That said, there's very little else to complain about here. In the single-player campaign, the melee combat system is much improved over its predecessors, making it much easier to throw, counter, and brawl against groups of enemies. The new fighting mechanics get an inspired tutorial as part of an opening sequence in a London bar, recalling equal parts Indiana Jones and Guy Ritchie, that's exceptionally well-paced, shot, and written.
Meanwhile, I felt that the game's core shooting mechanics took a slight step backward, as I found it much easier to take down enemies in Uncharted 2, with headshots in particular not registering with the same regularity. This time around, foes too-often turn into bullet sponges (an issue that's always plagued the series), with shots feeling a bit less impactful than they should.
While technically sound and a breeze to play, Uncharted is perhaps best known for taking you to some truly epic places and then letting you climb, shimmy across, and investigate them. The set pieces continue to push the envelope, with memorable encounters in old castles, escapes from burning buildings, and an epic action-sequence involving a cargo plane. With only an interminable mission in a pirate shipyard as a lowlight, every mission features some amazingly fun and varied environments to climb and fight across. There are still plenty of firefights and bottlenecks that will see you die repeatedly, and puzzles that can be quite elaborate but never frustratingly so.
The multiplayer is split into two modes: co-op and competitive, with co-op including a new Adventure campaign where you and up to three friends can play shortened, remixed versions of Drake's past exploits. If you're like me and would pay good money to just see Drake, Sully, Chloe and Elena order coffee, you'll enjoy the small cinematic cut scenes that bookend each co-op mission.
The competitive multiplayer section still has its plunder, deathmatch, and team deathmatch maps, with a full range of unlockable characters, outfits, weapons, and perks. While more frenetic and slapdash than FPS deathmatches, Uncharted 3's multiplayer survives due to a strong mix of skill, luck, and teamwork. Lives are short, perks can quickly turn a battle's tide, and the ability to climb much of the environments means you have no place to hide. Multiplayer matches often take place on a single street or maybe two levels; with Uncharted, you have to look for enemies everywhere.
Overall, the combination of a robust multiplayer, a surprisingly compelling co-op adventure, and a thrilling ten-hour single-player campaign add up to a title that is, quite simply, a must-own.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception: Specs
- Available on PS3 only Age rating: 16