“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was all vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This, I did.”
Welcome back everyone to this week’s blog of Uncharted Drakes Deception. I am so elated and delighted to continue this journey with all of you through the Uncharted series. I am hopeful that many of you out there are reading them and enjoying them. Maybe you are even finding them helpful, or maybe these blogs are enticing you just enough to make you want to go back and play through them just to experience the game again. Maybe you want to see for yourself both the positive and negative things about these games. As much as I love the overall gameplay and graphics of Uncharted, to me it has always been about the depth of the characters and story. Watching the characters grow in their relationships, personalities, and struggles is what makes these Uncharted games a lifetime commemoration. If a character in a series stays the same throughout all the games, the player will be filled with a sense of purposelessness. If Nathan Drake did not have a climatic ending in a Thief’s End, I would not be writing about these games.
I have not mentioned this before, but I am very picky and biased on the games I play and purchase. I do not buy every game on the market, I have specific tastes in games and therefore I don’t consider myself a “gamer.” For example, if someone were to come up to me and ask “Hey, how did you like playing the game Bloodborne?” I wouldn’t be able to give any feedback. In case anyone out there is wondering, the only games I have right now as I write this are the Uncharted series, the Last of Us, Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War (which I am playing through right now), Crash Bandicoot Insane Trilogy, Ratchet and Clank and NHL 17. I do plan on playing the Last of Us 2, Call of Duty WW2, and Days Gone when it comes out, but you get my point. Not a whole lot of games, but the best ones out there as far as I can tell, that’s just my opinion, it’s not fact. The reason I am writing this is because I have written a few blogs already all focusing on Uncharted, but I haven’t really talked much about myself, and I don’t want anyone out there getting the wrong impression thinking I’m a huge gamer. So, without further a due let us continue with the third installment of Uncharted Drakes Deception.
Nathan Drake and his friends embark on another adventure to pick up the trail of T.E. Lawrence, a.k.a Lawrence of Arabia, to find the lost city of Ubar buried in the middle of the Rub’ al Khali Desert. It is also known as Iram of the Pillars and The Atlantis of the Sands. Within this city is living water; water that can give one eternal life. We all know it’s not that simple either, because this water is cursed. When the player gets halfway through the game, you meet Salim. Salim gives the player more background to what happened to the lost city and its water supply. King Solomon cursed the Gin and buried them deep within the city, it’s these cursed spirits that cursed the water. It caused the inhabitants of the city to see hallucinations and through these hallucinations they all killed each other. The effect it had on a person was totally based on that persons struggles and fears. Unfortunately, the cities secrets were kept under guard by a 400-year-old Satanic cult headed by Marlow and Talbot (in present day) who sought the location of the city to use its hallucinogenic water to control people. Naughty Dog again wants us to focus on something and that is, that glorious riches have much deception. Nothing is as what it seems.
I would have to say that this game is darker in its theme. I enjoyed it because Naughty Dog created this game to be more spiritual and psychological for the player. This is the game where I think Naughty Dog started to get deeper with Drake and his friends and wanted to introduce to the player for the first time Drakes past. By introducing Drakes adolescent’s and lonely past, Naughty Dog is wanting you as the player to see that Drake has a dark history. Everything that we know about Drakes personality and what shaped him is because Naughty Dog showed us his youth. Naughty Dog then carries this over into a Thief’s End. By the time you play a Thief’s End, you should be able to draw a timeline of Nathan Drakes life. Combining Drakes complicated and dark past with Marlow and Talbot is a great twist because when Talbot drugs him, the things Nathan Drake fears the most come true, and what does Nathan Drake fear most? Abandonment. When he hallucinates, what does he see? Not Elena leaving him, but Sully dying. Nathan Drakes father abandoned him, and Victor Sullivan became a father figure to him. When Drake gets drugged by the water he sees Sully get shot and die. In fact, in all the times that Drake hallucinates in this game the hallucinations are all about Victor Sullivan. In one hallucination Sully is pointing a gun at Drake and Nate is forced to make a choice, shoot Sully the only father you ever had, or let Sully shoot you, just like your father betrayed you. Even when Nate gets held captive by Marlow, she tries to get into his head and cause him to question Victor Sullivan’s loyalty to him. Why not try and get him to doubt Elena’s loyalty or their troubled marriage? Because the biggest most painful scar that Nathan Drake has is not that his mother committed suicide (because he could always fall back on the fact that his mother was the most amazing treasure hunter and historian there was), but that his father abandoned him to an orphanage when he needed his father the most. Are we feeling emotional? Maybe doing some soul searching ourselves? Well that’s the point of this game my friends, to dig deep into Nathan Drakes life and slowly draw out the issues like you would draw poison from a wound.
What I have come to love the most about Drakes Deception is being able to play Nathan Drake as a teenager. We get a whole lot more background on Drake, Sully, and how they met. This is important because when we first meet them in Drakes Fortune, they both have such a close relationship and tons of stories to reminisce about. Drakes Deception was designed perfectly for this little history tour of both. They both met under negative circumstances, Drake is trying to steal Sir Francis Drakes ring from a Museum in Colombia, and Sully is working with Marlow to try and acquire the same artifact. Sully saw potential in Drake, negative potential at that, but nonetheless he helped Nate acquire the ring. On top of that, the first time that they meet each other is when Drake was trying to steal Victors wallet, which of course Sully knew Nate was going to do that and he wanted to see where Nate needed to improve. It is interesting to note that Marlow was a villain in Drakes life that he had previous history with, along with Rafe in a Theif’s End as well. This causes their encounters to be a little more intense in the climax of the game. When Marlow is getting pulled under by the quicksand Nathan tries to save her, and in a Theif’s End when Nate and Rafe are sword fighting not only is Drake trying to avoid a fight with Rafe, but Rafe is initiating the fight, based on his past experiences with Nate. I have to say that it is sad that Drake at such a young age is self-sufficient and confident in his survival; the reason being is that Nathan never had his parents around and survived, so he thought he was good on his own. Sully never tried to dig that deep into Nathans life and never tried to be his father either, just a good supportive friend. Sully and Nate were perfectly matched up and though and Nate would never admit it, he found a father figure he never had. I believe that Sully is the spine in Nate's life and Elena is his heart, both Elena and Sully represent the mother and father figures Nate never had, and the character design created for Elena and Sully was perfect for a character like Nathan Drake. One thing that Nathan Drake, in his pride, could never admit, is how much he depended on Sully’s support for his survival, because without Sully, the character we know as Nathan Drake would not exist.
I really enjoy where this game took the player in the story. From France to Syria, and Syria to Arabia all the locations to me were phenomenal and beautiful. Especially in the remastered versions of these 3 Uncharted games the graphics were sharper and clearer. I really enjoyed the rich forests in The Chateau, the time of day Naughty Dog had the player there, the way the sun rays would shine through the trees of the forest and even the trees, gravel, plants, and water all done so wonderfully. One thing I have noticed Naughty Dog do is that they are faithful to be realistic to the type of environments you would encounter in these areas. The forests in France are different than the forests in Borneo (Among Thieves), and the Caribbean (Drakes Fortune). Then traveling to Syria to sneak into the museum, the effects of being there in the middle of the night to sunrise the next day was a good effect because it makes the player feel like they went through it all with Drake all night long. From the stars in the sky, to the detail in the structure of the museum was nothing short of true realism. Finally, the rest of the game takes place in Arabia and in its Rub’ al Khali Desert. When Nathan and Sully first meet up with Elena at the airport you get a pretty good idea as to where you are at. Then there is the town you walk through along with the platforming across the buildings when your stalking Talbot. I cannot say enough about the details that Naughty puts into everything, they really made you feel like you were there, and that says a lot on their patience and skill in developing these levels.
One thing I haven’t really talked about that much is 3rd person shooters. If my memory serves me correctly, then the first 3rd person perspective games I ever played was Splinter Cell on the Xbox, Zelda Ocarina of Time on N64, and Lord of the Rings on Xbox. Whereas 007 Golden Eye and Star Wars on N64 were all from a first-person perspective. On Splinter Cell and Zelda, you fight and platform from a 3rd person perspective, but shoot from a 1st person perspective. In Zelda you would fight with your sword from 3rd person perspective and shoot Links sling from first person perspective, same thing with Lord of the Rings. Call of Duty does a great job with 1st person shooting, and I have always enjoyed their games, but Uncharted really got me to love 3rd person shooting. I remember the very first thing I loved about the Uncharted games was when you would go to aim your gun, you were looking over Nates shoulder, not being brought to a screen with just the crosshair in the center. I really enjoyed being able to see Nates reactions to the gun kicking in his hand and seeing the dirt and sweat on his face. This 3rd person kind of shooting really drew me into the action of the moment. For me, I don’t necessarily like it when I cannot see my characters body when I’m in a combat situation because I cannot see exactly the position of his body in relation to any cover I’m trying to utilize. In 1st person shooters (this is only opinion, not fact), the player cannot tell if they are behind cover correctly. For example, on a 1st person shooter you can be behind a wall for cover, but all you can see at that moment is the wall and you cannot tell if maybe your arm is sticking out which will allow the enemy to shoot you. On a 3rd person shooter you can get behind cover and rotate the camera around to not only see if you’re in good cover, but see where the enemies are at and where they are coming from. I know it sounds like I am favoring 3rd person shooters, but I am not, I remember my old PC game era of Day of Defeat and Counterstrike, I absolutely loved it and was good at it.
When it comes to the characters in Drakes Deception I have mixed feelings about them. I really enjoyed Charlie Cutter, he had a great character role and sense of humor. I loved the way he would respond when Drake is trying to plan a stalking mission, or the way Charlie would interject when Nate was trying to give a history lesson. In London when Nate is trying to plan on how to go about stalking Marlow and Talbot, Charlie interjects with, “These people aren’t messing around a bit, if you encounter them shoot first ask questions later.” Awkward silence. Or when they discover the old Victorian rail station in London Underground and Nate asks who these people are Charlie responds, “I don’t know, but they are seriously weird.” Charlie Cutter was somewhat like Tenzin, a great character for a brief time in Uncharted, though he is mentioned in a Thief’s End when Drake and Sam are arguing over the trustworthiness of Sully before sneaking into the auction in Italy. Charlie Cutter was a smart guy and well educated in his history; in Syria he was helpful to Nate in solving a lot of the riddles and puzzles. I adored his fear of closed spaces, those scenes were really funny. I felt bad for Charlie when Talbot drugged him, and I thought it was a great scenario when Charlie tried to fight Drake and almost choked him to death. Sully of course pulled out his .44 Magnum and was just going to shoot him until Chloe interjected and calmed things down. One of my favorite lines from Sully is what occurred right after, Charlie asks, “You weren’t really gonna shoot me were you?” Sully responds, “Like a rabid dog.” (LOL). I have always loved Sully’s protective attitude toward Drake, it didn’t matter who you were, you try and kill Nate and I’ll kill you.
Chloe Frazer is worth mentioning very briefly because her appearance in Drakes Deception lets you as the player know that Naughty Dog is: 1. Not done with her and 2. She is now a part of the team. Even in her second appearance you can see the changes in Chloe, she seems more mature and less flirtatious. Some can argue that she is not in a Thief’s End, but she is. When Drake is in his attic reminiscing on all his adventures, you get to pick up a post card Chloe sent him with a note on the back. I believe Naughty Dog wanted that little nugget of Chloe Frazer to be in there for a purpose, but that is just my speculation. I honestly wasn’t to impressed with Talbot or Marlow. I understand their characters and their role in the game, but just simply not my favorite villains just like Navarro in Drakes fortune. It could be that they were part of a Satanic cult, and Talbot not only used hallucinogenics, but tarot cards as well to control people, either way, not my favorites.
As with all the Uncharted games the first 3 chapters are tutorial. The reason being is that each game Naughty Dog releases they either changed some things, or try to improve some things. A lot of this has to do with the melee in the games, also some grenade throwing, but my focus here is melee. In Drakes Fortune they teach you the basics, just simply punching. In Among Thieves the punches are different as well as the body movement, but they incorporate the ability to counter and dodge punches. In Drakes Deception, the melee became different and I think in a good way. I really enjoyed the opening bar fight scent in this game. Naughty Dog in this game really incorporated the environment for the players melee combat. The player was able to use the environment around them to fight, like using glass bottles, pots, pans, and huge fish to hit the enemies with. If you were next to a table Nate would slam the guy’s head onto the table. They also incorporated that ability for that A.I. to grab you from behind while your being punched by another enemy. So, you had to keep elbowing the guy holding you and then you had the ability to lift yourself up and kick the guy in the head trying to punch you. Being surrounded by a bunch of guys and being able to evade, block, and counter their punches and kicks was awesome. Even though I really enjoyed the bar fight scene, and the opening fight when Drake is being held captive by a modern-day pirate (Rameses), I still feel like they are a little drawn out and go for a little too long. Naughty Dog in this game took it a step further with the melee by bringing in those huge prodigious guys.
My favorite encounter with them was the bar fight scene, I loved it when it was just one on one in the bathroom and Drake ends it with the toilet cover to the guys face. Naughty Dog did a good job with the physics of it too, how these big guys would move with the realism of their weight. They would punch slow and kick slow, giving the player a better chance at countering. Of course, the climax of these fights is awesome, Nate cups his hands together and hits them three times until it takes Nates whole body weight for the finishing punch. On Crushing and Brutal difficulty, though this gets tough, because during a combat situation when you got 15 guys shooting at you and then out comes the heavy charging you and you go hand to hand with him while the other guys shoot at you. Again, knowing where the spawns are is key, because if you know where he is going to come from you can use you Micro Uzi and end him quick, but when you get caught by surprise it stinks. Did you know that you can tell the frame of the game by the melee encounters? The game starts with a huge melee encounter, then when you reach the midpoint of the game (captive by Rameses), it’s another huge melee encounter and at the end of the game you’re in a huge melee fight with Talbot. The melee has always improved throughout the Uncharted games and I have always really enjoyed them.
My favorite chapters in this game are The Chateau, Abducted, Rough Sea’s, Crusin’ for a Brusin’, and the Settlement. The Chateau to me was a wonderful level. When I first played Drakes Deception it was The Chateau that opened my eyes to how much Naughty Dog improved the graphics. The trees were beautiful, the texture of the dirt on the ground, the plant life, the stream running through the forest, and the fallen leaves everywhere. As I mentioned above the sunlight coming through the trees was so realistic, just the way Naughty Dog took their time with this programming shows dedication. Then when you get to the Chateau, the design there was amazing, not to mention when you play it on the remastered versions the sharpness and clarity blow the mind away. Some may disagree with me on this and I guess it’s all a matter of opinion, but when I play a game like Uncharted I really take my time playing it. When I get to a beautiful level like The Chateau I like to look around at everything and enjoy the detail. I am someone that enjoys the making of a game or movie more than the actual game or movie itself. I love to take time and appreciate all the hard work that goes into something so beautiful like the Chateau. Touring the Chateau was great, walking around and enjoying Naughty Dogs attention to detail. How it was half destroyed, the moss and vines all over the building, and the design showing nature taking over the building. When you stop to look at it when Nate and Sully first get there, the designers did a masterful job showing you that it is an ancient building being overtaken by nature, but you were also able to see its “once upon a time” glorious Victorian beauty. Then, when you get inside The Chateau the detail in the kitchen, the pots and pans, the oven, the dishwasher, and the broken-up tile were great. Of course, the grand staircase, the sewing machine, and the popcorn machine were just a few of the details Naughty Dog included. Chateau me any day, I absolutely loved this chapter.
Abducted, Rough Sea’s and Crusin’ for a Brusin’ were my favorite chapters because of their mental fervidness. I would say that number one reason I like these chapters has to do with the ocean effects, the tanker junk yard Nate is in, the huge storm that hits, and the gigantic ship wreck Nate gets in on the Cruise ship. The number one effect that I liked about these chapters is how Naughty Dog made Nate seem so small. Not only are you swimming in the water trying to avoid a bunch of enemies but your surrounded by these gigantic tankers. To me it was just one of those scenarios in the game that made me feel small. Rough Sea’s was intense because you’re in the middle of a battle but you’re also fighting the physics of the huge storm. In this chapter you have to use an RPG to take out all the enemy boats surrounding you and on top of that, the boat that you’re on is going up and down like crazy making your aiming pretty hard. So many times, I would try to shoot an enemy boat and the rocket would either go over the boat or into the ocean. Also, there was a section on this part where not only did you have to take out enemy boats, but you had other enemies rushing you, so you had to utilize cover from RPG’s coming from enemy boats as well as take out those rushing you.
Rough Sea’s transitions into Crusin for a Brusin smoothly. At the end of Rough Sea’s Nate jumps onto Rameses Cruise ship and as your climbing up the side of the ship the chapter title appears. Crusin for a Brusin is somewhat of a platforming chapter mixed with a little stealth, a little battle with a heavy, and one huge battle in the Ball Room. If your prone to sea sickness I can understand why Naughty Dog has warnings before the game starts. As your moving through this chapter there is just a lot of rocking back and forth as Nate struggles to stay on his feet. Plus, if you pause and rotate the camera to look out into the ocean, seeing the huge waves coming toward the Cruiser can make one sick. I really enjoyed the part where Nate is trying to make it toward the second level of the Cruiser and he must climb onto the survival boat to make his way up, when all the sudden it detaches from the Cruiser and Nate is hanging on for dear life. Your hanging onto the boat and its swinging back and forth on nothing but a rope over a raging sea! Just another crazy Drake survival moment. There were 2 battles in this game that I dreaded getting to and one of them was in this chapter at the Ball Room fight. Obviously, there is no stealth approach to this part, I have tried multiple times, it is just a fight that you must face. The key of course in knowing where the enemy spawns, on any other difficulty other than Crushing or Brutal it doesn’t matter. Knowing the spawns is important on Crushing and Brutal difficulty. I loved the ending to this chapter even though I thought Drake was going to go one on one with Rameses. I mean they introduce this pirate to you who would seem like a minor boss fight, but Naughty Dog decided to just have him commit suicide by shooting the glass. It was a cool cinematic, but I was hoping to fight him a little. I hold the opinion that Rough Sea’s and Crusin’ for a Brusin’ could have been combined into one chapter. I just don’t feel that Rough Sea’s was long enough to be its own chapter, but that is just me, not fact.
There is of course one scene worth noting that I am sure many of you are just waiting for me to talk about and that is the Plane Crash in the chapter Stowaway. This was top notch for Naughty Dog. Up to this point in the Uncharted games none of Drakes crazy survival moments even compared to this. When I first played this game with my friend Joann and I got to this part of the game, I was sitting there yelling, “Are you kidding me right now?!” (Lol). The first part of this section was amazing, you’re fighting this huge guy and then when you finally knock him down Drake runs to the cargo netting to unloose the cargo parachute. That then drags everything out of the plane and Nate goes tumbling out of the plane, and your hanging onto the netting at 40,000 feet in the air. Of course, that is not enough for Naughty Dog, you then have to climb up the netting to get back into the plane while at the same time shoot enemies. Once your back in the plane a gun fight proceeds and while you shoot enemies the plane catches on fire, an explosion to the side of the plane causes everything else to get sucked out. Drake is holding onto a crate for dear life, then another explosion and tons of friction, by this time your screen is shaking. Nate then cannot hold on anymore, so he lets go and simultaneously the plane blows in half, and your pretty mush sky-diving at this point. While flying through the air you have to aim for this crate and grab onto it, once Nate grabs on your screen is spinning out of control and you got to mash triangle to get the chute open. Everything about this section is stupefying. Naughty Dogs programming into the physics and realism of this scene top a lot of games out there, a very epic scene for its time.
I really enjoyed the Settlement chapter because of its architecture. An abandon ancient settlement in the Rub al’ Kali Desert gave the player a great sense of adventure. The detail that Naughty Dog put into the cracked stone work, and the appearance of making everything look dried out was legit. The fights were enjoyable because of fighting in the sand. The effects of walking in the sand and when grenades would explode in the sand showed the attention to detail. Even the effects on Drake himself, you could see the sand get all over Drakes clothes and hair. This is also the chapter that introduces the player to riding horses. I think riding the horses was one of the highlights to this game because it is something we haven’t experienced in Uncharted and it added a whole new dynamic to the gameplay. For those of us who loved Indiana Jones, namely The Last Crusade, most likely loved riding the horses in Drakes Deception. For me at least that’s what it reminded me of.
There were of course just a few things that I didn’t like in Drakes Deception. Dislikes in games are always a matter of opinion, so if your reading these Uncharted blogs take everything I say with a grain of salt. I was not fond of the weapons in this game or the reticle (crosshair) that you aim with. For me, I think it had to do with: 1. The sound the weapons made. 2. I felt no power behind the weapons. 3. The enemy A.I. did not react when you shot them. On point number 3, the enemies would be running at you and as your shooting them they just keep coming at you making it hard for the player to tell if they are being damaged or not. In previous games you would shoot a guy and he would do a little dance showing he is hurt which would give you time to either escape to cover or finish him. I also did not like fighting those demon guys in phases when Nate is hallucinating in Atlantis of the Sands. It was tough on Crushing because not only did they die in two phases, but they could also disappear and reappear anywhere making these pretty taxing encounters. I hated it. Again, it’s all about going into these sections with the right weapons, the Magnum and the Grenade launcher are your best bet. There is one thing worth mentioning about the enemy A.I. that can seem kind of unfair. There were often bad mixtures of power between you and the A.I., for you as the player to have the upper hand against the enemy you have to be in a good position, but the A.I. can be positioned anywhere and deal you great damage. If you’re in an awkward position and try shoot, the cover is in your way, if your try to throw a grenade, you can’t see anything. The A.I. of course can be in your same position and throw a perfectly aimed grenade or somehow shoot you. Yes, a game should be challenging especially on Crushing or Brutal, but it should also be fair and realistic. One thing I have always long for in games that I wish programmers would incorporate, and that is the A.I. running out of bullets and grenades. In real life situations in gun fights you wait for the guy to run out of ammo or reload. The A.I. does reload but it’s like super-fast, you barley have time to blink and they are already shooting at you again.
I really enjoyed the boss fight in this game because it’s a good traditional hand to hand fight like you would get in movies. What made this fight so intense was that Drake was going up against a knife. I remember when I first played this game when Talbot pulled his knife out I was like, “Alright, let’s do this Talbot.” Just a great fight of blocking, evading, countering and then punching or tripping. I loved it when Talbot would get on top of Drake and try to push the knife down into Drakes chest and you must mash square to prevent it. This was just an all-around good fast paced fight with a light mixture of adrenaline. How many of us got done with this fight and our heart was pounding? I know mine was. At first, I wasn’t sure how it was going to end because it seemed like you were going to have two boss fights, one with Talbot and one with Marlow. In the end it made sense how they wanted to get rid of Marlow then have Drake face Talbot. Earlier in the game you had a similar hand to hand fight with Talbot in Chapter 11 (As above, So Below) so it makes sense that they would have an epic climax of some unfinished business between Drake and Talbot. Drakes Deception of course had a monumental ending with everything crumbling into nothingness with Nate having to jump from one structure to another until he was finally safe. I really enjoyed the ending cut scene because it gives the player hope for Elena and Nate which of course roles over into A Thief’s End. Thanks to Victor Sullivan, who was the one that interceded and got them back together again.
That is going to wrap up this blog for Drakes Deception my friends. Once again, I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read these blogs and to thank Indie Game Lover for allowing me to participate. I am really enjoying reminiscing about all the Uncharted games with you and look forward to a Thief’s End and The Lost Legacy. I will probably be doing a Thief’s End in 2 parts because there is a lot to discuss and it is the climax to Nathan Drake; until then take care and keep gaming.