Uncharted 3 Isn’t As Amazing as You’ve Heard
(Note: The following pertains to the single-player. Multi is not up yet) I love “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception,” but contrary to what IGN is telling you, it doesn’t turn water into wine, cure cancer, or bring meaning to an otherwise cold and unfeeling universe. It’s a very good continuation of the “Uncharted 2″ formula, but it’s by far the smallest step forward in the franchise. For the first time in the series, a mild sense of “boy, I’ve jumped to a lot of yellow ledges in my day” sets in.
In no way is “Deception” a slouch; anything its brothers can do, it can do as well or better. The puzzles are the best of the entire franchise, the graphics are face-meltingly beautiful with vivid animation, the dialog snaps like “His Girl Friday” meets “Indiana Jones,” and the set pieces are appropriately jaw-dropping. But in between these peaks, U3 marks time with two things the franchise has never done more than adequately: gunfights and ledge-jumping. The former continues to go on forever and feel kinda slippery, and the latter is pretty much connect-the-dots. Now the game does a great job of giving you breaks from these two activities, but they still crop up just a bit too much. And remember: we’ve been doing them, exactly as they are here, for two whole games already.
Hit the jump while I discuss a few more issues to bring us back down to Earth, then lavish the game with the praise it deserves.
To its credit, “Uncharted 3″ tries to a new regular to the mix: fist-fighting. They’ve flirted with this before, but just like U2 opened with a stealth mission in an attempt to bring that mechanic into the fold, U3 starts us off with a barroom brawl. It’s not totally effective. Hit detection is fine, but the animation steps on its own toes and often jitters around trying to move characters into the right places for action cues. And the fighting is simple, taxing neither timing nor muscle memory particularly well. The result is little more than a glorified quick-time event.
Okay, but these quibbles aside, this is still one of the best action-adventure games on the market. Naughty Dog knows how to design an action set-piece that gets your heart racing and your eyeballs popping. Everyone loves to talk about how amazing the action in “Call of Duty” is, and that may be true, but Nathan Drake’s escapades match COD’s scale and toss in the messy, chaotic feel of real life. Our hero sweats, curses, yells in surprise, and bleeds from the mouth. God bless him for it.
And in case you missed it above, the graphics and sound are amazing. Team Ninja and Sony Santa Monica can suck Naughty Dog’s left testicle, because these guys can run circles around both graphically. And the nail in the coffin? Absurdly short load times. How do they do that? How? How does a game that looks this good boot you right back into the action after you die with almost no wait? It simply should not be possible.
Oh, and speaking of that, let me also take a moment to thank Naughty Dog for their extremely “it’s okay, champ” save policy. You can save whenever, but I never do, because the checkpoints always put me exactly where I’d like/deserve to be. And even better, the menu helpfully informs you at any time how long ago the most recent auto-save was. This kind of player-positive game design always wins big with me. I would really like Naughty Dog to pay Crytek a visit and explain the virtue of these things to them.
Please don’t misunderstand the title of this article: “Uncharted 3″ is a gorgeous, amazing experience every PS3 owner needs to have. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there’s a faint whiff of ennui finally settling in here, after three solid games of “stay the course.” I simply cannot go along with anyone who says U3 is on par with “Half Life 2.” That was a sequel that expanded the franchise in every way imaginable. This is a game that just holds the line.
what assurance do I have that your parenting isn’t screwing me up?