Uncharted 3 – finished

I’m feeling a bit melancholy today. You see, last night I finished Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. That means I’ve got two years to wait for Uncharted 4 (assuming such a title exists, or will exist). UC3 will probably wind up being my personal “Game of the Year,” unless Skyrim *really* surprises me.

So, some final thoughts.

Without booting up Uncharted 2 for comparison, I actually feel like UC3’s gameplay mechanics were actually a bit jankier this time out. Part of that comes from the richness of the animation; it can make small movements more challenging than they should be. You know the drill: you have to climb a ladder but every time you move the analog stick you walk past it since the smallest step Drake will take is a bit too far.

This was’t as big a deal as it might have been for a few reasons. First is that Drake generally saves himself. If you nudge the controller and walk off a ledge, he’ll grab on. You have to actually jump off a ledge to fall. And even if you do that, UC3 is filled with invisible checkpoints and respawns are super fast so you can just try again.

Also, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for me. I love how cool Drake looks when he’s running through narrow passageways, bouncing off walls and stuff.

Honestly I play Uncharted for the narrative and the spectacle, not for precise controls or state-of-the-art shooter technology. Enemies are still bullet sponges (unless you go for the head shots) but ammo is plentiful. Some of the fancy stuff (eg grabbing a live grenade and throwing it back at the enemies) doesn’t always work that well. Drake was constantly hitting a wall with those live grenades and blowing himself up. I quickly learned that it was better just to dive for cover.

I really wish I’d never watched any of the preview coverage of the game, since a few of the best ‘set piece’ moments were totally spoiled by those. [SPOILER already spoiled by preview trailers] As soon as I got on to that big cruise ship I knew I was going to end up in the hold with the ship sinking, for instance.[/SPOILER]

That said, the sense of chaos and bat-shit craziness is amazing. Naughty Dog loves putting you on moving terrain. That’s all I’ll say about that. My jaw was hanging open an awful lot.

I generally play games on Easy these days, but I played Uncharted 3 on Normal and it was still really easy. That’s not a complaint, just an observation. I was glad I didn’t get too hung up since, again, I was playing for the narrative and wanted to keep things moving along. Frustration, for me, can ruin the pacing so easily.

I love these characters and I find that to be a particularly rare feeling in games. I know a lot of folks who love the characters in Mass Effect and Dragon Age but none of those ever resonated with me like Drake, Sully and Elena do. They’re like family! Chloe is back too, and she’s brought a friend.

One really curious choice is that Naughty Dog jumped ahead a few years (at least) between UC2 and UC3 and, well, stuff happened. Stuff that is referred to somewhat obliquely and never expanded upon. I want to know more! In a perfect world we’d get some awesome single player DLC mini-episodes that bridge the gap between UC2 and UC3.

I just adore this series. If I hadn’t already pre-ordered a Playstation Vita, I’d be pre-ordering one today just so I could play the Uncharted game it’s getting. When I finished my first play-through of UC3 last night, I sat through all the credits and then jumped into watching the featurettes included on the disk. Then my cursor hovered over the “Another round” campaign option.

But no, I need to clear my plate for Skyrim this Friday.

Please Naughty Dog: Put my fears to rest and announced Uncharted 4 already. I’ll carve out time in my 2013 fall schedule for you!