After the launch of 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves', Naughty Dog started noticing they had more people in the company's employ than ever before, and realized that all could be put to good use, so the decision was made to split the team into two so that each side could work on their own game.
One team was working on 'Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception', and it was riding on the hype of 'Uncharted 2's success instead of standing on it's own...
This time, Nathan Drake is thwarting off an old foe from his youth named Katherine Marlowe, alongside her assistant, Talbot, and the pirate, Rameses, to uncover Sir Francis Drake's secret knowledge about the lost city of Ubar, A.K.A. Iram of the Pillars (A.K.A. The City of Brass, A.K.A. The Atlantis of the Sands). Aided once again by the usual suspects apart from Tenzin from 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves', Drake recieves additional assistance to series newcomers, Charlie Cutter and Salim, the leader of his local tribe at the Rub' al Khali desert. Study up on your T.E. Lawrence, kids, it's about to get sandy.
This installment allows for a miniscule raise in difficulty compared to the last game with more aggressive enemies who are more willing to confront you head-on for some all-out brawling. The mellee combat, though being the biggest improvement, also turns out to be the biggest focus in fighting enemies. You're now able to throw opponents and grab them against walls and object and even use environmental weapons against them in some cases (one fight in France, I knocked out a guy so hard that his head rocked back at the rear door of an armored HUMMER-like SUV good enough to pop the door off, allowing me to see all the details in the vehicle, that was awesome). Platforming is also less hand-holding in this game, as you make more mistakes and need more precision in certain areas to get through (or in other cases, more erraticism). The shooting went through a mysterious phenomenon at the game's launch that caused fan reaction to demand the aiming to be more like 'Uncharted 2', and thus a patch allowed an alternate aim method to please fans. SPEAKING OF WHICH, the initial launch of'Uncharted 3 had plenty of glitches such as game-breakers and missing animations and per-object motion blur, this was all fixed and restored in the same patch. The REAL downer is the removal of unlockable in-game goodies such as skins and weapons, which is really missed in this game.
The graphics had some interesting improvements and experimentation, the lighting was upgraded using volumetric light shafts, and while Havok was still utilized for ragdolls, Naughty Dog turned to HOUDINI for procedural water physics in realtime and fractured geometry for destruction. Naughty Dog also began experimenting with a new ZLib technique of spooling animations directly from the disc in the retail version, to save processor resources, this would be the cause of the game's initial launch problems as the method wasn't perfected and caused communication with the HDD to stress out and cause severe fragmentation with older PS3 HDD's. This was also fixed in recent patches and by building the database of the HDD at the PS3's system recovery menu (it's also vastly improved in the digital version by relying solely on the HDD). Character models had nice improvements as well, especially as clothes were changed from country to country. And environments are their most beautiful here in the entire series, especially with certain areas bristling with people, it's surely splendid.
The story, while still great for the game that it is, was raising more questions than answers, Naughty Dog explained that the story process was mired by time constraints and an unfortunate circumstance involving Charlie Cutter actor Graham McTavish (whom also did Lazarević in 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves'), who had obligations to Warner Bros. to do the 'Hobbit' trilogy and began to depart halfway through production. This forced the U3 team to change the entire second half of the story hastily as they also had to deal with the rest of the game development simultaneously.
Greg Edmonson's seemingly last hurrah on the 'Uncharted' series is a real blast perfectly worthy of his repertoire with the franchise. The Arabian tones could ideally be utilized in a 'Lawrence of Arabia' film reboot if ever granted, it's just majestic. Also, voice acting is is top notch as always, just like the first two 'Uncharted's.
The online is not so favorable here, as the competitive segments take too many pages from the 'Call of Duty' series to truly stand on it's own, despite the signature Uncharted gameplay. Co-op is harder than before and more elseworlds story scenarios, such as old foes returning from past games, keep interest at the possibilities of the 'Uncharted' universe. The cinema mode now includes the ability to record matches in-game and convert the clips to video so you can save to your HDD or upload directly to YouTube.
While some gamers may hate it for being more cinematic, they DO overlook the enhancements that HAVE been made, 'Uncharted 3:Drake's Deception IS the the best in the series to me, but still playable and tolerable to anyone else expecting a repeat of 'Uncharted 2's lightning-in-a-bottle. "YALLAH!!!"