We all have games that we love and franchises we cherish. Many of these great series, like Uncharted, have redefined their genres and reached high critical acclaim through perfection, according to most of their fans and reviewers. Yet it’s not entirely true or fair to label them as such since there’s no game that is truly perfect and saying so will drive those fanboys f***ing mental!
I do like the Uncharted series. Ok, I’m more a Gears of War fan, but that doesn’t mean to say I’m not thankful for the impact Uncharted has had on other franchises. This stellar series has helped shape up the action/adventure genre and influence many others, including the excellent Tomb Raider reboot. That said, Uncharted is not perfect, and today I’ll explain why.
Disclaimer: If you love Uncharted and, like my best friend, will moan at me for even speaking ill of the beloved series, all I can say is, I don’t care. This is my opinion. But I’m sure you all have your own, so feel free to give your input in the comments.
Compared to other action/adventure games, Uncharted lacks any diverse variation in its design for an antagonizing force. Tomb Raider is excellent at bringing in a variation of grounded enemies and supernatural elements to fight, whereas Uncharted brings in bad guys with guns for 95% of encounters throughout the series. The most exciting enemies you tend to get are helicopters, ghoul-like weirdos, or the furry-horned dudes in that small segment in Uncharted 2. Besides that, the actual bosses are poorly executed, resembling bigger versions of standard enemies with more health.
Uncharted’s best offerings are nothing more than bland human NPCs with simple, stupid or overbearing, relentless AI. By this, I mean they either throw grenades at each other or rush you with shotguns. It doesn’t help that enemies in Uncharted are like bullet sponges and Nathan himself can take only two to three hits before he dies. I wouldn’t mind so much, but even on the normal difficulty, enemies are still tough and Nathan has the resistance of a delicate little flower.
This issue is strengthened by NPCs having pin-point accuracy while wielding AK47s when Nathan can barely control the massive amounts of recoil from using a pistol. This makes fights feel unbalanced and, dare I say, a little tedious overall.
Uncharted’s QTEs are extremely underwhelming compared to those found in other games, causing little excitement or tension, due to their uninspired presentation or the lack of an engaging event behind it. With a game like Gears of War, there’s usually something epic happening like a chainsaw duel or a big fight between a Corpser and a Brumak. This flawed element of gameplay is worth noting, as the remainder of set pieces in the Uncharted games are usually brilliant. They are highly dynamic, lovingly crafted, and extremely enthralling at times, with the QTEs being awful in comparison.
Even Uncharted 4‘s end boss fight with a sort-of QTE where you fight Rafe is awful. It’s kind of like The Order 1886’s boss fight but without visually prompted elements.
So, pretty much every game has a bland, cardboard cut-out of a bad guy we’ve seen a million times before. It’s as if the writers have pulled a template villain from a creative writing book without bothering to add depth, personality, or a motive that doesn’t involve world domination.
Uncharted usually throws in an English douchebag or a violent warlord from South America or a combination of the two. There’s a distinct lack of personality, and therefore there isn’t anything to connect with or worthwhile to remember. They just become a cliché of a cliché, adding little to the story and end up seeming worthless compared to our very entertaining and likable cast. You could replace each villain with Skeletor and that would make just as much sense. Probably be way more interesting too.
I include Katherine Marlowe in this squad of poor villains–indeed, she was pretty forgettable. I can’t remember one interesting fact about her aside from the fact that she’s English and also evil.
The only exception is Rafe: in Uncharted 4, we see a development of his character and understand why he and Drake are at war with one another. Thankfully he’s American and breaks away from the clichéd, foreign bad-guy trope and has a high level of effect as a leading antagonist. Yet he’s just a fleshed-out version of Harry Flynn. I mean it, they even look alike.
What I mean by the subtitle is that the series is inconsistent in terms of its campaigns and certain gameplay factors. The first game was pretty much 80% tedious with its shooting and horrendous balancing problem. Constant shootouts and a lack of interesting set pieces or dynamic events just made it a slightly above average bore, never slowing down, but also not pushing the boundary of what a game can offer; it’s unlike Gears of War, a game from 2006, which escalated throughout the campaign and offered new dynamics, changed pacing, and added new dynamics.
Uncharted 2 is much better, but it started with a long, tedious museum break-in accompanied by a train stage that was fun to begin with but, like the train itself, just became overly long and a little ridiculous. Uncharted 3 was the only game to really have strong, fluent pacing, and then Uncharted 4 just ruined it. While I think Uncharted 4 is very good, it’s got some serious pacing issues. There are long segments where the game forces you to slow down and take in the sights for the sake of it, and then there are platforming sections with few interesting events. Yes, the shooting and set pieces are awesome, but they are few and far between, not to mention that Nathan can take a few 20ft drops onto solid surfaces, but a small drop onto snow can kill him. Huh?
This is a big one: Almost all the titles in the franchise have a lame ending. Again, Uncharted 3 did it well, ending on a high note. Uncharted 1 and 2 just felt like they wanted it to be done and dusted by the time the final boss was beaten. Lasting no more than a solid minute or two, it felt cheap considering the games lasted 13-14 hours each.
Uncharted 4 just ends with an overly long, unnecessary detour to ensure . . . well, I wasn’t sure exactly what. You play as the daughter who finds Nathan’s stash of collected treasure, and that’s it. Will she become the lead of future Uncharted games? Why was the big event of the end playing Crash Bandicoot.
That’s my discussion on Uncharted and what’s wrong with it. Again, it’s a great series but there are flaws, and to show I’m not an Xbox fan boy, I’ll be writing about what I find wrong with the Gears of War series, next.