“Uncharted 3” had a lot to live up to. The series is hailed as one of the prime reasons to own a PlayStation 3, and the second entry in particular has received nearly universal critical praise. It’s unfortunate that the third game does not quite meet expectations.
By no means is “Uncharted 3” a bad game. The visuals, story and gameplay are well done and polished. They just never quite reach the same highs that the second game achieved.
Visually, the game is chock full of eye candy, as all “Uncharted” games are. The detailed environments that have made “Uncharted” a standout series return in full force. In particular, water effects are crisp and believable.
The voice acting and motion capture also lend to the believability of the game. The actors again deliver Hollywood quality performances. This, in addition to the exhilarating music, makes “Uncharted 3” an emotional experience.
However, this is also where “Uncharted 3” falters. Some characters are admittedly very well developed, while others don’t ever quite feel appreciated. This installment has some of the most interesting characters of the whole series, the villains in particular are extremely effective, but they don’t get the screen time they deserve.
Instead the plot revolves around main hero Nathan Drake, and his mentor and father figure Sully. While this is an interesting storyline, it comes at the cost of every single other character, ultimately leaving some questions answered, but even more left unexplained.
As the single player campaign winds to a close, the player is left with a plot that doesn’t feel quite like other “Uncharted” games. The near exclusion of supernatural elements is a major factor. While the game gives players a more grounded and human story, it does it at the expense of the signature “Uncharted” feel.
Gameplay wise, “Uncharted 3” takes a few steps forward, and a step or two back. Melee is the most improved part of the game. However, because both the cover feature and hand-to-hand combat are mapped to the circle button, often Drake will begin to fistfight when the intent was for him to take cover. This results in many deaths that feel unfair to the player.
The guns in the game look and feel better than ever, but aiming seems to have been slowed. Targeting an enemy takes far longer than it should. While it is not enough to break the game, it does become an annoyance and an odd step backwards for the series.
Of course, platforming has always been where “Uncharted” shines. This release is no exception. Leaping from edge to edge feels as tight as ever and these sequences are where “Uncharted 3” is undoubtedly the most fun.
Unfortunately, the fun times are interrupted when the camera suddenly shifts and the player must run toward it. It doesn’t happen often, maybe four or five times, but it can be very frustrating when it does happen. These cinematic angles are pretty to look at but can be confusing to play through.
While there definitely are some difficulty spikes throughout the campaign, it is never anything that should hold the player up too long. The puzzles scattered throughout are engaging, if not a bit easy. Coming in at around 11 hours, this is the shortest game in the series, yet still quite fun.
Despite its faults, “Uncharted 3” is still a stellar game and worthy of its place in the series. Many of the problems noted become mere nitpicking when compared to the overall experience of the game. This action-packed adventure is worth every penny, even if it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor.Contact Amanda Lafond.