moves to throw around in Uncharted 3. Stealth kills gain a renewed focus, with Drake now able to leap at his enemies from tall places Assassin's Creed-style. Drake also gains a variety of new close-combat maneuvers, including clinched and grapple fighting techniques that allow him to fight two enemies at once. If, say, one enemy grabs you from behind, there's still nothing preventing you from kicking another enemy in front of you. It makes gameplay feel much more cinematic.
Multiplayer is also a big focus in Uncharted 3. Multiplayer modes are chiefly built around two-person teams, with major modes like deathmatch being variations on 2v2v2 and so on. (Of course, there are free-for-all modes included as well.) Two-man game mechanics saturate every mode. For example, you always know where your partner is on the map (outlined by a green square that shows through your surroundings) and you can choose to respawn next to him if you die (although you can't do this if your partner is currently involved in a fire-fight.) Thinking together strategically will earn you more rewards than simply going at it alone.