Nathan Drake's next adventure is set to arrive before the holidays, and series devotees couldn't ask for a better present. However, it's likely that some fans are starting to worry about Naughty Dog's future intentions. Anyone who's followed the developer's noteworthy career knows that they've never worked on a property for longer than four games, and more often than not, that last game was a kart racer. Somehow I doubt that Naughty Dog will fasten Drake and company into the driver's seat for the final lap, and Golden Abyss for the Vita may very well mark Drake's last outing before retirement.
However, Uncharted has been a huge success for Sony, and its lasting impact on the PlayStation 3 may convince Naughty Dog to keep Drake returning to the console and handheld. Whatever Naughty Dog has in mind for the rugged hero, one thing remains certain: Uncharted 3 is going to be a blast. As you'll see below, we can count the reasons why on two hands.
1) The Multiplayer
We're counting on Uncharted 3's multiplayer mode to bring even more muscle power the second time around, but it's going to cram in more than a sturdy punch and gunplay. Players can cosmetically alter the looks of characters and weapons, and add on mods to the latter. Defeated opponents drop treasure to collect and redeem, and medals ought to be well worth the effort, yielding numerous one-shot bonuses. In addition, two new modes will keep gamers busy: Free for All and Three Team Deathmatch, which pits three teams of two against each another. Sounds good to us.
2) The Penny Arcade Poster
In an official capacity, Naughty Dog and Penny Arcade have teamed up to promote Uncharted 3 with a special PA-style poster. Fans can receive a copy come release day by either pre-ordering the standard edition or collector's edition at GameStop. Now this is an exclusive that's worth more than the paper it's printed on! Given Uncharted's blockbuster popularity and attempted convergence with film, the poster invokes a sense of nostalgia rooted in Hollywood past, when big name movies like Indiana Jones were advertised with gorgeous, hand-painted illustrations.
3) More Sully
Who doesn't love Sully? According to Naughty Dog, Uncharted 3 will focus on Drake and the old-timer Victor Sullivan, everyone's favorite "dirty old man." Their friendship will be more thoroughly explored in the third game, and considering how profound story has always been in the series, we're betting it'll be tested more ruthlessly than before.
4) More Nolan North
I'm not going to lie. I adore Nolan North as a voice-actor. He's nailed the tone of Deadpool and Prince of Persia, and that would be good enough for me except that he's Nathan Drake, too. And Nathan Drake kicks ass. Naughty Dog has always created lovable characters that stick in my memory and refuse to be forgotten, and Drake is no filler act. He's serious when lives are on the line, funny when the going's getting a little too tough, and you'll never hear him complain about having to save his friends.
5) The Awesome Collector's Edition
In a video, Nolan North "unboxed" the collector's edition of Drake's Deception. The contents include a Sideshow Collectible's Drake statue, his horseshoe belt buckle from the new game (he wears a different one each time), and Sir Francis Drake's famous ring, and it'll cost you $100. Not too shabby for diehard fans.
6) The Desert
Eventually, all fortune-hunters find themselves wandering the desert alone. Okay, we made that up just there, but surviving the desert's blazing heat and below zero nights is the ultimate test of skills and a rite of passage for true heroes. Drake will have plenty of time to reflect on his life and inevitable current predicament while scouring the Arabian Peninsula for the Atlantis of the Sands, and we can't wait to be privy to his revelations. Not to mention the open desert should be an immense graphical force to behold.
7) Improved Environments
Speaking of sand and lots of it, the environments in Uncharted 3 are said to be more akin to its real life counterpart. Sand will play a very physical role, perhaps caving in at rapid speeds. Water will flow more believably, the lighting will achieve more realism, and a hanging chandelier will crash thunderously on the floor below. Uncharted has always looked good before, so watching Naughty Dog's new world come to life should be a fascinating spectacle.
8) New Animations and Combat
Whereas Uncharted 2 introduced a more flexible system of combat, allowing Drake to pull out his gun no matter what he was busy doing, Drake's Deception gives the star hero new moves as a situational actor. Whatever the context, he'll react to the threats surrounding him even more believably than before. These subtle details translate into combat, as well. Drake can fend off multiple enemies at once with different actions—so, for example, he might kick one bad guy and wriggle free of another's grasp. He'll also be able to use his environment to his advantage, picking up whatever object might be lying around (such as a broken bottle) and using it as a weapon.
9) The Female Leads
Between Elena and Chloe, Drake has his fair share of ladies hanging on his arm. The ending to Uncharted 2 hinted that his future could be with the quirky blonde, who's followed him around since the first game, but who knows if they'll put death and danger aside long enough to settle down. Now a third woman is entering Nathan's life, but she isn't interested in romance. Katherine Marlowe is the series' first villainess, leader of a secret society and Drake's main competition for the ancestral ring. It'll take more than sweet talk to charm her.
10) The Adventure
Forget everything else. The adventure is what we're really after, and it's a packaged deal. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is sure to come loaded with cliffhanger moments, dizzying heights, brutal brawls, sweeping cinematic moments—and if Uncharted 2 was any indication of how Naughty Dog likes to do things, players will be in the front seat the whole time. We can't wait. What are you most excited for?