Here’s a loaded question that’s bound to piss off all of the 20 people who read this; is Uncharted a game for gamers? There’s been a lot of controversy I have little interest in revisiting here about Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, it’s merits, its failures and what sort of Metacritic average it deserves. Most of the commentary casually glosses over a point that I take a whole lot of issue with though. That is that Uncharted as a series tries to be some sort of cinematic homage taking influence from everyone from George Lucas to Michael Bay. Know what I think? Games have absolutely no business being movies.
Now as someone who played and loved at least the first 2 Metal Gear Solids maybe I should reign that in a bit. What we have here is a title that does everything to hit the notes of action cinema. There are big set pieces, formulaic writing and that would be all well and good if… it was actually any good. For my 2c the story is abominable, both in structure and sensitivity. It’s also pretty darn flat for a franchise with two prior installments-worth of narrative baggage and a longer-than-average campaign. Metal Gear Solid had a story worth telling. Uncharted 3 does not.
On that note, if I wanted to see big set piece action sequences I’d go and see the new Mission Impossible at IMAX sitting on my arse enjoying it. What I would not like to do is sit upright on full alert with a controller in hand nervously watching out for the next QTE cue lest something come out of nowhere and kill me, all under the pretentious guise of ‘interactivity’ and ‘immersion’. And while you’re at it you could consider the order of magnitude worse special effects. Not that I’m a guy all about visuals. Gameplay comes first and all that.
But if you (hopelessly) set out to crack the knot that is interactive cinema, what kind of game are you left with? And by ‘game’ I’m referring to the $70-or-so of value that separates your AAA+ new release video game from a cinema ticket or a DVD. I’m sure I’ve said this for the likes of Heavy Rain and Alan Wake (which I still mean to review at some point) but I’ll say it again here. There’s little ‘game’ at all. There’s a hodgepodge of different things the game gets you to do but none are any good and it would be a stretch to seriously call much of it ‘gameplay’ with a straight face. Shooting in third person and on a console… kill me now, there are few things I can stomach less. Hand to hand combat in games like this are usually also pretty bad and Uncharted doesn’t disappoint, nor does it miss the dubious opportunity to throw in a painfully broken cover system – the kind that is all the rage these days.
Would it be wrong of me to say that Uncharted 3 is just a vehicle for developers to prance around failing gallantly at achieving that mythical Holy Grail that is the merger between gaming and cinema? And to then expect to be patted on the back for it? Is the general audience for a game like this the new generation of mainstream gamers, weaned on jack-of-all-trades crap like GTA, who take whatever shit they’re given simply because they don’t know any better? In this day and age where 70 million consoles are out there being played by people who probably wouldn’t know a Dreamcast from their own backside, is what people like me think really relevant at all?
I don’t think Uncharted is a game for ‘gamers’. But then ‘gamer’ apparently means something completely different today.