Official PlayStation Magazine UK’s GOTY: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

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Despite the sky-high standards developer Naughty Dog set itself with Among Thieves, it’s no shock that its follow-up blew us away. What is surprising is that there was something of a backlash (admittedly a modest one) against what took your Game Of The Year gong in a landslide.

While it still scored strongly across the board, some criticised U3 for its linearity, and focus on set-pieces and cut-scenes. Which seems a bit like criticising GTA for being open-world, or Modern Warfare for featuring shouting men pointing bang-sticks at each other while stuff explodes in the background. This is what you get in an Uncharted game: narrative-driven video sequences, snappy back-and-forth between the characters and spectacular (if not free-roaming) shoot-outs.

And nobody does it better. For the second time in succession we’ve been brought an epic adventure featuring gaming’s most loveable cast, but the formula’s been refined and – like a delicious blue cheese getting ever more mouldy – matured over time.

It’s not the high-octane thrill-ride that 2 was, but the more deliberate pacing shows an almost unique assuredness from the developer. There’s no way that you’re going to tear your eyes away from what’s happening on-screen, and Naughty Dog has used this fact to its advantage by allowing Drake’s backstory and relationship with Sully to slowly unravel, rather than feeling the need to rush things.

What this means is you fall even more in love with these characters – something we didn’t think possible – and when the massive action scenes do kick in, they hit home even harder. And in this regard Drake’s Deception is undoubtedly the series’ highlight, with sequences so spectacular you can’t believe they’re interactive until you’re actually guiding Drake out of a sinking cruise ship as water bursts in through every door and porthole. Or having him cap goons as he flaps about on a cargo net out the back of a jumbo jet 10,000 feet off the ground. Or sprint through a legendary lost city as the entire thing collapses around you. Or…

It also looks better than anything else on PS3, with gorgeous environments and scarcely believable character models, and has a sometimes funny, always emotive script other games can only dream of. And while we’ve come to expect that from the series by now, Naughty Dog’s achievement is still worthy of huge praise: compare it to almost any other game from almost any other developer and it’d be a fight so one-sided you’d almost feel bad.

The studio’s only problem now is the same one that it faced last time: how do you top this performance when expectations will be even higher for the next game? Other than Elena and Chloe striking up a very special ‘friendship’, we have no idea. But we really, really can’t wait to find out.

 

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