The lights are on
Platforming, Treasure hunting, Hollywood style action and Beautiful visuals is something we all come to expect from the Uncharted series as it sucks us into the world of Nathan Drake. Some also enjoy the Multiplayer but I am not a fan-so I will only talk about single player. Naughty Dog has done a fantastic job updating the game with each iteration and the expectations of Uncharted 3 was at an all time high but they failed to build upon the success that Uncharted 2 gave the series. There may be some spoilers ahead so use caution.
I absolutely loved the first half of the game. It was filled with interesting plot points and seemed to focus more on the treasure expeditions that I came to love. I enjoyed the amount of Puzzles that were prevalent in the first few hours as you try to solve the mystery of Sir Francis Drake's travels. If there was one thing I could change about Uncharted 2-it would have included more puzzles. Some of the puzzles really challenged your thinking as I spent a handful of minutes trying to figure out what do to (one of those puzzles being where you had to finish the mural on the wall). Uncharted 3 also gets your attention during the first scene as all hell breaks loose in bar. We all know of the ring that Drake wears around his neck...well that ring is more important than we originally thought. One of the antagonists in the game (Talbot) is looking to obtain the ring from Nate by using the power of the all mighty dollar. As they make the trade, Sully (Yep, he's back) accuses of Talbot of giving them counterfeit cash and the deal is off. Here's where the hell breaks lose as you now have to fight for you life.
The game seems to have focused on polishing up the melee combat and it works pretty well. You can grab hold of people and head butt them or throw them into objects or other enemies. What's cool is that when you throw them up against something you can use some of the environment as a weapon (ie: Beer bottle in the bar), You will also go up against some bad guys who are more built which will require you to counter their attacks instead of trying to knock in a few punches. With that said, they somehow managed to make the shooting mechanics worse (after great improvements to UC2 from UC1) and the cover system is still clunky. When zooming in to shoot, the sticks became extremely stiff (dead zone). I tried to turn the sensitivity up but did little or nothing. Trying to shoot while using over-the-shoulder at a sprinting enemy was aggravating due to the slow turn speeds. This made aiming too jerky as well because I end up applying too much pressure and skip over the target while they're not moving. I also hated the fact that there was no shoulder swapping.......or at least I thought it wasn't there. Why it's a automatically turned off is stupid. I went through half the game without knowing the option to turn it on existed.
As the game progressed, it got more frustrating and I began to dislike it more and more as it slowly but surely abandoned the formula that made Uncharted great. Puzzles were all but forgotten in the second half and the treasure theme was non existent. The plot points that it built upon just never went anywhere or played a factor into the story. Uncharted 3 fails to go into details about certain events and characters so everything feels rushed and unorganized with poor character development. I also hated how the stories progression is almost always based off of coincidence and luck; the biggest one being washed up on the shores of the place where you had to go next. Even though it's just a game, it's way too implausible for something like that to happen.
All the frustration leads up to the worst possible chapter in the series and that's the last chapter. There is absolutely no build up to the death of Marlowe and the boss "battle" (not at all) is one of the worst fights ever in a video game that I have played. You can literally stand still and counter his attacks without moving. The whole chapter is one anti climatic snore fest that failed to leave any sort of impression on me what-so ever. To top this all off--it has a terrible ending which was just icing on the cake (or lack-there-of).
Graphically the game looks good as you can spot out dirt spots, scares, scrapes and bruises. The series does a great job when it comes to textural detail and it shows. Audio is also superb as it leaves you with a feeling of an internal struggle going on with Nate's group. Sound effects are great and animations are as fluid as ever. I was also a little disappointed in the dialog as the witty, sarcastic interactions with the other characters were barely noticeable. Another disappointing aspect to the game was level design as it was much more linear than previous installments. There were way too many "chase" scenes and where they forced you to walk. There was literally an entire chapter of you walking. No shooting, running, jumping or swimming.....just walking.
As stated above, I truly enjoyed the first half of the game but after the Pirate Battle/Ship level, it quickly went downhill. I'm over the disappointed feeling Uncharted 3 left me, so now I'm just analyzing the game and what I experienced. There will definitely be an angry mob of people when they read this review but this is what I honestly felt. The Second half of the game was complete garbage. Uncharted 3 also felt very short, which played a part in an underdeveloped story. I believe that Uncharted 3 might be the worst game in the series as I did not enjoy this game as much as I enjoyed the other 2. Visuals and Audio can take a game so far but if gameplay and story are lacking, there's nothing.
If curious, Scores I gave the other Uncharted games:
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune: 8.0
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: 9.5
I gotta admit I agree 100% with everything you said here, you nailed everything I didn't like about the game. The shooting mechanics were driving me crazy, it took me too many tries to beat some parts because of not shooting enemies in the head and them taking me out so fast or I wouldn't be able to get cover. I noticed also that they ditched the puzzles for the latter half of the game which was odd. The ending was abrupt as well, there was no real "boss" for the ending and the game seemed way too short. I remember playing UC2 for what seemed like a lot of long sessions but only remember playing this for maybe 4 or 5 sit downs. I still thought the game was great, maybe an 8.5 or so, but nowhere near UC2 in my opinion.