I’ve finished Uncharted 3. A total of 10.5 hours actual play. It didn’t seem that long. It amounted to about 3 or 4 session of play. It felt substantially shorted than the the second game, though I suspect the magnitude of that isn’t as big as I think. A quick check shows a drop of four chapters, so the second game could be around 15% bigger. Lot’s of variables and human perception factors unaccounted for, of course.
But then that’s the main problem faced by Uncharted 3? Competition with its predecessor, which was a gaming Goliath of epic proportions.
I think that’s my main problem, compared to Uncharted 2 the game is found wanting a bit. It’s something elusive. All the elements are present in Uncharted 3 it’s just the ingredients haven’t been mixed as well. The set-pieces didn’t seem as strong. The story was certainly more subdued. It just felt more…mundane. That’s doing it a disservice as Uncharted 3 is still a masterful contribution to gaming envisioned through the lens of ridiculous Hollywood storytelling, but while the lightning in the bottle may have been caught twice, it certainly didn’t burn as brightly.
The narrative seemed mixed. The action certainly seemed toned down in its ‘set piece awesome’ but magnified in terms of the ‘enemy hordes’. There was also less inter-play between the characters. I missed the cross and double-cross of the various protagonists that was present in Uncharted 2. Initially, it seemed like they were going for a more intimate narrative but this didn’t really deliver either. The flashback at the beginning suggested a focus on the relationship between Nate and Sully, as did some of the scenes alluding to Nate not knowing when to quit. The trouble is, I got more of a feeling of depth between Nate and the various thieves in Uncharted 2 then I did between Nate and his supposed surrogate father figure. It just didn’t go anywhere or have any sort of significant conclusion.
The conclusion to the action was also a bit odd. We had a secret organisation. The leader of the ancient conspiracy was a past friend of Sully’s, but this didn’t seem to amount to much. Ultimately, we never even got to find out if the great gasket under the water in the hidden city actually had anything in it. Despite the fact the enemy in Uncharted 3 was a ‘eastern European mercenary and war criminal’ he seemed to have more narrative power by the time the final credits rolled. Of course, the final sequence was the hidden city collapsing in on itself as all discovered hidden cities are prone to do.
What the Uncharted series needs is some competition. I’m hoping this is going to come in the form of the re-booted Tomb Raid series. Uncharted may have given the Tomb Raider series the kick up the arse it needed this generation, hopefully it can return the favour.