Why I Hated Uncharted 3

By Ben Alford on February 7th, 2012 (18 comments)

When you hear someone like Valve speak about their process they will frequently mention how to catch the player’s eye and subtly lead them without making them feel led. This is a crucial quality for linear games to feel good, and it is self-evident by playing Vavle’s games. In playing Uncharted 3 though, this crucial quality in linear design is missing, or even misleading.

An early chase sequence with Drake running from the people he crossed in a Hispanic city is rife with misleading options and appearances. One sees things that look climbable but really are not, sees lights that catch one’s eye and direction but really lead to dead ends, or even a jump that didn’t seem possible the first time is actually the way to go despite it (the jump ended up being one of those inconsistent jumps where Drake inexplicably floats for far longer than he normally does when jumping).

Further in the game there is an ascension up a tower during the night, with, of course, plenty of dudes to shoot. But once all the dudes are gone, the game comes to a sudden stop. “You should be feeling the pressure,” the dramatic game music says, but the actuality is that the AI partners are just standing around in a circle on the floor below like bumbling idiots, as the search of the level above for wherever the game wants me to go continues. I even restarted the checkpoint a few times thinking maybe the game was bugged; maybe the partners were supposed to lead me to the next point or a cut scene was supposed to play. It turned out to be neither of these problems. The door I was intended to go into was in a dark blind spot of the level, with nothing making the door stand out or even seem interactive (until I walk right against the door and a contextual button prompt flashes for an instant). Open this door though and fight the brute behind it and then my partners feel it is fine to come up and the game finally stumbles forward.

Then there is a section in a desert where I even took the time to flowingly write a long paragraph in my notes because it was so horrible and just encapsulated another reason why I really hate Uncharted 3:

There is a moment where there is this shot that is slowly rotating around a sand dune and I’m sure it would look cool if Drake was walking across that sand dune or something but apparently I didn’t walk across it the way the game wanted me to walk across it. The camera continues to rotate without me moving across it and, soon enough, Drake is no where to be seen. The camera keeps going and going and I’m just sitting here (for what feels like minutes) just dumbfounded, is this supposed to be cool somehow? Linearity completely breaks in this game and there is no way of dealing with it, nor does the game help in keeping the player on track. Once the camera does pan around fully, I see what went wrong. I walked too far in the “wrong” direction in this seemingly directionless desert, hit an invisible wall, and got stuck. Oh, as the camera pans around further, I see some foot prints, was someone here (even if just a mirage)? Maybe I can follow them. Then I hit another invisible wall, and realize those must be my baked in footprints that don’t disappear, not something giving me a nudge. The idea of being lost in a desert and having false-clue-confusion is an interesting one but that isn’t even what they are going for in this part. I follow the ridge this time, attempting to kind of guess where they want me to go, but even here, I am constantly hitting invisible walls on the sides. Then the capper, it doesn’t really matter what I did in this scene, it fades to white anyway and I end up in some completely different place. How this can be a game of the year contender for anyone is baffling, how anyone can really think this makes for an interesting play experience confounds me. It is this kind of distinguishable disconnect between what the game purports to be in this scene (a large open desert) and what it actually is (a balancing beam wide pathway) that completely turns me off and is one of the absolute worst ways to make a linear game.

Tags: Naughty Dog, Playstation 3, Uncharted 3, Uncharted, Uncharted 2, Sony, Sony Computer Entertainment America

Comment!
  • Fratersh 2 years, 6 months ago

    lol the sand dune trap of death, these developers need more time playtesting stuff. Ah but they have to make that precious November deadline for Christmas.

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  • Chad 2 years, 6 months ago

    Whatever happened to "proof-reading your article before you publish it"?

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  • mydawghatesme 2 years, 6 months ago

    I also have many problems with Uncharted 3. I feel like the controls haven't progressed at all over three titles and that a lot of the platforming is trial and error. However, I love the story and I really like the character interaction and dialogue throughout the whole series. Now, I didn't hate it, but I do feel that it is nothing more than a decent game.

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  • The_Australian_Ashman 2 years, 6 months ago

    Best story and characters in the biz. Great franchise, great game.

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  • Chris Davis 2 years, 6 months ago

    Been drinking some Haterade have we, Ben?

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  • acicon 2 years, 6 months ago

    Everyone I know loves the Uncharted series and thinks that 3 is the best of the bunch. I didn't have any particular interest in the series but my friends love the series, I asked to borrow the games starting with the first Uncharted, Drake's Fortune. I dunno bout you but I hated the fuck out of Uncharted 1. The platforming is ok if not a little too simplistic but the shooting, oh god the shooting. Uncharted has some of the worst, tedious and most boring ass shooting segments in video game history. People said that Uncharted 2 is much better than the first but to be honest it looks like more of the fucking same. Sure the cutscenes are gorgeous and cinematic and the "story" is "important" and "compelling" but a video game should be more about the gameplay and to me, Uncharted is pretty dull when it comes to that. It's something that I'd rather watch someone play than actually play. I'm still going to give 2 a shot and then move on to 3 but I have no high hopes for it.

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  • Zladko 2 years, 6 months ago

    I don't see how that's enough reason to HATE the game, as there are plenty of other good things about it, but that's an interesting point.

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  • drake and his fortune 2 years, 6 months ago

    Meh, those are stupid things to complain about for a game this good. Just because some places look like you climb and you cant, doesnt mean you should hate it.

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  • Brad Simons 2 years, 6 months ago

    The whole "catching a players eye" thing is hard to analyze appropriately. If done really well, I don't think the player should ever even notice. I think about how complex looking many of the environments in Uncharted 2 and 3 look without using the glowing beams of Enslaved or the red highlights of Mirror's Edge, and I'm surprised I'm not getting lost more. I just think those moments when I do get stuck stand out to me. Think about those cinematic high speed chases. Sure you fuck up one jump or two during that chase, but I think we take for granted all the turns and jumps amidst the craziness that we don't fuck up. The desert sequence is a whole different event. I can see why someone wouldn't like that moment. I also think it could have been done better. But I certainly wouldn't be "baffled" why someone would like the game having hated this sequence. Also, Uncharted is a shooter, and maybe that's why some people like it.

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    • Xander 2 years, 6 months ago

      I recently started the Uncharted series, played through 1 and 2, and I'm progressively starting to hate the series. Don't misunderstand, the environments are beautiful and searching for treasures is fun, but literally everything else turns me off the game. As you said, the high-speed chase scenes are bound to have a few fuck ups, but in Uncharted 2, the scene at the end with the falling bridge, is fucked beyond belief. I must have played that one sequence for 30 minutes because I had no idea what to do. I had to run forward as fast as possible because the bridge was collapsing, occasionally jumping over gaps, but about 1/4 of the way through the camera turns around to show the structures behind Drake collapsing. Because of this, I couldn't see any of the gaps in time to jump them. Yeah, it looks good, but I can't progress if I can't see where I'm going. To make matters worse, the camera stops moving at one point, apparently indicating that I had to make one last jumps across a huge gap, but it stops in such a way the the gap just looks like a bottomless pit. It's like the article brought up (but never specifically stated), the series seems to sacrifice actual playability for those cinematic moments. P.S. For the record; A. This is not strictly addressed to Brad, and B. This is only one among the many things about the series that annoys me. /rant

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  • Nolan Hedstrom 2 years, 6 months ago

    Why I Hated Ben Alford jk I don't hate Ben =) So my only problem with your complaints, though they may be justified, is I think you are complaining about the wrong things. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Uncharted series, and though 3 has its flaws I still thought it was a good game, it was in my top 10 of 2011, #3 if I recall. You complained about the beginning of the game when Drake was in *Cartagena, Colombia* about how it was difficult to perform the platforming, but I thought they did a good job of introducing what could be new players to how the games platforming works. Yes sometimes Drake. The whole series is over the top action, it's like an action movie you control. You had a problem with his jumps lasting to long, but now when he was navigating a capsizing cruise ship? I will give you that the section in the tower frustrated myself as well, they could have handled it better. So the desert section a lot of people have differing opinions on. I thought it was good, even though a bit frustrating, because you were supposed to be frustrated. If you were lost in a desert wandering around aimlessly with no sign of life or direction, seeing mirages, and dehydrated, you'd be pretty frustrated as well. I think it did the best job of putting you in Drakes shoes just short of your PS3 spraying you with sand. Yes the invisible walls suck, but think about the game from the developers perspective. They want you to be in a vast endless desert, but they can't make it that large, there has to be walls somewhere. Maybe they could have instead of walls put sand dunes that when you tried to climb up you would slide down? It sucks, but they have to work within certain limits. So I really want to talk about where this games story went in comparison to the previous to games, but I can't without spoiling too much. I will just say that I loved the direction the game took towards the end. One of my biggest problems with the game which you didn't mention was the combat. Uncharted is a story driven, platforming shooter, and honestly Uncharted 3 had the worst combat out of all three games. There were times when I got head shots that didn't count, the armored enemies took WAY too much damage, sometimes enemies would be invincible during certain animations. The situations that you were put in during this game where also more challenging than the previous games, like when enemies would come at you from all directions and the AI was smarter, which wouldn't be as bad and might be even welcome as a challenge, if not for the bad shooting. Now I know they patched the shooting, I haven't played since, but I am sure it's better. All of this said. I think the Uncharted series is phenomenal, they have excellent stories, they look beautiful, the scripted sequences are fun, they characters are fantastic, and some of the underlying tones and plot intrigue me to the point of playing the games multiple times. If you can't tell, I love this series. Ben I am sorry you had problems w

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  • bofabses 2 years, 6 months ago

    I hoped the desert scene would've played out more like you could wander around until a timer went off and faded to the next scene. All you'd have to do is make the level big enough to where you could never reach the edge before the time. Maybe put multiple mirages around for you to head towards. I think it still would have felt frustrating yet having a choice and not closed in.

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  • DalishCassassin 2 years, 6 months ago

    I definitely see some of the points you are making, but to be honest when I played the game I didn't notice those problems! Yes sometimes I did get stuck, didn't really know where to go, but I never really thought that it was a problem of the game (not saying you are wrong) but its strange how I never noticed the problems people are constantly bringing up about Uncharted 3! I think I was just too sucked into it. I played it on hard mode & I never noticed ANY glitches or bugs like many people talk about, & I didn't find shooting hard as in I felt that my shots WERE hitting people. Maybe Naughty Dog are just so good at telling the story, creating settings, the characters & the rest of it that these problems just completely slipped past me. Obviously that isn't any excuse for bad game design, but I can't agree with you on some of your points because I thought the game play design was brilliant. Uncharted 3 ended up being my GOTY 2011 even though before August of last year I'd never played an Uncharted game (only tried it out because the guys here at 4pp spoke so highly of it!) Though I do remember that character ally AI did annoy me a little in Syria and honestly that's the only problem I can think I had with this game. I actually liked the AI of enemies though, & I agree with Nolan's comment ^ about the scene in the desert. (Uh, I think this comment just ended up being about how I love Uncharted 3, whenever I get started on a comment here it always ends up being so long..) But you know difference of opinion is important so that we don't get the same types of games every single time, so you hate Uncharted 3, I love it, & that's that.

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  • Greg the Keg 2 years, 6 months ago

    I don't know Ben, I felt like Uncharted 3 really broadcasted what your next step is supposed to be pretty well. If I have a complaint with the game, it's with the clunky shooting controls, not with the platforming or linearity. I really only had one instance in the whole story where I didn't know where I was supposed to go or what I was supposed to do next... and then the next time I picked up the controller, the answer was right in front of me and I felt like an idiot for not seeing it right away. Brad said it perfectly a few comments up, I was surprised I wasn't getting lost more. Environments that looked ornate and complex were second-nature to navigate, thanks to clever camera-work, map design and pacing.

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  • lemith 2 years, 6 months ago

    These are very few small problems man, I mean its ok to not like the game... But to outright hate it? C'mon....

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    • Nolan Hedstrom 2 years, 6 months ago

      This is America...anyone can hate anything they want! =)

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      • Greg the Keg 2 years, 6 months ago

        Nope, this is the America of the rednecks from South Park, who I'm sure are Uncharted fans. "If you don't like Uncharted, you can g-yeeeeeeet out!"

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  • ssa316 2 years, 6 months ago

    I like the Uncharted games, and 3 is my favorite in the series, but I've always disliked a lot of the core gameplay elements when you break them down. The shooting for example has never felt particularly great, it is a vital and exciting complement to the many crazy cinematic action moments though, but whenever you're stuck in a room for 5-10 minutes just shooting things it gets old fast. The platforming, oddly enough, I find to be the opposite. Whenever you're just climing walls and blocks it's not so bad, but as soon as you're thrown into a life-or-death cinematic moment it often quickly becomes irritating. It's not really a matter of failing at the jump and having to redo it over, even though that does happen randomly and can be enough to kill the moment, but even when you do successfully land a lot of the jumps it doesn't really feel satisfying... like most of the control of the jump is robbed from you anyway and you're just being magnetically let towards the location. The transition rarely feels organic... more like a quicktime event with a bit of anolog movement thrown in. Then again I've never been a fan of this new "do-most-of-the-work-for-you" platforming convention... I miss the physicality and organic feel of the old Tomb Raider games, where they didn't need the gimmick of scripted events, as pretty much every jump had the weight of life-or-death.

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