Naughty Dog, famous for the Crash Bandicoot series, have put themselves on the map in 2007 with their début of the Uncharted franchise with Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. In the beginning, cynics were confident this was just Tomb Raider with a male lead character, but Naughty Dog had proved them wrong. Two years later, they released the sequel, Among Thieves, breaking the mold of what we know as action/adventure gaming. Now, in 2011 we have Uncharted: Drake's Deception, which adds to the collection of the action/adventure genre of gaming.
Uncharted: Drake's Deception takes us back to the roots of the original title, where Nathan Drake is further investigating his alleged ancestor, Sir Francis Drake, and delving deeper into the story of the necklace ring that Nathan wears. Drake's Deception goes into a personal vendetta when a woman of his past, Katherine Marlowe, is revealed trying to pry the ring from Drake's possession and find the secrets of Sir Francis.
The game opens with a rather impressive fight scene in a London bar with Nathan and Victor "Sully" Sullivan making a deal with a man named Talbot to accept payment for the ring of Sir Francis, but the deal goes awry when Sully discovers the money to be counterfeit. We travel with Drake and Sully along with friends Chloe and Elena from London to Columbia, from France to Yemen, and from Syria to the Rub' al Khali desert in a quest to learn the truth behind Sir Francis' expedition.
I found Drake's Deception to be a top notch action/adventure game with a compelling storyline, deep characters, delicious gameplay, and a musical score that was a treat to listen to. It was overall enjoyable and stuck to the roots of the previous games that made the franchise so successful. I was glad to see that online multiplayer and co-op made a return, for they added to the replay value and overall enjoyment of the title.
Drake's Deception took a step up when it came to the melee combat. You're able to not only get into realistic brawls with your enemies, but you're able to dodge and counter-attack and use the environment to your advantage. Getting into a brawl with the men at the London pub made for a good preview of what's to come later in the game. Pressing the square button repeatedly will allow you to throw a few punches to your foe, but keep in mind, with realistic AI, he will dodge your attacks here and there, and attempt to counter and grab you. Hitting him a few good times will stagger him, and if in the proper spot, you can grab a nearby object and hit him with it by using square again. As well as grabbing and throwing enemies as well. Even though this brawl is foreshadowing of what's to come, Uncharted, like most games of its genre are heavy on repetition.
Speaking of repetition, as one would generally expect, in Drake's Deception, you will undoubtedly be having gunfights left and right with two or three waves of enemies. These fights can prove challenging even on the normal difficulty setting. You're required to keep moving and rely on situational awareness. So while you're trying to take out the man with an RPG, keep in mind the brute in heavy armour with a shotgun that recently disappeared from view; chances are, he's probably going to flank you. While it gets increasingly annoying and tedious, at times, the gunfights can be quite enjoyable, if you've brought the right fork to the table.
I have to admit though, being just a casual gamer and a mild fan of the series, I was able to pick up on a few flaws that I'm sure the most avid Uncharted fan would have looked past. That includes the repetition, some slow loading textures, and the fact that the game is pretty much all over the place in terms of locations. You'll have one mission here, two missions there, one mission here, four missions there. It seemed to me like Naughty Dog was trying to cover a wider range of exotic locations, but only giving us a taste of each. Furthermore, when it comes to action and cinematic sequences, it came across like we were being shown the cool moments, and not getting the opportunity to experience them. I found that to be a tragic flaw in the gaming, and would have garnered a better review score in my eyes had it been different.
In the end, Drake's Deception is just a good game. It's not spectacular, it's not mind blowing, and it's not epic like we were lead to believe. It lacked some sort of oomph and pizazz that Among Thieves overflowed with. So while I did enjoy the third instalment to the franchise, I'll let it collect some dust while I play some more of Drake's Fortune and it's sequel.