Uncharted 3 Review
There are certain games that I'm sure to buy every time a new installment comes out. I'll always pick up the new Gears of War or Call of Duty, Witcher or Assassin's Creed. Uncharted is on that list. I'll overlook whatever faults the games may have for a few reasons: I like the big, goofy adventure plotlines, the well drawn characters, and the big action set pieces. Uncharted 3 delivers these in spades. Whether you're in a cruise ship graveyard, battling to stay behind cover as that cover rolls back and forth across the deck, taking on a convoy of trucks on horseback, or racing through a burning chateau or a bustling city, the game gives you the sense of being in a big budget action movie. The multiplayer is strong and inventive and the linearity isn't a problem because the characters are fun to follow around, the dialogue is giddy and entertaining, and there's a certain level of investment that fans of Uncharted 2 will bring to the situation, regardless of any glaring flaws.
And yet, why am I still spending most of my time shooting people from behind cover? For a series that is so character driven, I'll never get over its insistence on fighting it out with guns. I'll allow it in games like Gears and COD because that's the whole point. The shooting there has been enhanced to such a level that the fact that it's the core of the game isn't the issue. Uncharted has never really worked on its abundant shooting and so, when the game goes from exploration and puzzle solving to cover based gunplay, I feel like I'm playing a game from three or four years ago. It seems like even the developers have ceased giving a shit. These interminable shootouts grow stale quickly, and I often feel like I'm fighting the same four enemies over and over again just to get to the next climbing section. Hand to hand is solid. It's gotten a lot of flack for essentially being a series of quicktime events, but I find it to be a lot more fluid than that. In fact, an expansion on the fistfighting might help the game from feeling stalled and broken. An everyman like Nathan Drake makes sense as a guy who can punch his way out of a situation. He feels awkward as a man who shoots hundreds or thousands of people without a second thought. Stealth sections bring this problem into focus. This isn't a game designed for stealth, and so the vast majority of encounters will end in a shootout regardless. And so, once again, you're killing a seemingly infinite number of respawning villains rather than thinking your way through the situation.
Otherwise, it's the same game, for good and bad. I like the series. I'll continue to buy the games. However, this is nowhere near perfect. I'd like to see the sort of advancement that was given to the set pieces, characters, and exploration brought to the real meat of the game: the shooting. Until then, I'm always going to spend more time than I'd like annoyed.