By billygoat117 25 Comments
Uncharted 3 was one of my most anticipated titles this year. I fell in love with the characters (especially Elena) back in the first game, and have wanted to see the conclusion to their story ever since. So when I popped the disc in last week, I was expecting a wonderful adventure, full of exotic locales, hair-raising action set-pieces, and loving characterization.
What I didn't expect was to hate almost every second of the game's combat.
Looking back, I can honestly say that there were only two or three scenarios, at most, that I didn't absolutely loathe. Now, Uncharted has never been a series known for its tight combat controls or excellent combat encounters. The bad guys in the first game could take inhuman amounts of bullets while wearing no armor and we all remember the blue guys from the second game. But at least the enemy encounters were set up in such a way that they were manageable. You hardly ever got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of enemies and you usually had plenty of cover (although the dash through the village in U2 while dodging tank fire was kind of broken). In this game, though every encounter feels that cheap. Guys take multiple point-blank shotgun rounds TO THE FACE, you get rushed by multiple dudes in heavy armor with shotguns of their own, and to top it all off, your controls aren't precise enough to track guys as they move or keep a good bead on them.
This would be (somewhat) forgivable if it only happened a few times throughout the game. For example, I beat Warhammer 40K: Space Marine last week. That game is pretty good, but holy shit I wanted to break something after the last boss battle. It was the worst kind of cheap bullshit. Now, that said, it didn't really sully my overall experience with the game, although it did leave things on a sour note. But I'm not going to score a game lower (14 chicken hearts) just because it has one really poorly done battle. But when almost every single combat encounter feels that way, it's going to affect your opinion of a game.
I've heard from a few places that Naughty Dog never played through the entire game until just prior to certification; that blows my mind. I understand that you're busy, but come on. Some of the combat scenarios are straight-up broken. I died over 70 times while playing Uncharted 3; that's more than I died while playing Gears 3 by a large margin, and I was playing Gears on Hardcore and Uncharted on Normal. There's something wrong with that. Now, I understand that Naughty Dog is also in the process of developing a patch that will (hopefully) address a lot of these issues. To be honest, a large part of my complaint is with the controls. The game doesn't control anywhere near as precisely as Gears of War or other games of its ilk, but the combat is designed as if it does. I think a developer should know its strong suits. I'm convinced that combat isn't one of Naughty Dog's.
Now, all that said, I still enjoyed my time with the game quite a bit, and it will probably rank in my top ten, but I was left with such a bad taste in my mouth that I can't comfortably put it in my top 5. Uncharted 3 has you spend the least amount of time doing actual exploring and puzzle solving of the three games, and I think that's a mistake. A lot of the series' charm comes from Nate's wisecracks as he's trying to navigate some crazy environment or solve some ridiculous puzzle. That happens a mere handful of times here and is often interrupted (rudely) by a bunch of assholes with guns. The characters are just as charming as ever and I think I might actually be in love with Elena now, so I guess the game was a success. It just wasn't the unqualified success that I so badly wanted it to be.