Before I get all Victor Meldrew on you lot, let me just state that in my opinion Uncharted is unequivocally one of the best new IPs to come out of this current crop of home consoles. The lush locations, stellar dialogue and sumptuous set-pieces have set the bar for action-adventure games on PlayStation 3 (and other formats, for that matter) and the visuals are one of the few examples of Sony’s hardware being pushed to its limits. Not only that, but Nathan Drake has become one of the most iconic and recognisable gaming heroes of the past half a decade, with his cheeky chappie demeanour and witty one-liners resonating with gamers across the globe.
However, Naughty Dog’s acclaimed franchise isn’t without its faults. In fact, if I’m being honest, I find myself somewhat flabbergasted that over the course of three games – not to mention a handheld prequel – Uncharted still manages to boast the same irritating flaws that could quite have easily been ironed out on day one.
With that said, here’s 3 things that Uncharted gets wrong.
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Dull, repetitive enemy types
Uncharted’s combat pretty basic but perfectly functional, marrying tight controls with a decent amount of strategy. However, Drake’s foes are dull as dishwater, and lack variety. Sure, there’s the occasional glimmer of originality – without spoiling anything, usually towards the end of the game – but aside from that, our wise-cracking hero spends all his time capping endless swarms of pirates and mercenaries. Boring. With all the exotic locations up for grabs, why not give us some pugnacious wildlife to combat. Tomb Raider 1 came out in 1996, and yet the first level alone packs more enemy types than the whole of Uncharted. It’s crazy, and to be honest at the end of each game I was sick and tired of all the monotony that came with dispatching the same generic grunts over and over again.
Climbing is ridiculously easy
Drake’s precarious platforming is a joy to watch, but in terms of execution it’s almost insultingly simple. Unlike Tomb Raider, there’s very little incentive for those meticulously-timed jumps, with Drake’s path pretty much laid out in front of him – as such, you never quite feel you are taking any risks. This niggle is further compounded by the fact Drake can’t go anywhere the game doesn’t want him to; if you can climb something, he’ll grab it, but if not, he’ll just grasp at air. It’s all incredibly restricting and linear, eliminating any degree of freedom a game such as this could potentially hold. How much better would it be to have Drake taking a daredevil shortcut rather than the simple route, or at the very least have him fatigued by his actions rather than swinging about like a monkey on crack?
I’m not about to suggest Uncharted should become an open-world affair; far from it, in fact. As Naughty Dog has pointed out, going down the sandbox route would prove detrimental to the series trademark blend of linear, cinematic storytelling and tight pacing. However, Uncharted is perhaps too linear for its own good. It wouldn’t hurt opening up the environments just a little bit more, giving gamers not only the chance to soak up those stunning locations more, but more importantly make those hidden treasures even more difficult to sniff out. Rarely in Uncharted do you get to wonder off the beaten track as it were to hunt for items and explore the world around you, and I for one think it’s a crying shame given the attention to detail that has gone into the game world. Give Drake a chance to stretch his legs a little more, eh Naughty Dog?