What is the Uncharted series in a nutshell? Many will say that the series is a pinnacle of modern game design; the perfect marriage of cinematography and gameplay elements. In response to Eurogamer’s 8 out of 10 review of Uncharted 3 review, fans of the series from all around the internet were noticeably upset. Flamming, angry protesting, common internet faire… An 8 out of 10 is a fine score mind you, but with demands that anything under a 10 wasn’t only unwarranted but dishonorable to a series that is great regardless of review scores, it comes off sort of ridiculous. I think this comes from a real blind idea that Uncharted is the be all end all of games, and while I love the series for everything it is worth, it is no means the ultimate form of the game experience. You, as the crazed fans are giving the series (and its fans) a bad light for acting this way. You know who you are. I’m here to fix it – to help you understand what Uncharted really did for gaming.
Uncharted is a perfection of cinematic storytelling. Like, seriously. Before Naughty Dog brought upon us the Uncharted series, not much could capture that pure movie essence that this series has, and make a fantastic series out of it. Notice how I said “pure movie essence” in the previous statement, because I really want to dwell on that a bit. As our resident Dan K. says: “Uncharted is the greatest movie game ever”. Uncharted created the perfect melding of high quality cinematics, nonstop action, and solid gameplay that game developers have been dying to reproduce for decades. Since then they have run with it, as it was the poster child for how to make a cinematic game work wonders.
Look at the Tomb Raider series. The busty video game icon that took a lot from the Indiana Jones series of movies (great movies by the way), and made a game out of it. Those games were cool, but they never quite felt like a movie. It just felt like a game trying to be a movie. Then comes along Uncharted who looked to the Tomb Raider series and said “we can do this better”. Uncharted doesn’t feel like a game that is trying too hard, it feels like the most natural combination of movie-like storytelling and gameplaying I’ve had the luck to have played. Now, ironically, look as the reboot of the Tomb Raider series takes the series that built so much off of its past and includes its elements in their own new game. This is because Uncharted took what didn’t work in Tomb Raider, and made it happen, and now Tomb Raider wants to follow suit.
If I had to compare Uncharted to a modern movie, I would liken it to The Expendables. Uncharted’s story never crossed me as one to hold on a shelf as high as that of the Godfather or Mass Effect 2. Rather, Uncharted is a grossly fun action movie that you go along on the ride for, and walk out just as satisfied, in a totally different way. The narrative is wholefully cliché, but charming at the same time (due mostly to a lovable cast of characters; or in the case of The Expendables, the actors), and you are really in it for the predictable but awe-inducing action sequences. Uncharted is the gaming equivalent of a blockbuster movie. It is, obvious comparisons aside, the Raiders of the Lost Ark of gaming, the Terminator of interactive media, and not that much more. In those respects it is still something worth idolizing for developers who want to follow similar goals as Uncharted, but it is far from the ultimate series this generation. I mean, who doesn’t like action movies?
I sympathize with Simon Parker’s 8 out of 10 as I sympathize with Greg Miller’s perfect score. Both had very strong reasoning behind their respective scores, and both scores are pretty damn good. Uncharted 3 was an example of a near perfect entry in its genre, which is what Miller saw it for. Also, it was a super linear, but super fun action adventure excursion, as Parker explained so openly.
What Uncharted has done is show us that it is possible to bring two forms of media together and create a damn good game. Uncharted is not perfect, I don’t know how much more that needs to be said. And a few scores, written by writers that I respect and read from often, does not change how much I liked Uncharted 3. It’s actually refreshing to see a new perspective. Just something I needed to take a bite out of.