6341915Cleaning up Borneo is easier with some friends.None
The occasional flaw doesn't prevent the combat from being immensely thrilling, and the excitement continues in the platforming sections. As in previous games, there are times when you must climb up walls, swing from pillars, and shimmy up trees, and these sections are linear. You can't jump unless there's a handhold to grab onto, and there's only one way out of your predicament. Thus, it's not as empowering as in games where you move with unrestricted freedom. Aside from the combat, every other element is structured to limit creativity, with the focus placed on the beautiful sights and unexpected pitfalls. You might think you're safe climbing a strong wooden ladder, only to see it deteriorate in your hands. And it's these moments that inject some excitement into your leaping. You never know what is going to hold your weight, so you move quickly and purposefully, hoping you can reach solid ground alive.
Puzzles also return from previous games with few changes. While Drake is wandering around ancient cities, he stumbles upon seemingly impassable barriers, but the solutions are hinted at in his handy journal. You may need to complete a mural by casting a shadow or light up certain sections of an enormous globe, and these aren't particularly difficult, but they are still a great diversion from the thrilling action sequences. And that's one of the most impressive aspects of Drake's Deception. The pace smoothly moves between action and puzzles, with entertaining cutscenes thrown in the mix. You never spend so long on one activity that you grow tired of performing the same tricks repeatedly. The chapters bleed into one another, so it's easy to lose a dozen or more hours before you realize just how long you've been playing. And once you wrap up the campaign, you'll want to go through one more time. Ramp up the difficulty, suss out the hidden treasures you missed the first time, and soak in the sights once more. This is a fantastic game that grabs your attention and never lets go.
Never turn your back to an empty well.
But if you do become lonely, there's a chaotic cooperative mode. There are three different options, but the best of these is Adventure. Here, you team up with one or two friends and take part in five reconstructed levels from the campaigns of Drake's Deception and Among Thieves. Puzzle and platforming sections have been removed, so the focus is placed entirely on combat. And it's incredible. Enemies are more susceptible to your fists than in the single-player campaign (two punches should finish them off), and it's a hoot to sprint around the battlefield cracking necks and punching groins until you fall to a barrage of gunfire. Just hope your friends resurrect you because you have a limited number of shared lives and the difficulty can get steep. There are sections where you can't rely on your fists to come out ahead, and these require you to carefully coordinate to stay alive. One friend may unleash suppressive fire with an assault rifle while you move in with a shotgun or just snap someone's neck when he's distracted, and there are so many ways to play that going through these levels multiple times is still fun.
The other two cooperative modes aren't quite as good, but they have their charms. Arena is a series of co-op challenges against an onslaught of enemies. You may have to reach a certain kill count or steal a treasure, and it's fun teaming up with some friends to take on the unrelenting horde. The other mode mixes competitive play with cooperative strategizing. Hunters is a two-versus-two assault where one team tries to steal treasures while the other tries to stop them. The defenders also have AI teammates, which makes it pretty tricky when you're trying to nab their goods. Although both of these modes are good fun, they get tiresome more quickly than Adventure. Things enter a predictable rhythm after a few rounds, and though the core mechanics are satisfying enough to overcome this, they have limited appeal.
Nothing says Adventure like shooting dudes with guns.
The real draw of the online offerings is the competitive mode. Uncharted 2 introduced multiplayer competition, and Drake's Deception builds on that strong blueprint. The versatility of the single-player combat is well realized here, so a wide variety of tactics can be employed to kill those who challenge you. Hand-to-hand fighting, long-range sniping, grenade tosses, shotgun blasts, and all of the other great maneuvers from the campaign are here, and the well-designed levels give you plenty of different options. One big difference is the speed. Playing online is much faster than offline, so hunkering behind cover isn't nearly as effective. The sprint button is far more useful, and you better use it frequently or you'll be run down by someone who knows what he's doing. Sprinting to a safe place, firing a few choice shots, and then moving on delivers a satisfying rhythm, and the fear that someone may be sneaking up behind you keeps you from becoming lax. Experience points give you money to buy new weapons and perks, which changes things as you sink more time into it. And if you want to start on the same page, a hardcore mode strips out those bonuses so skill, and skill alone, is what determines a winner.
All of these different modes and gameplay types look phenomenal, thanks to impressive technology and strong artistic design. A stirring soundtrack beautifully complements your journey, drifting between hard-edged riffs and delicate acoustics, depending on the situation. Everything that Drake's Deception attempts, it pulls off with flying colors. This is a beautiful, cohesive, and, most importantly, fun adventure that cements the Uncharted franchise as one of the best around. More of a good thing is welcome here. You'll laugh with joy, yelp with excitement, and, above all else, be thankful that you're playing something as expertly crafted as Drake's Deception.