So, I’m nearing the end of the Nathan Drake Collection. I’m around three-quarters of the way through the third game, Uncharted: Drake’s Deception, and I’m actually enjoying it more than I expected.
From the word ‘go’, there’s that bar fight. Just Nate and Sully beating seven shades of shit out of a small army of South Londoners. I mean, it’s no different to what you would actually see on a standard Friday night in the town, but beating these cockneys around the head with glass bottles was really fun. It’s basic, and doesn’t ask too much of you, but it’s still a rather pleasant experience, full of humour and a great way to reintroduce you to series.
After playing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, I knew what to expect from Drake’s Deception. To be fair to it, it’s doing well at delivering the same experience as it’s predecessor… just a little grander. The combat gameplay remains mostly the same. Duck behind cover, shoot at bad guys, pop out of cover and run at guys while you shoot at them. You’ve still got the same types of enemies: the usual cannon fodder, the heavy guys to absorb bullets, snipers (that often ‘snipe’ with high calibre pistols) and shield wielders. The gunplay itself is sightly more refined, in that the bad guys are a little more dynamic — they’ll run and gun more, because it’s smarter than standing out in the open. The combat has greatly improved; in fact, it’s massively improved but it’s still not that much fun, at least not in my eyes. The biggest overhaul I have noticed has to be the melee mechanic, which is primarily showcased in that bar fight I mentioned!
The graphics have vastly improved too, not just over the course of the series from Drake’s Fortune to Drake’s Deception, but from Among Thieves as well. I’m playing the remastered Nathan Drake Collection, but even then I still notice a difference. I can only imagine that the differences at the time of release on PS3 were huge… well thankfully I’ve got Google image search for that and I can take a peek myself. From the physics to the animations and the little details, it’s clear to see the Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception would have used the full power of the PS3 and looks to me that it was the first game to hit that ceiling in terms of what could be done.
I think that Naughty Dog recognise that the storytelling of the series is its key strength. That, coupled with the decent assortment of interesting characters are what I believe have led to the saga’s success (well, it isnt the combat system, that’s for sure!). This game, as I’m sure you know as most seem to have played them, ultimately settles on Drake’s relationship with Sully, which, in a brilliant move, somewhat pushes the treasure hunting plot to the background. I think it’s a good change of pace, as although Sully’s clearly an important part of the plot in previous games, I’ve felt that he has been rather restricted to a fringe character in the past. Little details and developments in the story are missing, but on the whole it makes sense. It seems very intentional, and is fairly effective. Naughty Dog had to take the series in a somewhat different direction from the previous two installments, eschewing the inevitability of someone betraying Nathan and, oh look, was a bad guy all along. Instead, the treasure hunting plot acts more as a force to drive the Nathan and Sully story. So, I may not have the foggiest idea where this Charlie Cutter joined the crew from, for instance, or why Elena’s not particularly thrilled with it, but that’s because Nathan has more important things on which to focus, and thus, so do I. It works, and I’m honestly surprised it does, because there are a few things I still want to know regarding where some of these characters have been and what caused them to get there in between Uncharted 2 and 3.
Whether I’ll get those answers in the remainder of this instalment, I’m not too sure.
I know that I slagged Chloe Frazer off last time around for not being all that memorable, but I feel like I’ve come around a little. She’s been a major part of this story so far, and she doesn’t irritate me. Which is good. Uncharted has always been known for its charm, even those of us who haven’t played the series, we are all aware of its successes. From the incredibly animated facial expressions, to the legitimately stellar voice work that is on par with — if not better than — most movies and television shows, Uncharted continues to feature the most developed, likable cast in video game history. They feel like your friends rather than characters you’re controlling. It’ll feel weird to think that when I finish this game, I’ll realise that I can’t continue to hang out with them or hear their snide remarks.
This game just feels so much more thought out than the others, in the end it’s often the little things that can make a game so good. Although a lot of this is common place in today’s games, back in 2011 it wasn’t. Drake’s Deception is much bigger on the little touches in comparison to the other Uncharted titles. If you run Nathan into a wall, he’ll react by putting his hands out and stopping himself. If you walk him near a wall, he’ll stick his hand out and brush up against it. He also stumbles more in this installment, because when you’re swinging from a chandelier, to a broken pipe, to another chandelier, then barely make a landing on a rotting wooden walkway, you’re going to stumble. The fighting mechanics have great little touches as well as i’ve mentioned. With the overhaul of the melee mechanics, the game sees bruiser enemies, which are simply big, muscular enemies that Nate generally has to fight when he, for one reason or another, doesn’t have any guns or explosives on hand. Aside from each bruiser fight feeling like a cut scene even though you’re controlling the whole thing, a fantastic touch is, occasionally, if Nathan manages to knock the guy on the floor, but stumbles in the process, Nate will kind of leap off his knees and deliver a final blow to the bruiser, with both of them on the ground.
Nathan’s humor and mindless chatter with himself is arguably my favourite thing about the whole series. It’s funny in all the right moments. is back as well, so don’t worry, the game is still funny at all the right moments.
I felt like I’ve totally swayed off topic here and ending up partially reviewing the game, but whatever… I’m almost there, just a few… more… hours……
Thoughts on the series so far…
It is continuing to improve at a decent pace, which is great. I’m looking forward to getting the final game of the collection out of the way so I can taste what a true PS4 Uncharted experience is like.
It’s not without it’s niggles but I’m beginning to gain a better understanding of why it’s a series loved by so many.
Am I a convert? Not just yet, but I’m starting to fall for it.