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Developer: Naughty Dog Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Platform: Playstation 3 Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen The third chapter in Drake“s saga of treasure and adventure is just as much an internal journey as it is an external one. But does this game live up to the high bar set by its predecessor? Or does it fade into the background? Let“s not save any room for suspense -- Uncharted 3: Drake“s Deception is a phenomenal game. The real question is however, does this match up the quality of Uncharted 2? A game considered one of the best on the Playstation 3? And even taking the game of the year title? Uncharted 3 puts Drake back on the hunt for Sir Francis Drake“s legendary treasure thought to be lost for thousands of years. While that is the focal point of the story, the real focus is on the characters. Of all the Uncharted series, this one has the most character development and introspection. While Drake“s Fortune focused on his relationship with Elena Fisher and Among Thieves threw in a mixed up love triangle with Drake“s past fling Chloe Frazer, Drake“s Deception takes a look at Drake and his relationship with cigar-loving, revolver shooting, Sully. The game takes you through memory lane as it shows how Drake and Sully first met (teenage-dream Drake is adorable – and I“m comfortable enough to admit that) and how Sully took him in from a lowly orphaned street urchin to mentor him in the ways of treasure hunting and adventure I assume. While Chloe and Elena do make appearances in the campaign, the game makes it clear that the friendship between Sully and Drake is to take center stage. While I did miss Chloe“s witty lines and looks, Sully truly grew on me as a proper side character. The game does an excellent job making him an intriguing and likable character to the point that you truly begin to care for him and their bond. With this in mind, I enjoyed this story a lot more than the other two games. One thing in particular is the sense of conflict and doubt in the journey. As Drake pursues the Francis Drake“s treasure and the stakes become more and more treacherous – Drake“s resolve and reasoning is constantly thrown into question as everything caves in around him, threatening to take everything dear and near to him. It is this element that makes this story interesting and made me keep playing. Along with the story, the environments are just as, if not more breathtaking than Uncharted 2. The locales are lush and vibrant with detail. From a bustling partisan city at night under a blanket of stars, gutted village ruins in the middle of the desert rippling with heat, a ghost ship ocean liner in the middle of a horrid storm are all packed with little details and fantastic set pieces. One of my favorite being trying to escape from the ocean liner as it is sinking – water rushing in everywhere, pirates trying to shoot you while debris is dropping all around you. The sense of dread and danger is almost palpable. The action is just as varied as the environments. Included with the standard cover fire and run and gun style of the series, the melee system has been upgraded with the more variety in take-downs, counters, and even quick-time events to take down the larger thugs. Plus, the added ability to throw back grenades tossed at you. All these elements come together to make for a more frantic and fluid combat experience. I remember in one gun fight I popped out of cover and did a head shot on one soldier, while I was lining up the shot, another enemy snuck up behind me and put me in a choke hold as another foe advanced. I head-butt my attacker and then fire a shotgun point blank at the other guy. I then run for another cover only to find a grenade at my feet. Without breaking stride, I pick it up and toss it back at the crowd of hooligans. Hearing them scramble and curse before the explosion is very satisfying as I make my way across the battle grounds. And that is just a simple example of what is in store. The controls are all very responsive and tight. Having Drake run, find cover, hang from ledges, and sneak attack a guy from above are all easy tasks to do. Only in rare instances does he fail to grab a ledge or pick the wrong side of a wall to hide from gun fire. Another facet of the Uncharted series is also the puzzles. The puzzles are actually quite challenging for the series. Some require extra steps or unorthodox thinking to complete. If you need help, you can refer to Drake“s sketch book that has helpful hints in the form of notes and drawings. And if you are really stumped the game will offer you the answer. My only gripe is that some of the hints in Drake“s notebook are too vague and give little to no help at all. The campaign itself is not too long, about seven to eight hours, but that doesn“t mean the game is over. Continuing the tradition from Uncharted 2, the third installment boasts an impressive multi-player mode and now an offline or online co-op mode as well. Some new additions come in customization of your characters“ look from clothing color, skin color, perks, weapons, even animations. In addition, the stages are just as dynamic as the main story game. With epic set pieces like gunner planes doing pass overs taking shots at you for example. The only nit-pick I can give is the rare, but still annoying, controller quirks. Overall, the Drake“s Deception plays quite well and has everything that the previous game had – but even better. Pros + Deep Story + Great Action + Online Multiplayer adds a lot of replay value + Visually stunning Cons - Rare drops in accurate control - Not having anything else to gripe about Overall Score: 10 (out of 10) Masterful Uncharted 3: Drake“s Deception not only reaches the high bar of its predecessor – it takes the whole ladder. If you own a Playstation 3, it is your duty to get this whole package of a game. It shall not disappoint.