Unplayable: The Uncharted Trilogy

I typically write about more positive things or write with a more positive slant. However, I do occasionally write about a game that I rage over. Skate, Devil May Cry, SoulCalibur V, etc. I tried in the past to write a calm impressions piece about these games but I usually just end up ranting. So I’m going to embrace that and reintroduce a feature idea I had tried before: Unplayable. Unplayable will be me talking about games I hate and why I hate them. I’m sure a lot of the games I wind up hating will be controversial but venting is healthy sometimes. So without further waiting, here’s the first subject for the re-launch of Unplayable: the Uncharted trilogy.

I loaded up the Uncharted series after E3 so I get more hyped for Uncharted 4. I think the game is beautiful, and I like the characters, even if they are just action movie trope characters. I like the set pieces I get to play in. I mean, that part in Uncharted 2 where you’re jumping from truck to truck? Awesome! The section in Uncharted 3 where you’re escaping from the mansion as it’s burning down? So good! However, all of this doesn’t matter because I soon found out that I can’t stand this series for two reasons: screwy animations and FUCK AWFUL controls.

Now I know all of you are going to attack me for calling one of the most precious franchises on the PlayStation unplayable but hear me out. First off, let’s talk about those animations. When Nathan Drake jumps to something from standing, sometimes it looks smooth and sometimes it looks like he’s clipping or teleporting to where he needs to be. It’s even worst when he’s jumping from ledge to ledge. Climbing never looks smooth; it always looks weird. Now looks aren’t everything but it does affect gameplay. Which leads into my main issue with Uncharted: the controls.

OH MY GOD, WHO APPROVED THESE CONTROLS!? THREE TIMES!? Let’s start with the control issues with platforming. Like I said, the animations aren’t smooth and are never consistent. Part of the reason for this is because the jumping is not consistent. Tapping or holding the jump button doesn’t affect the type of jump Nathan does, which is fine but the problem is that Nathan does have different kinds of jumps. You just don’t have control over what jump you do. Sometimes Nate will do a little hop jump and sometimes he’ll launch himself like a roman warrior. The same can be said when climbing and jumping from ledge to ledge and it’s even worst because it affects the path you can take.

Sometimes you don’t think you’ll make a jump but thanks to the animations clipping or teleporting you, you somehow do. Sometimes there will be a ledge that you think you can reach but you can’t because the game wants you to go a different way instead. The game usually won’t even let you try it and fail. As in the game just won’t listen to you and despite you mashing the buttons, the game just won’t respond. It makes the jump button feel more like the jump suggestion button than an actual action you can control. Of course, this also makes for severely imprecise platforming. Mario, Nathan is not. Hell, he’s not even Crash Bandicoot, which is weird since Naughty Dog made that game too, therefore showing that they can make good platforming mechanics.

The next issue is a minor one: the camera. Unless there is a cinematic camera angle the game wants to show, it doesn’t follow Nate very well. That means that you need to control the camera yourself most if not all of the time and that’s an innovation that had been invented by the time the first game in the series. The other games in the series don’t really fix this either so there’s no excuse for this really. Also, there are moments where the camera will fix itself on some cinematic angle and I can’t see where I’m going as a result. Fuck your cinematic bullshit if it affects the gameplay!

Next is the melee combat. In Uncharted 1 and 2, melee combat is basically a glorified quick time event. All the fights are pre-rendered animations where you just mash square and triangle in the first game and just mash square until a prompt appears to press triangle in the second game. I mean, I don’t need the melee combat to be super impressive since I know it’s not the focus of the game but Sonic Boom has more options for you in combat. Uncharted 3 kind of fixes this by including some ideas from the Batman Arkham series but it’s not great. I do appreciate combat not being so QTE-lite in 3 though. Oh and real quick, sixaxis grenade aiming in Uncharted 1 sucks. Luckily it’s not in Uncharted 2 and 3.

Finally, the cover system. WHO THE FUCK THOUGHT MAPPING THE DODGE MECHANIC TO THE COVER MECHANIC WAS A GOOD IDEA!? Why would you tie one mechanic that is supposed to improve your mobility with another mechanic that’s supposed to limit your mobility? I’m always rolling around when I want to go into cover and vice versa. It has killed me multiple times, especially with the aiming mechanics being fairly mediocre, and it PISSES ME OFF! This is flat out broken and I can’t believe no one has catch this. It’s not like pressing circle and a direction equals dodging and pressing circle and leaving the thumbstick neutral equals cover. That doesn’t work. I tested it.

I finally rage quit after all of these problems decided to come together all at once. I was playing Uncharted 2 and I was near the end at the monastery. There was a enemy behind a turret gun and I needed to go around and ambush them from the side. I was doing so well. I took out the dudes along the way and had managed to get to where they were without them noticing me. I decide to blow them all up with a grenade so I snap into cover behind this structural beam and the camera freaks out. I struggle to fix the camera but I can’t. So I decide to go up the stairs I came down from and throw it from there. However, Nate is just refusing to climb the stairs, despite me having hopped over it before to get to the beam. So then I decided to snap into cover on the beam but from a different side. I have now been in this room for a minute and a half, still unnoticed. However, instead of snapping into cover, Nate rolls, right in front of the group of guys. They noticed me immediately, shoot me with shotguns and I’m almost immediately dead in two shots. Fuck. This. Game.

I’ve had stuff like this happen to me throughout the trilogy, not just the second game. It makes the game just beyond frustrating and not for the right reasons. I like the story, I like the graphics, I like the music, and I even like the gameplay in theory. However, the controls are just horrendous and the animations are just bad. Maybe if Naughty Dog fixed their games, I would enjoy them but as they are now, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception are Unplayable. Peace and Love, gamers and players. Try to be nice in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Unplayable: The Uncharted Trilogy

  1. As someone who’s been forced to play hundreds of hours of each game in the trilogy for someone else, I too have a strong opinion about this game. Unfortunately, this means I have a very clear grasp on how the game plays, to a degree I wish I didn’t.
    Your problems however, do not line up with mine. The controls are perfectly standard. They don’t really do anything great, but they’re not so broken as your ranting seems to be. The only true issue is in the third game, where they revamped the hand-to-hand combat and made the “grab and throw” dude button the same as your cover/rolling button, which ended with you frantically grabbing people instead of fleeing from what is usually a fatal confrontation on higher difficulties.
    That being said, there’s a lot you could’ve gone into about the mechanics, which unfortunately you didn’t.
    tl;dr
    Controls weren’t that bad (and the one instance that was truly terrible you didn’t mention at all), animation blending sometimes caused wonky visuals but hardly ruin the game. More time could be spent on mechanics instead of perceived control issues. As it is, your article comes off as childish ranting(which, fair enough, seems to be the point).

    All the same, the article is appreciated.

    Like

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