Uncharted 3 and Being a Little Too Flashy for your Own Good
July 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
You have to be in the right mindset to enjoy Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
That sentance looks a bit weird written down doesn’t it? I mean the Uncharted series has always been the most mainstream of mainstream games. The kind you can quite easily use to sell consoles without worrying whether the masses will ‘get it’. It’s enjoyable in a very obvious way, punchy, satisfying, and beautiful to look at.
So I suppose it was me that was in the wrong mindset when I booted up Drake’s Deception for the first time. Two games contributed to this, Dark Souls and Skyrim. Both had a negative impact on my first few hours as Nathan Drake for different reasons.
It’s obvious why it would be a bad idea to go straight from a game as expansive as Skyrim to one as linear to Uncharted. I’m not trying to make the arguement that one style of game is intrinsically better than the other, but it’s jarring when your expectations are so out of step with what’s playing out on the screen in front of you.
Even ignoring the fact that Skyrim’s overall structure is completely non-linear, with any number of side-quests constantly tempting you off the main path, the missions themselves likewise never force you down one path. For the majority of my time with the game I played as a stealthy archer. I would spend as much time as possible sneaking through missions, picking off enemies at a distance, and only engage them in melee combat when my own actions left me with no other choice.
Naughty Dog take a completely different approach with Uncharted. You’re able to sneak by undetected for only as long as the game will allow it. When you’re meant to be discovered for the purposes of a huge gunfight, you better believe that’s going to happen. No matter how gingerly you try to edge past a group of enemies, if you’re meant to be fighting them, they’ll be sending hot lead your way in no time at all.
I’ll admit I spent less time with Dark Souls than I did Skyrim (I blame my lack of composure), but there was a great deal it did that I enjoyed. It’s been pointed out numerous times that when you die in Dark Souls you are under no illusion that it was the game’s fault. This is achieved through numerous means, not least the fact that the game never takes control away from you. It might infuriate you when an enemy sneaks up behind you, but when it comes down to it, there was nothing stopping you from preventing that.
Uncharted meanwhile is constantly at great pains to make sure you’re looking in exactly the right direction. Sometimes it’s purely aesthetic, serving to show you an amazingly constructed view of the level, and sometimes it serves to show you the path you should be taking. Both are certainly worthy causes, but the fact remains that for the most part I felt like I had the camera situation under control, and felt frustrated the moment my right-analogue stick was disabled.
The sum total of this is that I often felt like I was playing Uncharted 3 in someone elses house. Someone else who has owned the game for longer than I have and would constantly take the controller from me to show me something cool.
When the game’s intentions and my own were in sync it worked well, but these moments were few and far between. At other times I was dying alot; not because the game was particularly taxing, but because I wasn’t doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, in the short amount of time needed to make it look swanky. During the worst of these moments the game completely broke down, its usually keen sense of pacing ruined by a series of quick restarts as I tried to work out the exact script laid out before me.
This article has turned out very negatively so I feel I should clarify; I did ultimately enjoy my time with Drake’s Deception. There was a moment abount a quarter of my way into the game where I stopped caring about my lack of control and just let Naughty Doy lead me through their adventure by the nose. When I was able to do this I found myself experiencing one of the best blockbuster games out there. It reeks of production values, looks amazing, and has a sense of scale few other action games even try to come close to.
Sure there’s nothing that really matches the jaw-dropping set-piece of the train level from ‘Among Theives’, and I’m still struggling to name any gameplay changes that were made for this entry in the series, but the game as a whole chugs along nicely.
So final words? Fun but perhaps a tad bland. Like a summer blockbuster really, which may have been entirely the point.