Probably the biggest and coolest additions, however, are the timed action sequences that take place before the “real” action begins on certain maps. These take the shape of things like two speeding subway trains for players to fight across, or a fleet of trucks following closely behind a taxiing cargo plane. Whichever team does the best in these sequences starts the round with a bonus, giving them an early edge.
There’s more to Uncharted’s multiplayer than competition, of course, and the three-player co-op mode returns as well. Focusing almost entirely on shooting and simple objectives with little climbing and no puzzle-solving, it’s not quite as much fun as a co-op feature in the single-player campaign might have been. It’s still pretty great in its own right, though, and Uncharted 3’s co-op takes things a step further by giving the mode a consistent (if goofy and non-canon) storyline that Uncharted fans will love.
Add to that Co-op Arena, which ditches the story in favor of timed objectives (i.e. fight while staying inside a glowing green area, or carry heavy idols to a chest), and there’s enough here to keep even competition-phobic players busy for a long time.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves? Yes from a purely technical standpoint – Uncharted 3 is more visually dazzling, brings more to its multiplayer modes, and of course adds impressive 3D support. However, if we’re just comparing each game’s campaign, Uncharted 2’s felt more ambitious, more involving and more emotionally charged – all qualities that helped it earn the 10 we gave it. Uncharted 3’s story, while still great, never quite hits those same highs.
Batman: Arkham City? No. It might be a little unfair to compare a linear adventure like Uncharted 3 to a gargantuan open-world epic like Arkham City, but there are a few key similarities between the two, most notably the climbing and fistfights – both of which, thanks to a grappling hook and a beautifully timed sense of flow, Arkham does better. Also, ignoring its open-world aspects, Arkham City rivals Uncharted 3 for visual flair and environmental variety, and its storyline delivers some of the urgency and emotional punch that Uncharted 3’s doesn’t.
Gears of War 3? Yes, if we’re comparing campaigns again – playing as Drake, scaling ornately detailed ruins and solving huge environmental puzzles has it all over Gears 3’s slightly lackluster narrative, giant monsters, chainsaw bayonets and four-player co-op be damned. However, where Gears 3 nearly reinvented its series’ multiplayer, Uncharted 3 seems content to add timed set-pieces and a ton of new whistles and bells to the already impressive offerings from UC2, without changing too much about them. It’s still great, to be sure, but it’s not Beast Mode or Horde 2.0 great.
While it never quite reaches the highs of Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3’s slick, relentless action, beautiful visuals and beefed-up multiplayer ensure that it stands well enough on its own.