We’ve been in love with Nathan Drake, the human game hero introduced by Naughty Dog in the Uncharted series, for a long time. After two years, the series’ third chapter has arrived, but was it worth the wait?
I’d like to stop you from exploding at the sight of the character on the right. Uncharted 3 is brilliant. But Naughty Dog is lying. The game is marketed as a cinematic experience, and I agree. We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been to places most people only dream about, from Borneo’s deep rainforests to the Himalayas’ roof of the world. We’ve fought war criminals, evil Brits, mysterious femme fatales, and a nameless army of mercenaries. But not this time.
A black Jaguar accelerates away from the dimly lit side street, squeaking tires. Two gunshots hollow and crackle the silence lingering over London’s streets. Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, in black suits and dead bodies, lie among bent trash cans and a leisurely pile of local pub rubbish. The dark red bloodstain spreads like a day-old red wine stain across the chest and abdomen.
This is the third chapter of the Uncharted series, which has combined the Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones movies into a glorious reinterpretation since 2007. An interpretation where the story always wins over the adventure. So, dear reader, if you had any inkling that the third chapter of the series would break with tradition, you are making a grave error. The third game in the series is still a great story, with Naughty Dog’s game design skills and experience combining in a previous series and developer highlight. Is it? The series has new high points, but old ghosts and new mistakes lurk in the hooks.
In Uncharted 3, Drake and Sullivan are on the trail of Sir Francis Drake, who wrote about a fabled city in the middle of the desert while touring the land of Queen Elizabeth. A desert Atlantis and untold wealth. Drake must traverse fire, water, sand, and other elements to reach this city. It’s difficult or impossible to talk about the story due to mouth curves and restrictions, but also because it would ruin the game for others. Instead, I’d like to express my views on the game’s story and gameplay, which are like identical twins.
Given the game’s structure and expression, it’s not unreasonable to expect the story to be confined to the closet. The Uncharted series has been a modern storytelling force. Sadly, Uncharted 3’s plot does not live up to its predecessors. Characters with interrelationships we are not allowed to know about or who are kept secret for the next game in the series, instead of a sharp and rigorously structured story with a clear goal and well-rounded characters.
It would have worked as a weekly TV episode. But it doesn’t work in a regular game. My mind is full of questions. Why can’t I know what Elena and Drake did since the last game? Why is the villain evil, and what motivates her? The storytelling isn’t quite up to par.
For example, Drake’s walk through the desert should make you feel hopeless, but instead it makes you bored because it adds nothing to the story. One feels like a spectator, not a player. It’s a shame when we know what else Naughty Dog can do.
Quality is present in this game, as it was in previous games. When Drake writhes a huge ship’s cemetery through the water, you can almost smell the seawater. You can easily imagine the fantastic artwork that has been realized and gone from the drawing board to the 3D engine. From escaping from a crumbling French chateau to chasing villains through Yemen’s busy business streets, the game’s tracks are a beautiful and high-tension chain of really good and intense experiences.
Naughty Dog has given the game a much-needed boost. To tie it all together, the developers simply find an extra gear in the engine. These are the memories that stick with you the most, and you can see why. Destruction in the desert, horseback chases through valleys, and a sinking and stolen ferry are among the plot’s highlights. This is how you could go on, and you should be commended for putting the game’s action and tension curve into a larger framework. Amazingly beautiful, it almost takes one’s breath away.
It’s a great way to break up long shooting and riddle sequences. The game has been enhanced with new weapons, enemies, and features, such as the ability to throw grenades back at the enemy’s head. In addition, the game’s transitions between shooting and exploration are fairly basic, and without the above sequences, one would be bored by the end.