I survey the cash, quick to tell Sully and the suit-with-the-accent that it’s all fake. The deal is a bust, but some people just cannot let go. The next few minutes are a flurry of punches, head-butts, and witty quips. But soon it starts to feel less like “I” and more like “Nate”. I stand to the side, awkwardly, with my controller in hand.
The Uncharted series is known for its beautiful environments and cinematic gameplay, but its detractors might say it is also known for extreme linearity. A linear game in itself is not the problem. In fact, there are plenty of amazing games, story wise, that are at least mildly linear. There is no second option when you are given the task of defeating Ganon, you cannot not save Princess Peach from Bowser, and no matter what you do someone in Stillwater is going to die. Linearity is the foundations at which storied videogames are built, regardless of sandbox like quality.
Linear gameplay is not the problem with Uncharted 3; its problem is its much herald cinematic qualities. Some people could argue that they play video games for the “experience”, but my question is: What is Uncharted bringing to the table that makes so deserving of its "GOTY" hype and 90+ scores? Because as it stands Uncharted 3 is a high budget version of those interactive story games that come in the special features of Disney movies.
As Nate’s vision turns black and white in the middle of a gun fight, and he prepares to slip off the mortal coil, I do not feel particularly bad. I am not even frustrated. I am hardly invested in Drake at this point, he reeks of standard Hollywood action star, full of quick comebacks and down-played handsomeness. The story is just as shallow as its main character, ripped straight from decade old adventure serials, the kind printed in the back of comicbooks. Add this to the fact that the gun fights are notoriously unfair: Enemies soak up bullets and sometimes the aiming system decides I did not explain myself well enough and that perhaps a bullet to the face would clear up this misunderstanding. I'd like to think that if I snuck up behind a man and then shot him in the head, that maybe, possibly, he'd at least be a bit put out.
Within the confines of chases, climbs, and brawls the game plays without a hitch and is stunningly vivid, but at any point the player enters a scenario that isn’t perfectly guided, i.e. a gun fight, things start to get annoying. Which brings me to my point: Why am I here, Uncharted? You obviously don’t need me. Did mom make you bring me along? No, yeah, I’m fine with sitting in the corner and pretending I don’t know you.
Wow, Nate, that looks like a lot of fun. Mind if I-no, oh, well, that's alright too.
The general accepted qualities of a game are that it takes skill to complete and that the player feels as though they have achieved something. The only difficultly the player experiences in Uncharted 3 is the need to gain sudden clairvoyance as to discern where the developers want you to jump in their chases. The game is known to start cutscenes in the middle of a fight if you take to long or start sucking too hard. And achievement? Anyone familiar with adventure stories knows Nate is going to triumph in a heroic, yet bittersweet, victory. And at any point I start to feel the inkling of pride during a chase, I am reminded that there is only achievement because I am human, not a seer. In the Uncharted universe, anytime Nate dies it is because I was incompetent, and anytime anything awesome happens, it is because someone wrote it that way. Once again: Uncharted 3, why am I here? Clearly, I am only ruining your perfect world.
At the end of the day, if you enjoyed your time “playing” Uncharted 3, good on you, but it is a game that lacks the ability to truly make its players truly a part of the experience, reducing them to mere spectators, and piggybacks instead off impressive enviornments and a mediocre, uninspired story. While Uncharted 3 is worth 20 bucks on a lazy afternoon, it does not deserve the hype it's been given and it's 60$ price tag.
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