(CBS) - The Uncharted series is one of the PS3's best selling exclusive franchises - and for good reason.
It revitalized the archaeology-driven action-platforming genre that Tomb Raider so famously started. For the uninitiated, it's Indiana Jones as you always wished he would appear in video games. It trades Tomb Raider's cartwheels and ridiculous plots for a cover system and character driven narrative.
Much of what makes Uncharted 3 so engrossing are its amazing voice acting and life-like animations. Characters seem convincingly real as they banter with one another, make silly sarcastic puns and generally feel more like human beings than genre archetypes. As grand and sweeping as the main tale is, it does far less to grab the player's attention than the characters themselves. They feel real to the player, so in turn, their plight feels real.
Not only do the cut scenes do much to envelope you in the camaraderie of our protagonists, the in game animations do much to show Nathan Drake's humanity. Whether it's a stumble here or a missed ledge grab there or simply reaching out to brace himself on a wall as he rounds a corner in a hurry, these little animations bring Drake to life. Like Dr. Jones, he feels more like a clever yet vulnerable human being who scrapes by on ingenuity and sheer luck rather than some super hero who will predictably save the day.
These animations are great, though the occasional hiccup will occur. Drake may sometimes repeatedly reach for a wall that is too far away, awkwardly walk in a direction he isn't facing or suddenly change his movement speed (especially frustrating during pressure tile puzzles). Mr. Drake will sometimes seem as though he has only just learned to walk. These occasions are few and far between, however and don't detract from the overall experience.
The gameplay itself doesn't do much to expand upon the formula already set by the series. Whereas Uncharted 2: Among Thieves took great steps to freshen up the gameplay, Deception makes only minor, though much appreciated changes to combat and movement.
There's a larger emphasis on fisticuffs - replete with grabs, counters and environmental takedowns - making it a viable combat option this time around. The gunplay and platforming work much as they did in Among Thieves - which is to say incredibly well.
The game really takes some cinematic strides forward for video games. Drake's Deception dives into the history between Nate and Sully, showing sides of the characters previously unexplored. The story itself never takes any predictable or outlandish turns and in fact maintains a very intimate feeling from its beginning, especially for a series known for its large action set pieces.
Uncharted 3 is a great addition to the series. It adds to the already great mythology, expands the depth of character development and never feels stale or phoned in. It's amazing presentation and thrilling experience solidifies it as a premiere PS3 exclusive that should not be missed.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is available now exclusively for PlayStation 3. It is rated T for Teen by the ESRB.