written by Alvin So

I would say my feelings towards the Uncharted franchise is pretty similar to the relationship a husband has with his pregnant wife… You love her to death but having to wake up and go on pickles and ice cream runs at 2 in the morning can get frustrating quick. Uncharted 3 is an awesome game; it’s breathtakingly beautiful, the story telling is unparalleled and the character design is peerless. But after finishing the 10-12 hour campaign I am content but disappointed at the same time. Uncharted 3 could have been a perfect game… it was soooo close to being a solid 10 out of 10; but there are a few game play design issues that hold it back from being flawless.

Is that a lost artifact of Ubar in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

 

Let’s start off this review with the great things that Naughty Dog accomplished in Drake’s Deception; and there are a ton of things that they got right.

Let be honest, the Uncharted games are the closest thing we have currently to playing Indiana Jones and Naughty Dog does a fantastic job of infusing their game with a cinematic flare. If this was a movie, it would have been written and directed by Michael Bay. Some of the sequences in Uncharted 3 will leave your jaw on the floor, and it’ll stay there until you turn off your PS3. It’s impossible that Nathan is able to survive these encounters and there’s definitely a Looney Tunes quality to some of the stunts that he pulls, however that is part of the charm that Uncharted brings to the table. You have to throw common sense out the window, but you do the same for all the summer blockbusters every year and make no mistake Uncharted 3 is a summer blockbuster.

The story starts with Nathan and Sully in the middle of a shady exchange in a bar, cash money for Francis Drake’s ring. Thing quickly go sour and escalates to a dirty bar room brawl. The story never lets up from there and, similar to Uncharted 2, Nathan trots around the globe looking for the next piece to the puzzle that will lead him to the lost city of Ubar. Sprinkled in between the main story are some flash back sequences that develop the relationship between Sully and Nathan. It’s a great addition and explains the strong friendship that they have. The voice acting is once again top notch and sets the bar for all other video games in my book. It’s a tall order for any game to compete with the quality of the voice acting in this franchise and Uncharted 3 continues with that excellence.

Don’t move! Or I’ll blow your face clean off your face!

The game play of Uncharted 3 is broken down into 4 parts, hand to hand combat, gun fighting, climbing, and puzzles. Most of the latter 3 aspects are similar to previous Uncharted games, but Naughty Dog added some new, welcome features to the hand to hand combat. You can now use the environment to your advantage, slam heads against boxes and break bottles on people. There are some added animation that makes the combat look cool as well; like knocking your enemy’s gun in the air and grabbing it.  Grabbing is also refined a tad; if Nathan is grabbed you can still attack an enemy in front of you. You can also grab and throw people off ledges. The new moves make the hand to hand combat a little more fluid and is a nice addition.

I’ve always had a gripe with the gun fighting in Uncharted; both the previous games suffered from endless waves of enemies, and towards the end of Drake’s Fortune and Among Thieves it was getting a little ridiculous. How many god damn pirates/ mercenaries are there?  You can take over a first world country let alone a third world country with the number of bad guys that Nathan has killed. Uncharted 3 fixes it to some extent, but there are still issues with certain parts of the game that leave you frustrated and ready to throw your controller out the window on normal difficulty. Parts that have 3 or 4 snipers on the roof, 20 guys grenade spamming your little corner, all while a couple of armored machine gun turrets are pointed right at you. Makes you wonder how a foot thick brick wall can withstand all that. Uncharted 3 attempts to resolve this by having more checkpoints and for most of the game this works fine; but there are a few cases where the added checkpoints are not enough and I just wanted to tear my hair out. The really frustrating thing is that these elements aren’t necessary, the areas would be just as challenging with one sniper instead of 4 or 5. I feel like Naughty Dog just added them in to extend the game play to the industry standard 10-12 hours. That is the most disappointing thing about this game. Without the few areas of added frustration this game would have been perfect.

Overall, Uncharted 3 is a great game. It does a lot right and only a few things wrong and with a game, that is all you can really hope for. The story does leave room for a sequel, and I really do hope Naughty Dog explores at least one more adventure in the Nathan Drake universe.