Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Developer: Naughty Dog
Metacrtic Score: 92
I guess this was inevitable. Maybe it wall all the perfect scores or maybe it was my own unreasonably high expectations, but this game just is not as good as the last two. Literally every single aspect of this game feels like a step backwards.
In this game Drake and friends (alto, mostly Sully) are looking for the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the Sands. Also looking for the city is a woman named Katherine Marlowe, a mysterious and powerful woman from Drake and Sully’s past. And if you know the uncharted games, you know how this plays out: They find the city, there’s a cures, Drake has to stop the villain from leaving with the cursed object and destroying the world or what not. And for right now that’s all i’m going to say about the plot.
My biggest issue with this games story is that it plays out like fan-fiction. Better than average fan-fiction, sure, but still fan-fiction. At no point did this feel like it was the next step up from the last game. A lot of that has to do with the villain, Katherine Marlowe. I think the idea was to craft a more personal story, witch could have been cool but when the last villain was trying to take over the world, the stakes just don’t feel as high. It also doesn’t help that the writers had no real idea just how powerful this woman and her people are.
There are a few times that it seems like the villains are these immortal and all knowing villains. Then, when the game needs them to be, they’re just people or have forgotten about these powers. For example: at one point someone jumps off a burning building after Marlowe tells them “this was always in the cards”. When Drake gets to him, there is a tarot card in his jacket. This is never used or brought up again. In another part of the game, you find of Marlowe’s men dead, but he looked like he had been dead for a few years when they had just gotten their. You find out (i’m assuming because they never really tell you) that these spider things did it. Those spiders are never explained and have no real purpose other than giving you an obstacles to face right when the game begins to drag a little bit. That’s bad writing. That is an artificial way to raise or lower the stakes and it just doesn’t work. And it happens all the time.
But probably the most egregious example of the fan-fiction level of writing is what they do with Sully. Through out the game he is giving you the “i am going to die one day talk”. As heavy handed as it was, the foreshadowing was nice as it did give some feeling of “this is the end of an era” like the end of a trilogy should. And his death would have given some pay off to the idea that this is a more intimate story for Drake. Sure, the world may not be a stake, but Drake’s world is. And that would have been awesome That is how you go from a big story with big villains to a smaller story like this. Now here is how they screwed that up: near the end of the game Sully is shot and dies…but not really. It turns out that all of that was a hallucination Drake was experiencing.
Then there is the relationship. Like the last game Drake and Elena broke up between games. And like the last game they get back together at the end of this one. Unlike the last game, Elena isn’t a huge part of the game. She’s there for all of one mission, then she doesn’t show up again until the end. But she is “the girl” so she had to want him back at the end, right? This was something Naughty Dog had almost seemed desperately trying not to do in the last two games, and here they just stopped trying.
There still are some good moments in the story, but they are few and far between. Naughty Dog can do better, we all know this. The fact that they didn’t is simply disappointing.
This should be impossible to say but, very little changed here and it still feels like a step backwards. I think the biggest part of that is due to the renewed focus on hand to hand combat. I haven’t really talked about the fist fighting in the last two games because it was never that important, but it is something that you’ll be doing a lot here. And this game has the worst hand to hand in the series. The fights are all little more that quick time events. And when you start a fist fight you pretty much have to finish it. In the first game I might punch a dude once or twice then shoot him, but that’s not really possible now has the game locks you into the fist fight. Making this worse is that if there are enemy with guns around they can still shoot you while you are trying to fight some one off. At least the shoot outs tend to be as good as they were in the last game.
The exploration also takes a turn for the worse as, once again, everything feels safe. This as an issue for me in the first game that was fixed in the sequel, so why they went back is something i’ll never understand. Making this worse is that fact that I honestly think the environment was more of an enemy in the first game too. And that’s all I really have to say about that, isn’t it?
Then there are the puzzles. Like I said in my review for “Among Thieves”, I understand that they have to create puzzles that even the dumbest player can get past, but the sheer scope of them can still make them interesting. Here we go back to boring. Make the statues face the right way, walk across the path the right way, and “mid evil game show”. None of these are all that interesting.
Even with the two really great set pieces, I have to say that this is still the lest fun game to actually play as well as having the worst story.
Game Play: 2/5
Music and Sound:
The one saving grace for this game is that the music and voice work are as good as they have ever been. Nolan North owns the role as Drake and the music for this series is worth listening to on it’s own. I wish I had more to say with out sounding redundant, but it is what it is, and it is just as great in the same ways as the last games.
Music and Sound: 5/5
Overall score: 3/5
Who is this game for:
This game is for people who love the franchise and want more of it. Out side of that audience though, I can’t really recommend this to any one if they haven’t played the first two.
And sorry for the lack of pics this time, i’m in a bit of a rush.