Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Another Uncharted 3 post

There are many moments in Uncharted 3 that exist to drive the fiction to a place of resolution, and they are barely played at all. It's nearly impossible to screw up the key moments in the game by making a wrong turn or messing up the timing. Those moments leave players with only the most rudimentary control: While running from deadly spiders, press down. While moving through a tight crevice with a claustrophobic friend, press forward. While fighting a giant while being sucked out of a plane, hammer on X – sometimes press Triangle. You're in control, but Uncharted is directing your every move, like your dad teaching you to hit a baseball off of a tee for the first time."

A more detailed examination from Kill Screen of what Penny Arcade's Tycho referred to as "Dragon's Lair 2012"

Monday, November 07, 2011

Fable 3 capsule review

In the bag, as of last night. What a miserable chore of a game. It's got absolutely no soul, which I think was the only (vague, non-specific and ultimately quite useless as a metric) thing that rescued the previous games from this third installment's tedium.

I liked the first game, preferred the second, but this one felt like a cash-in sequel farmed out to a different development team.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


Finished the Uncharted 3 campaign last night (final playtime clocked in at just over eight hours), and I think I'm ready to call this one as "not as good as Uncharted 2". I don't think there are any spoilers in this; I've been as vague as possible and have avoided mentioning any locations or plot points wherever possible.

It's technically better than the previous game in a lot of ways, and the dialogue is just streets ahead of anything else I think I've ever played (although the plot is a bit too similar to, and it shares a few too many set-pieces with, the previous game), but some of the mechanics just don't feel right and the design doesn't feel as polished as I was expecting.

I'm also pretty sure that the combat in this game is garbage. As it progresses, more and more of the gunfight environments feel (as Minx pointed out) like multiplayer arenas, with so many paths for enemies to flank on that you can't just dig in to plan out your strategy, or even just to regain health. A lot of the areas seemed really dark to me, too - I'd often lose sight of the floor in the gloom, or run into an obstacle I couldn't see when trying to escape one of the armoured bastards later in the game.

Another issue I had with the environments was how huge they are; the ship graveyard in particular sticks out as the best example of this "problem". They've obviously been designed to look EPIC, but the downside is that it feels like it takes forever to get through them. Uncharted 2 had a lot of similarly-themed locations, but I always felt like I was progressing through them quite quickly. In Uncharted 3, I felt like I was in that shipyard forever.

Generally I thought the shooting mechanics were decent enough, apart from some of the bullet sponges you're up against in the final third of the game - but to make things a bit frustrating when shooting, aiming has an "assist" that slows the reticule down when you're close to an enemy. Which is fine against static bad guys, but slows it down so much that you can't catch up to a running target.

Coming from Arkham City really underlines how poor the hand-to-hand stuff is, too - I think Rocksteady have made the gold standard in fisticuffs, and it's a shame Naughty Dog didn't rip it off a bit more directly. The "counterattack" prompt in particular is shonky; several times I've hit the button while the icon is still on-screen but failed to block or dodge the attack that triggered it.

This seems like a big list of complaints, but I think I enjoyed more of the game than I didn't. There were a couple of sections that frustrated the hell out of me, but never to the point of rage-quitting. I think part of the problem, for me anyway, was the amount of time I spent with Uncharted 2 - the vast majority of my time with it was playing on lower difficulty levels with unlocked weapons and one-hit-kills, so maybe my expectations were wrong. I think being in basically the opposite position from Gar (I loved the last one, and had big expectations) might explain why I'm relatively disappointed.

I'm glad they sorted out the final boss fight, though. The first and second game both had, in my opinion, unfairly-designed showdowns with the Big Bad, but they've done something different with this one - and while it still felt a little unbalanced it wasn't anywhere near as frustrating as the Lazarovic fight at the end of U2.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Drake's Deception

Man, Uncharted 3.

Be warned: if, like me, you consider someone's vague, general opinion about a videogame to be spoilers for that videogame, LOOK AWAY NOW.

I'd been on something of a blackout re: Naughty Dog's latest installment, avoiding everything I could - especially reviews. Some blogs endeavoured to defeat my embargo by posting articles with provocative headlines like, "Uncharted 3: totally awesome".

I didn't want to risk knowing anything about the game going in, so even that little morsel was irritating to see. One non-specific article, ostensibly about upcoming releases, posted what I consider to be a genuinely spoilerific image as the story's lead image.

But in the end, I needn't have worried. It's great. The writing, somehow, is even better than the second game. Combat's still a necessary evil rather than a fun thing to do in its own right, and the puzzles can be a little obtuse as a result of the limited way you can interact with the environment.

But those characters? I would follow them everywhere.

Man, Uncharted 3. Way to make it so hard for other videogames to be as great.