Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Uncharted 3 Review

Gameplay (5.5/10): If you've played past Uncharted games or any 3rd-person shooters (TPS) that aren't Vanquish, you know what you're getting. Covering, shooting, and climbing. It's a formula that's really starting to show its age, especially when Naughty Dog doesn't seem willing to take any risks with it. However, even though the formula is tired, it still works. The reason U3's gameplay suffers behind U2's is because of frustration. In the first two Uncharted games, there were fire-fights that just felt unfair and required more than a little luck to get past; in U3, almost every fire-fight is like this. Death is a frequent occurence in U3; more-so than in the previous games. Luckily, there aren't as many fire-fights in U3; perhaps that is what makes them so frustrating, since they aren't very fun and are not something to look forward to. As far as platforming is concerned, it's the same basic stuff here, but the vistas aren't as impressive or complex as U2's platforming. The new melee combat is satisfactory, but nothing to praise, especially since the process doesn't happen much. The highlight of U3's gameplay comes from something new: chase scenes. These sequences are pretty fun and have a surprising lack of frustration despite there being no real indication of where you're supposed to run. Too bad there are only a few of these scenes. What probably hurt the most was the level design and execution; U3 really just felt like a mesh of ideas just randomly thrown together by the developers who just wanted to throw as many "cool" scenarios together as they could. That may work for a wild action game like Vanquish, but not in Uncharted, especially when the story takes itself so seriously. Overall, the gameplay is more of the same; no radical new ideas nor large variations, just the same old stuff that we've done to get through the story.

Graphics (7/10): U3 deserves credit where it is due, and U3 has a great graphic engine on stuff that matters. Cutscenes use great mo-cap for the characters, and big action occurs on-screen without causing any hiccups in the frame-rate, and load-times are basically non-existent. Art direction, while not as strong as U2, is still great, and the graphics do a great job of creating these areas and creating a sense of place. Where the graphics fall are in two areas: 1) there isn't nearly as much to appreciate graphically in U3 as there was in U2; there's just a lack of content there, and 2) the little things look pretty bad; for example, like the past Uncharted games, there are only 4 or 5 different types of enemies, all sharing the same animations and character models; and outside of cutscenes, animation aren't that great on anyone. Overall, the graphics are great where they need to be, but the little things need attention too.

Music/Sound (7.5/10): U3 probably has the best soundtrack in the series. While the music was more in the background in the first two games, in U3 it takes center stage right alongside the graphics, and what we are given is aesthetic and enriching. It's nothing too memorable or something one may listen to in their free time, but it's still well done within the game. Voice acting is as impressive as ever, though there seems to be considerably less this time around.

Story (4/10): U3 starts out pretty strong in the story department, but after the first 3 or 4 chapters, it's as if Naughty Dog just stopped trying. The historical aspect of the quest this time around seemed to fight the story of Drake himself for the spot-light, and after the dust settles, nobody wins. The story, like the level structure, just felt like a mesh of ideas just randomly put together all leading to a pretty unsatisfying and unoriginal ending. What disappoints the most is how scatterbrained the story is; it feels as if certain chapters were cut out of the game and thus causing the player to lose story content, but worst of all, the villain of U2, Marlowe, is absolutely terrible in her execution, mainly due to the fact that she's barely in the game at all and, as a result, doesn't really carve herself as a villain in any way. Overall, the story just felt like it was written in a day, with the exclusion of the historical aspect which obviously was the result of a lot of research. The story just tried to be character-driven and emotional, but it fell way short, which is rather surprising considering U2 pulled it off rather well.

Replay Value (6/10): The campaign isn't really something worth playing again in whole; rather, only certain areas are worth replaying simply for the thrill factor involved. Luckily, U3 has a fun multiplayer component, including both competitive and co-op modes which even allow for split-screen play. The multiplayer itself is fun, but the amount of content isn't that huge; though I'm sure it will expand with DLC.

Satisfaction (4/10): Uncharted 3 was not worth playing. The gameplay was nothing new other than chase scenes; the thrills were there, but they were mostly something to watch rather than something to play; and most of all, the story was just uninteresting. Uncharted 2 was an adventure worth taking because of the combination of good story, characters, settings, and pacing. The gameplay of the whole Uncharted series is nothing really to write home about, as it's pretty simple and not very compelling, especially after Vanquish blew the doors off of the TPS genre. Overall, U3 is a good game at its core, but its jumbled mess of a storyline and poor level execution mixed with frustrating combat and forgetful platforming makes it a game that is quickly forgettable on all fronts.


The score I should give it - (6/10): Uncharted 3 is a game composed of gameplay elements that are over a decade old, and the gameplay shows this; however, the quality that Naughty Dog has put into the presentation is very comendable, even if the story is unsatisfying and the level design lacks cohesiveness. Overall, a good game, but one that pales in comparison to its predecessor.

The score I want to give it - (4.5/10): There really isn't anything satisfying about Uncharted 3 except for one chapter early in the game, as it combines elements of story, gameplay, graphics, and animation very well. Unfortunately, this quality is lost quickly when the game seems to just be all about trying to "wow" the player. Too bad we've seen all the best moments in trailer already. In terms of gameplay, there are some gameplay styles that stand the test of time, such as the Zelda and Metroid formulas, but the TPS style of Uncharted just feels old, and, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere because of how grounded in reality the series' stories are. Vanquish set the bar very high for the TPS genre, and Uncharted 3 just looks sad next to it, even with its added element of platforming.

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