Uncharted 3 is a masterpiece. Consider the elements of a game: fidelity, story, and gameplay. They measure a game’s value and place in our culture. For a game to be truly masterful, it must hit on these elements and push gaming forward. While there are issues, Naughty Dog has created a beautiful blend of these elements and integrated them into what may be the best game of this console generation.
At the start I had concerns. Immediately it was clear that Uncharted 3 would focus more on story than platforming or gun combat, which made the first two entries so enjoyable for me. I can imagine the meeting the team at Naughty Dog had while crafting the core game. I can envision a white board where they listed the strengths and weaknesses of the series and then compared the series to its contemporaries. Without doubt, the one area this series shines is story. Within that is acting and the very human characters they’ve created. So they put their eggs in that basket and then wove the gameplay into it. The outcome is a game where you do spend a lot of time watching cut-scenes but ultimately it enhances your connection to the characters, specifically the relationship between Nate and Sully. Unlike its predecessors, Uncharted 3’s combat sequences and platforming sometimes feel like a chore just to get to the next cut-scene. Again, this is a problem if you aren’t enjoying the story and are looking for strictly an action game. Where Uncharted 3 redefines gaming is by bringing you equally proportional story telling, adventuring, problem solving, and combat. By the way, the puzzles are way simple when compared to Uncharted 2.
Graphically and audibly Uncharted 3 is solid. The frame rate never dips and the attention to detail is jaw dropping at times. The environments are varied - you will see parts of Yemen, beautiful scenery in Syria, and elsewhere. This time around you will experience a new story that is more believable and quite emotional. I had moments where I yelled, complained, and almost dropped a tear. This game is so much better if you are familiar with the characters. IGN has a 5 minute overview of the first 2 installments. If you have doubts about your familiarity with the cast, do yourself a favor and watch the overview prior to playing Uncharted 3.
Even for a masterful game, problems exist. Uncharted 3 is not perfect but the problems are not too big to take even a tenth of a point from my score. The foremost issue is the aiming system. Naughty Dog has gone on record to defend their design decision which drastically alters how the reticle moves with your analog stick and how bullets come out of any gun barrel. The result is a difficult aiming system that is frustrating and sometimes the reason I would die repeatedly. Although I was able to get all the headshot-related trophies my first time through the game, it took a considerable amount of focus. The multiplayer module does not have this design choice enabled so you’ll be fine there. I put several hours into it and I’m quite pleased. I don’t think it was necessary to create but its not a waste of time to play. The co-op on the other hand is outstanding. I appreciate that only one trophy is related to it making it easier to platinum the game. Speaking of trophies, this time around treasures are easier to find. Since the world isn’t as big, treasures are hidden in fairly obvious places. I was able to grab over 60 on my first run and I wasn’t going out of my way.
What makes Uncharted 3 a perfect 10, is its integration of story telling with gameplay and solid production values. Not many games can elicit emotion from its players. And none can do it as extreme or as often as Uncharted 3. If gaming is to be taken seriously as an entertainment medium and a haven for true artistry, more games like this must be released. I do wish gun-play were a bigger focus, but I can always go back to Uncharted 2 to get my fix.