Home > Playstation 3, Reviews, Video Games > Uncharted (PS3): How to Ruin a Great Game

Uncharted (PS3): How to Ruin a Great Game

Until about 75% through Uncharted, I was a huge fan of the game. I was wholly prepared to write a glowing recommendation for developer Naughty Dog’s masterpiece. I was read to tell anyone who listened that the PlayStation 3 finally had it’s own exclusive game that would be the first triple-A must-have experience. In other words, a true reason for buying the PS3. I thought that Uncharted was going to do for the PS3 what Gears of War did for the Xbox 360 last fall.

That all changed during the last quarter or so of the game. Spoilers (and an incredible amount of disappointment) below.

Uncharted had great promise.  The story, which is cliche and formulaic, follows Nathan Drake as he scours a tropical island looking for the legendary gold of El Dorado while dealing with a group of rival treasure hunters with their own private army.  Voice acting in the game is amazing, and the cut scenes are so well done that you simply won’t care that you already know what will happen.  The gameplay is similar to that of the latest Tomb Raiders, in which you scale rock walls, solve puzzles, shoot enemies, and so forth.  The non-combat parts of the game is easily the most enjoyable.  The platforming controls are tight and the puzzles are just the right difficulty.

Combat is terrible, however.  Through most of the game, you face small groups of weak enemies that are quite challenging and require a large amount of strategy and ammo conservation to defeat.  You’ll find yourself using the cover system to maneuver around the battlefield and taking shots at enemies when possible.  However, do not expect to be able to sneak behind enemies during a firefight.  Enemies can see you through walls, and will try to fire through steel walls at you rather than  go around the obstacle.  Also, unless you get a head shot, enemies take far too many bullets before going down.  This is made worse by the very limited ammo at your disposal.  To make matters worse, enemies have certain animations that make them invulnerable to bullets for a short time.

Despite the flaws in the combat, the game is quite enjoyable for most of the adventure.  The last quarter of the game is truly abysmal, however.  Whenever a game introduces an enemy that can one-shot your character from any distance, it is guaranteed frustration for the player. In fact,  one of the last fights in the game features at least six of these one-hit-kill enemies at once from a distance, and once you kill those six and their machine gun toting henchmen, a second wave of similar proportion spawns behind you.  The same thing happened literally five minutes before in the previous battle, and in the one before that, so hopefully you are prepared.  And do not bother saving after a particularly tough battle, because at death the game’s moronic autosave system will start you at the previous autosave and overwrite any saves made afterward.

The final boss encounter is broken and horrible.  You are stuck with one weapon, fighting against at least four or five guys with shotguns and machine guns and grenade launchers (one of them is a one hit kill enemy with the added benefit of being invincible to gunfire), and you have limited cover that can be destroyed by enemy gunfire.  The second to last section has a cutscene preceding it, and the exact moment the cutscene ends, you are being shot by four enemies and down immediately to approximately half health.  To make matters worse, the boss battle culminates in a one-on-one battle againt a shotgun wielding boss, and you have no weapons, limited destructible cover, and all it takes is one hit to kill you.  All told, I died over 40 times in the final three percent of the game.

I wanted to like Uncharted, I really did.   The graphics are amazing, and the voice acting and cutscenes are some of  the best ever in a video game. The platforming and adventure elements are solid and entertaining despite flawed combat.  Even the fact the game is short (slightly less than seven hours at the normal difficulty level) was not a detriment.  Unfortunately, the game’s reliance on trial-and-error at the end is bad game design, no question.  And because of the bizarre and frustrating difficulty curve, I cannot recommend this game for anymore than a rental.

Hopefully Uncharted 2 will be the game this one should have been.

  • Developer: Naughty Dog
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Release Date: 11/19/07
  • Price: $59.99
  • See Also:  Tomb Raider Legends
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  1. Tim
    February 19, 2008 at 8:11 PM

    Hey Zerot, It’s Celtic Merc. Man oh man, it sounds like that game has to be the most frustrating POS ever. Glad I didn’t get it. Talk to Setebos about it as he beat it and didn’t mention any of these problems. later man.

  2. Zerot
    February 19, 2008 at 8:18 PM

    The sad thing is that it’s not a POS. Unfortunately, that makes the game even more frustrating in the end.

  3. March 4, 2008 at 8:58 AM

    I just finished this game,
    i have to disagree, The final part IS hard, but not nearly as hard as you’re making it out to be.
    It took me 2 attempts to finish the final battle, and the fight with the 6 one shot killers i blasted through without dying on Normal mode too.
    Basically it sounds to me that you dont like this game because you arent very good at it.
    Terrible review.

  4. Zerot
    March 4, 2008 at 10:46 AM

    Keep in mind one of my favorite games is Ninja Gaiden. I have no problem with difficult games.

    I do, however, have a problem with games with extreme spikes in difficulty and things like instakill quick time events, invincible enemies, autosaves dropping you right in dangerous positions, and one-hit-kill enemies. All those things are examples of terrible game design at best.

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