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Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PlayStation 3) artwork

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PlayStation 3) review


"Uncharted 3 is mostly filler without gameplay. It's the modern equivalent of those full motion video games folks made back in the 90s when new CD-ROMs afforded all that storage space. So developers shot video footage, grafted it onto various games (usually puzzle collections), and a genre was born. Who cares whether there was an actual game in there?"



As a shooter, Uncharted 3 is solid, if not mostly the same as it's ever been. I can do without the fisticuff QTEs, which play like a bargain bin version of the fighting from Batman: Arkham City. It's especially silly how you have to keep fighting the same big guy over and over, as if Uncharted 3 needs to keep saying, "Hey, remember how cool this bit was in Raider of the Lost Ark?" Uncharted 3 says that a lot. But the gunplay is good, and it provides a solid foundation for the mostly typical multiplayer support. You get lots of options for leveling up, customizing your characters, and playing various types of cooperative and competitive games. There's even a competitive/cooperative mode in which two teams of two players take turns playing the heroes and playing special thugs amid all the AI thugs.

But as an overall package, Uncharted 3 is mostly filler without gameplay. It's the modern equivalent of those full motion video games folks made back in the 90s when new CD-ROMs afforded all that storage space. So developers shot video footage, grafted it onto various games (usually puzzle collections), and a genre was born. Who cares whether there was an actual game in there? We were watching actual real video featuring celebrities like Mark Hamill, Dennis Hopper, Rob Schneider, and whoever the chick was in that Phantasmagoria game! She was famous, wasn't she? I forget.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception asset


So as Uncharted 3 dutifully goes through the paces from cinematic set piece to cinematic set piece, featuring elaborately motion-captured and ably voice-acted characters in canned feats of derring-do straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's starting to occur to me that I'm just killing time on the way to the serviceable shooter bits. Why don't I just cut to the chase and play a better shooter without all the breaks for something that clearly wishes it was a movie? Why is my decent third-person shooter so bogged down by an overlong, ill-fitting, poorly told, and ultimately uninteresting story?

When the backlash happened against FMV games, it was because players realized they weren't doing anything, so they might as well watch sitcoms and whatnot. Uncharted 3 doesn't quite make that same mistake. You have to participate by holding the analog stick up to move Drake forward. You are almost literally pushing him, as surely as you push a truck in one of Uncharted 3's many non-puzzling puzzles. Push him through stretches of exposition, through flashbacks, through hallucinations, through wilderness, through crevices, up walls, along railings. In the climbing sequences, which have zero sense of exploration or uncertainty, you push Drake up a wall much as you might push a child up a jungle gym to help him feel a sense of accomplishment.

There are perhaps three sequences where the climbing also involves shooting, with the camera swinging down below Drake to look up at enemies shooting down at him. It's exactly like Dark Void, which you didn't play because it wasn't the third in a popular series. But the occasional gunfight isn't enough to breathe life into all that climbing and jumping along a set path with no sense of danger and no deviation. As the camera helpfully lines up the next designated jump, Drake quips, "I've only got one shot at this". Actually, no. Saying so doesn't somehow make this dramatic. You have as many shots at this as this takes. One of the levels, which you can freely replay, is called "One Shot at This".

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception asset


Uncharted took the Tomb Raider formula and improved on it with meaningful characters, latest-gen graphics, and hearty gunplay. But why does it keep Tomb Raider's acrobatics when it treats them as such a pointless formality? In Tomb Raider, you jumped and climbed as a way of exploring the world and solving puzzles. Lara Croft's moves were how you interacted with elaborate mechanisms. All that is gone in Uncharted 3. Now you push Drake along rails to reach a point where you press the triangle button that pulls a switch that opens the door to either a canned action sequence, more climbing, or a cover-based shooter. It's all busy work, and it's all so rote. A chandelier in a French chateau is no different from a chandelier in a cruise ship, which is no different from a chandelier in an ancient Arabic city. And ultimately, they're no different than a rusty rail on a wrecked ship.

Furthermore, this latest Uncharted takes a weird democratic approach to the acrobatic shenanigans. The bad guys always made their way to unlikely places so Drake would have someone to fight. But now Drake's entourage tags along in a veritable Parkour parade up and down crumbling walls, over chasms, and along all those highlighted yellow railings. Even Sully, who's got to be pushing 60, performs Prince-of-Persia-worthy feats simply because Uncharted is so accustomed to shunting you along its clearly labeled routes that it figures, heck, anyone can do it, so why not have Drake's friends along for the fun? In the original Uncharted, Drake had to find a way to around a door or up to a high point to check a clue while Elena waited. Not because she was a girl, but because he was the hero. Now she just goes wherever he goes, upper body strength be damned. It's like when R2-D2 grew jets for the more recent Star Wars movies. Why didn't he use those in the original movies?

Even the gunplay fits poorly with the story and characters. Drake and Sully shoot their way through a courtyard occupied by twenty soldiers armed with rocket launchers and riot shields and shotguns and destructible bits of body armor. Then they get to a cutscene in which a couple of dudes in casual attire get the drop on them using pistols. Look, Uncharted, you have established a world in which Drake can easily shrug off bullets and gun down dozens of men with nary a saved game being reloaded. If that's the world you want to build, don't tell me a story that ignores that world. Because that's what those FMV games used to do. You should be better than that. You built yourself on characters that matter. What happened?

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception asset


But it all comes down to how the story and the characters no longer fit the gameplay. Elena accompanies Nate through a series of gun battles, gunning down henchmen by the dozens with the practiced aplomb of a trained soldier or an inveterate videogamer. At the transition point to the next level, Drake decides to deliver a supposedly moving speech, accompanied by music and earnest voice acting, about how he can't risk losing her, so she has to stay behind for this next level. At which point something happens that separates them anyway, so what's the big deal?

This is a classic example of writing a story, and also designed a game, and no one considering whether they fit. It's a disservice to what was so good about Uncharted, where the characters didn't feel jammed so inelegantly into someone else's game. If Naughty Dog doesn't care enough about their characters to find them a consistent place in the world and to establish the stakes, then why should I care?

The characters are still charming, if not underwritten. Most of the dialogue is either turgid exposition or jokey bits that wouldn't be out of place in a mid-season replacement on network TV. "That's what she said" must be pretty popular around the Naughty Dog offices. There isn't a single meaningful reveal or development, although I admit that I was entirely confused about some business with wedding rings. Did I miss Uncharted 2.5? The connection between Nate and Elena that gave the first game so much heart sits in the background again, although at least Uncharted 3 has the sense to kick Chloe to the curb at about the half-way point. This Uncharted intends to explore the relationship between Drake and Sully, which doesn't really need exploring. We know that Sully is gruff, weary, deeply loyal to Drake, and a father figure. Treating these things as reveals doesn't give the story weight. It's like listening to a joke when you already know the punchline.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception asset


The plot this time around makes even less sense than Uncharted 2's tree resin that lets you take more damage. The bad guys are chasing a mysterious doo-dad that will apparently let them do something a) that they're already doing, and b) that pretty much anyone with a chemistry set can do. It's a pretty lousy villain who goes chasing a relic to the far ends of the earth when she could have just whipped up a little something in her garage. But it's a pretty lousy villain anyway. Actually, a pair of them. One is underdeveloped considering how she's supposed to fit into the action, and the other is laughably generic, right down to the looping QTE that serves as the final boss fight. He is dispatched with a line from Brian DePalma's The Untouchables. The locations are mostly as forgettable as the new characters. There's a reason few games take place in the open desert.

However, Uncharted 3 includes an exception to almost everything I've written here. For four chapters out of 22, this game absolutely comes alive. Drake briefly heads out to sea for a side adventure, against a whole new villain, in a whole new setting. This stretch of action is easily among the best that Uncharted has ever been. The levels progress in a consistent and fascinating way, steadily ramping up the action and raising the stakes. The villain has a fantastic finale, and even the climbing bits are exciting for how they work their way through the shifting levels. If the rest of the game had the same creative energy as chapters 12 through 15, Uncharted 3 would be a worthy spectacle even if it didn't care about its characters. But we demand at least ten hours from our single-player experiences, even when a developer can't come up with ten hours that don't feel like filler. So instead of being a tightly contained package about an adventure at sea, Uncharted 3 is a drawn-out slog through a barren gameplay desert peppered with bits of decent shooting.

Rating: 4/10

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Freelance review by Tom Chick (November 02, 2011)

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Suskie posted November 02, 2011:



I still remember when Zig's review of Uncharted 2 prompted 100+ replies, and he gave that an 8/10.

I like this review quite a bit. It's been almost two years since I played Uncharted 2, but I remember praising it for its revelatory use of set pieces. The big review cliche surrounding that game was that "it feels like you're playing an action movie" etc., so your approach here -- taking a logical perspective and noting the inconsistencies Uncharted 3 has, both with the previous games and with the world Naughty Dog have created -- definitely resonates with me. I haven't played Uncharted 3 yet and I doubt these things would irritate me as much as they irritated you, but you've made valid points against a series that's known for meshing cinematics with gameplay.

Of course, I know Mr. Chick doesn't actually hang around the forums, so this post is really intended to act as a counterpoint to what I'm anticipating will be a massive influx of angry fanboys over the next few days. The countdown commences...
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Masters posted November 02, 2011:

I'm playing the game already, Mike, and I have to say I find myself decidedly underwhelmed. This, despite liking the first game, and LOVING the second.

Edit: Just properly read the review, and it's one of Tom's best--a great piece. The score seems a bit low, but the analysis is spot on.

LOL @ the Facebook 'fans', most of whom I'd wager have not actually PLAYED Uncharted 3 yet, yet choose to get butthurt anyway. Yes, we know you loved Uncharted 2--so did I--it doesn't mean the sequel is good.
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Suskie posted November 02, 2011:

I think the reason I'm having so much trouble buying into the Uncharted 3 hype is because most of the reviews are bigging up the same qualities that made Uncharted 2 so great, but the reviewers are acting like this is the first time we've seen them. One of the reasons I predicted that the third game would be disappointing was because the second one set the bar so high for what it did well (spectacular action movie set pieces and whatnot) that there's really no place to go except to offer more of the same. I don't have any trouble believing that Uncharted 3 is a great game, or even that it's on par with the last one, but that doesn't make it best-thing-ever, game-of-the-year material.

Again, I haven't played it. That's just my impression as someone who loved Uncharted 2.
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holdthephone posted November 02, 2011:

I feel like this isn't the most objective review I've read but it's a well done opinion piece and you explain yourself well, at least.

Sounds like if you enjoyed Uncharted 2 then this one looks at the VERY least to be a decent experience. I can't say though yet as I haven't picked it up. But a 4/10? Christ...I have to ask -- what did you think of Uncharted 2?

EDIT: This quote is where I think most of your readers will start rolling their eyes,

"Why don't I just cut to the chase and play a better shooter without all the breaks for something that clearly wishes it was a movie? Why is my decent third-person shooter so bogged down by an overlong, ill-fitting, poorly told, and ultimately uninteresting story?"

Based on this logic, UC2 is also fairly sub-par, but it's not. On paper the story is terrible and overdone, the dialogue is typical hollywood fair, the shooting does nothing to set itself above others and is in fact fairly mediocre. As a package however, UC2 was an incredibly presented video game interpretation of a popcorn treasure hunting flick, and set a standard for what the medium is capable of. Many of the flaws you mentioned for UC3 were indeed the charm of UC2, an so you're understandably alienating a lot of your readers.

I won't say you're wrong though, I haven't played it, after all.
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zippdementia posted November 02, 2011:

Sadly, people are going to jump on the score you gave this game and use that as ammunition to ignore your valid points.

The screenshots look very pretty and I'd love to hear whether the graphics all fit together in motion. I'd like to know whether they succeeded or failed in making you feel like you were in those locations; a couple well-phrased sentences could have achieved this. Even if you stuck with a basic premise of "no matter how good it looks, the level design keeps it from being interesting" a tip of the hat to this discussion almost feels neccessary in a game that's gotten so much attention for its visuals. Because some people WILL play this, and ENJOY it, for the visual appeal. I'd love to know whether that appeal truly exists.
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Masters posted November 02, 2011:

I don't think the point about the game's visual appeal is all that relevant. Uncharted games have always looked awesome--people know they're going to get a pretty game. It's status quo, if anything.

In fact, it's less than that, because Uncharted 3 doesn't look markedly better than Uncharted 2, so much of the wow factor is removed. With the novelty of "OMG this is like playing out a movie" worn thin, we're left wondering if the game functions as well as it should. It does not, and the review fleshes this out in great detail.
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overdrive posted November 02, 2011:

Mike
That's the impression that I got from it, too. I gave UC2 an 8/10. Thought it was an overall above-average (but not great) game that was blessed with amazing presentation, graphics, etc. The sort of thing that's an awesome experience to play through, but after I was done playing it, I didn't have any desire to do so again. I'd seen all the pretty stuff. For me, Final Fantasy XIII is like that, but a bit worse, as it takes much, much longer to play. UC3 doesn't have the "awesome-looking" mystique to make it appealing, because I've been there and done that with this franchise.

In reality, all I hope is that the one dude who took issue with Zig's 8/10 comes back with his offer to tell the reviewer that if they sat down together and played it with random dude explaining everything awesome about the game, his opinion will be changed. That was pure gold.
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WilltheGreat posted November 02, 2011:

I won't say you're wrong though,

At the risk of adding fuel to the drama flames, bullshit, that's exactly what you just said. You danced around it by talking primarily about UC2, but that's what you were getting at.

EDIT: Also, I blocked off-site Facebook content shortly after instant personalization reared its ugly little head. Can someone screenshot this alluded-to butthurt so I may enjoy it?
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honestgamer posted November 02, 2011:

At present there are 46 Facebook comments, Will. Most of them are negative, some more interesting than others. They don't all fit on a single screen... or two... or three. The consensus seems to be that this review was financed by Microsoft, who apparently is so hard up that the company has now started paying sites and reviewers to sabotage Sony by posting negative reviews for Sony exclusives. It's absurd, of course, but apparently easier for some people to believe than the reality: some people just don't adore Uncharted 3.

For the record, I consider it likely that when I finally get around to playing Uncharted 3, I will enjoy it somewhere around twice as much as Tom did. I still felt that he wrote a terrific review that made some points that definitely need to be made. If we're going to ask for our video games to have a lot more of the story/video element, then we should probably demand that they follow the conventions of good storytelling and remain true to their characters and world. To me, that was what Tom was really saying (as well as that Uncharted 3 didn't do a good job at that).
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Masters posted November 02, 2011:

Many of the flaws you mentioned for UC3 were indeed the charm of UC2

No, no that's not right.

Where UC2 is charming, UC3 is obnoxious and just plain dumb. Despite wanting to give UC2 a 9/10, easy--I am actually struggling to keep at playing UC3. I'm at Chapter 7 wondering what the point of this all is.
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wolfqueen001 posted November 02, 2011:

Here. I'm just going to hyperlink it instead of embed it. The image is kind of fuzzy as is, so you might have to zoom in to read it properly.

pretty much the same old crap

EDIT: Well, that's just a small portion of it then. Still, I imagine the rest of it is much the same BS.
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WilltheGreat posted November 02, 2011:

Bahaha. Thanks for the snippit and summary WQ/Jason.

Some people. Yeesh.

Well I guess you can put all that Microsoft money into generous stipends for the news team, hey? xD

Just remember to take everything you see posted via Facebook with a large grain of salt. Remember, this is the online community so stupid that they can't figure out how to use the internet in the first place.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 02, 2011:

It's funny how no one cries bias when someone writes a positive review. Had Tom had given a 10 to a universally disliked game, he wouldn't have gotten a single off-site comment. Basically: you're so biased = I'm not mature enough to not be offended when someone doesn't have the same tastes as me.
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Suskie posted November 02, 2011:

Dammit, Jason. I forgot that people can comment on Facebook now, too. I guess we won't be seeing the forums flooded after all.

Trying to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Fanboys are hilarious.
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WilltheGreat posted November 02, 2011:

Suskie, the upside is that we are now free to sit here in our ivory internet tower, cackling maniacally at the mob below who are yelling and screaming for our heads, and casually discussing to ourselves how much more civilized we are than them.

Pass me another cigar, would you?
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wolfqueen001 posted November 02, 2011:

Haha. Part of me will miss the fanboy drama on the forums because it's hilarious. But most of me is glad we're not bringing that crap to the site directly. Or at least I hope not.

I will, however, continue to insist that people's hypocrisy when it comes to understanding the meaning of an "honest" review will forever sadden, infuriate, frustrate and sicken me all at the same time.

Seriously. The review's negativity IS what makes it honest, in a way. Because it's going against the grain and not just sucking up to the game publishers But, at the same time, it's not being deliberately negative, either. Just merely expressing the author's opinion of a game. If people actually READ reviews instead of just looked at the scores, they might be able to actually comprehend this. (And, I should say, read them without having their minds made up based on the score they saw or general tone of the review, but rather, reading and analyzing fully what the author is trying to argue.)

Of course, the majority people are idiots and we can't expect anything more from them than this, I suppose.

P.S. I am curious as to where the source article came from on Facebook. The one that all the negative comments are posting to. Since the one on HG's FB page are being deleted, I kind of assumed it was someone from HG itself that had posted the link to their page to draw the attention.

EDIT: What Will said. Hahaha.
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holdthephone posted November 02, 2011:

@CaptainHammer

Fair enough, I did dance around the fact that I do disagree with the review. It was just my attempt to take a step back because I didn't like how I was judging a review of a game I haven't touched. I did notice how we could tear UC2 apart on similar standards however, that's all I was trying to get across. How deeply those standards have been lowered is the issue this review addresses, and I suppose I'll reserve any further thoughts until I get my hands on the game.

But reviews are written for people who haven't played a game before, and the rage from facebook is completely rational since it's so rare we get a franchise that takes such an extreme downturn (e.g. Devil May Cry -> Devil May Cry 2). I understand their disbelief. If there's anything I could say, perhaps the review should of talked more about the dips in quality compared to Uncharted 2, rather than bring in Arkham Asylum, Dark Void, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc...

Unfortunately I won't have time for UC3 for quite a bit =[

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jerec posted November 02, 2011:

Nothing stopping you from joining the argument on the facebook side. :P
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deckardbr posted November 02, 2011:

I actually joined just to say how much I agree with the review. Though 4 is harsh (at least a 5 or 6 for graphics eye candy I say is abit better) I think the review is spot on in terms of the climbing and shooting parts of the gameplay.

I've always joked that this series was basically one where you press up and then shoot things. So it was nice to see someone agree with that after what I felt has been alot of overhype for a series that offers a very pretty but empty gamplay experience. And then after seeing the 10 review for Arkham City I think I found a new site for actual trustworthy reviews.

I will say the 5 on L.A. Noir is really off since the facial animation and story were so strong, can't be perfect I guess...
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Suskie posted November 02, 2011:

Favorite Facebook comment: "You sir are you bad of douche." Well, shit. Chick had better hang it up, then.
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Masters posted November 02, 2011:

...the rage from facebook is completely rational

I don't think it is. Let's get this straight: people get angry because someone who has played a game they haven't has an opinion on that game... and they feel they might not agree with that opinion, were they in a position to actually form one? It makes no sense. At all.

I understand their disbelief.

Disbelief, I can get behind. I get that it's hard to fathom how such a universally loved game could be followed up with something that's so... not good.

...perhaps the review should of talked more about the dips in quality compared to Uncharted 2, rather than bring in Arkham Asylum, Dark Void, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc...

I agree with this. The lack of comparing and contrasting to Uncharted 2 is where the review could stand to improve. But it's still a great review.
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WilltheGreat posted November 02, 2011:

I disagree. I rather like that the review tries to make Uncharted 3 stand on its own for the most part. Because frankly, sequels shouldn't have to be propped up by their predecessors.
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Masters posted November 02, 2011:

Propped up? You don't think comparing U3 to U2 while bashing it would have been helpful? That way, readers would know if the writer hates 3, or if the writer simply hates the Uncharted experience as a whole.
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holdthephone posted November 02, 2011:

@Captain

Fully agree with you there, it's just more helpful to use something the consumer is going to able to relate to. And in cases where you are going to make outside comparisons, your best resource is a game that is nearly a clone of the one you are covering. UC3 is obviously working off what made UC2 successful, instead of say, FF12 trying to work off what made FFX successful, lol.

Purely for the reader, is all. Every game should be rated on the design itself pursues though.
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WilltheGreat posted November 03, 2011:

Yeah, actually, those are both good points.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 03, 2011:

Holy crap! Has anyone taken a look at the hits on this review? Well over 12k in a day. It's funny how people say this was an attempt to gain hits. By making so much ado over the review, especially by tweeting it and sharing it to their friends on Facebook, they're the ones generating the hits.
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radicaldreamer posted November 03, 2011:

I can understand their disbelief too. But the idea that any, or even most, of those comments are rational is quite laughable.

I couldn't help myself from responding to some of those comments, even though I know it's a waste of time. It's just hard to believe that not only are there people like this, but that they actually seem to represent a majority of gamers. Sadly, it really makes me feel like game reviews are pointless if most of their audience is incapable of comprehending -- let alone appreciating -- differences of opinion.
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holdthephone posted November 03, 2011:

Well keep in mind that mainstream critics have conditioned readers into believing anything less than a score of 9 is a sub-par experience, and we have a game that has received very favorable reviews thus far.Although I see plenty of casual readers making fun of IGN's perfect 10 as well =p

Extremes attract, is all.
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Suskie posted November 03, 2011:

Hey RD, can we, um, lay off the personal attacks, please? Fanboys of this ilk are childish idiots. We're better than them, which is why we shouldn't be sinking to their level by saying stuff like that.
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WilltheGreat posted November 03, 2011:

I have to agree with Suskie on this one. Here, have a glass of sherry, old chap.

But seriously, I concur with Suskie.
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overdrive posted November 03, 2011:

The facebook comments were good for a laugh.
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TheMitchell posted November 03, 2011:

Ok, I've played Uncharted 3, so hopefully I can add something to this discussion without being trollish. I will say upfront that I'm a fan of the Uncharted series and strongly disagree with some points of Tom's review.

I really like Uncharted. I love Uncharted 2. I really like Uncharted 3.

Uncharted 3 feels like equal parts Return of the Jedi and Last Crusade (very aware I'm stealing from IGN). It feels a bit like a retread in some parts (particularly the ending) and you kinda had higher hopes for it, but it is absolutely still worthy of the name and I would say superior to the original Uncharted.

Gameplay wise, there have been little additions and refinements. The melee combat is more streamlined, with the addition of more varied combat animations, including environment based takedowns. Yes, it feels very similar to Arkham City's combat. But different in that Batman's combat is all about flow and effortless-ness, whereas Drake is, shall we say, haphazard. It can easily be mistaken as a "bargain bin" version of Rocksteady's freeflow system, but Uncharted's system is slower and more clumsy for a reason.

Another way they've tweaked the gameplay is by consistently throwing platforming curveballs at the players. While in previous entries, times when a ledge would break and drop you on a new path were small surprises, these become a gameplay mechanic in Uncharted 3, constantly throwing the player off balance and forcing them to adapt to their new trajectory. There's also much more gunplay while climbing, but it was very "eh" to me, not super enjoyable, but a nice diversion.

The visuals are abrudly good to the point of being photorealistic. While not the huge leap that was seen in Uncharted 2, they definitely took a big step. Faces are sharper, textures are smoother, edges are crisper. I really don't know how much more anyone could get out of this engine. For evidence of this advancement, all anyone needs to do is play the original Uncharted and gasp at the difference.

Finally, the story. I hate to say something like this, but I don't think Tom got the point of the story. The point of the story is that Drake doesn't really appreciate all that Sully does for him. Drake, LIKE THE GAMER, takes his relationship with Sully for granted. Does that mean Drake wouldn't do anything to help Sully? No, it means Drake doesn't really think about all the danger he puts Sully in, and whether or not it's fair of him to do so. It's Sherlock Holmes and Watson meets Indiana Jones and Sean Connery.

Uncharted 3 pushes the gamer to care less about the various plot points (Atlantis of the Sands, meh) and more about the characters. The game isn't about Drake finding the treasure, it's about Drake figuring out himself, what's really important to him, and why he does what he's doing. Maybe some wished that the villains were more fleshed out, but I feel that they were left underserved as a way to emphasize that this was about Drake and Sully and Drake. That is the real heart of the story.

And the thing with Elena. Well, they don't ever flat out tell you what happened between this game and the last. But if you can't figure it out from the BOUNTIFUL hints they drop, then you must be blind.

I hope this has been helpful as a well thought out(ish) counterpoint. I suggest everyone play the game themselves and come up with their own opinions. Somehow, I get the feeling that people are really going to vary in opinion.
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honestgamer posted November 03, 2011:

Thank you for taking the time to read Tom's review, and to consider his points. I wish that more people would do that. Your response was respectful and I believe you make some compelling arguments that make your perspective on the game easy to understand and appreciate.

A lot of people seem to believe that we post reviews here at HonestGamers as a way of trolling for hits. That's not true. We're big on meaningful discussion about games, typically in reviews. We rate games using the full 1-10 scale and we welcome diverse opinions on games. Thank you for making yourself a part of that process in this instance!
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WilltheGreat posted November 03, 2011:

Well said Jason. Well said.
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Masters posted November 03, 2011:

Hey, TheMitchell, your counterpoint post is better than a lot of reviews I've read for the game. You should think about (after a little revision) submitting it as such.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 04, 2011:

Thank you, TheMitchell. I will say that I like reviews that bravely challenge the norm, but I also like counterpoints that respectfully disagree. As everyone mentioned, you should consider revising and submitting that as a review.
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fleinn posted November 04, 2011:

I thought that was a really thorough and well written review. I was a bit pissed when I read the Eurogamer review, because it uses a huge amount of filler and weird canned language that doesn't fit with the score.

Then I played it myself, and thought it was much worse than the somewhat reserved reviews said. You can read my quick review of UC3 here, if you'd like.

This review goes into detail and explain exactly why the game falls short, though. In the way that you understand it's not some niggle or other that prompted a screed - it's just that the game doesn't hang together.

I mean, when I played this, I instantly started to hear this Lawrence quote in the background about how "all the revision in the world cannot save a bad first draft". And that's just how this game is. It's a hugely polished game on every turn, but every time you're playing or going somewhere you just don't know why. Like Tomchick says as well - there are gaps here with story that you're assumed to know about, but don't..
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Masters posted November 04, 2011:

Fleinn: I completely agree with you, and you've said it as succinctly and accurately as can be said--the game doesn't hang together, and no amount of window dressing can save what is a decidedly rickety foundation.
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fleinn posted November 04, 2011:

..not sure if it's window-dressing :p I mean, it's good work. All the effects, animation.. the sand is /really/ well done for example. The spiders are ridiculous (if copied from somewhere else - but now it's done in real-time, and not CG). Same with the rolling levels - this is incredibly good work (if obviously marred by that idiotic armored dude that takes 300 shots to kill.

It's like they pimped a car, had a great plan for a road-trip, a detailed map, everyone was hyped - and then they somehow just ran into every fence and through every corner of every building that wasn't explicitly drawn on it or something, and never came to where they decided in the first place. And then it just looks haphazard and random, even when some of the sequences really are extremely well done.

I enjoyed walking through the museum as younger Nathan, for example. That was great. And they have a thread in the story that is.. almost showing up. And then it disappears in.. something... I don't know.

It's like they are about to do something utterly brilliant at every turn. And then somehow manage to bury the playable parts in utterly generic sequences. The last "battle" for example, suddenly disappears in a cutscene. And instead of a slow and interesting cat&mouse game there, you just get the "goon AI with no self-preservation", along with more moving platforms where there is a 100% guided route to follow, unless you want to die, etc.

..you know why this annoys me? It's because they have a budget and effect tech that other developers can only dream about. And what do they do with their resources? They make /this/.
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Masters posted November 04, 2011:

You're arguing with me agreeing with you? Seriously?

I'm saying you can't polish something that's fundamentally unsound and expect brilliance. You know--what YOU said.
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fleinn posted November 04, 2011:

lol.. :p no, it's just that "window-dressing" makes it sound like the game is made up of small frilly details to cover up a broken foundation. It's more that it's just not put together well. The individual building blocks are extremely well made. That's what makes it all so annoying.
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TheMitchell posted November 04, 2011:

Just so you know, there are no random spawning enemies. Every enemy comes from the same place, every time. If that was a misquote there, I'm sorry. Your use of "scripted" and "random" in the same sentence threw me off.

Why is everyone hating so much on this game for no particular reason? I hear the same complaints ove rand over again.

"But sooner or later it degenerates into "white male Hero visits locations around the world and shoots his gun a lot", in blocked off set pieces - that for all the scripting has no real purpose or direction."

Ok, what did you expect from the game? Post-apcoalypse? Nate vs. Dragons? Watch Indiana Jones again. That's all it is. White guys fights bad guys and travels around the globe. That's the main focus of Indy, and its the same in Uncharted. If you're gonna get hung up on that, why not get hung up on the fact that Mass Effect is "White guy travels around the galaxy and shoots bad guys which devolves into boss battles and dungeons." Or Fallout is "Person travels around the Wasteland and shoots bad guys in an open world". Seriously, how is the above the game's fault? It's the main fricking conceit of the game.

"It should be a technically mindboogling set piece like nothing you have ever seen before. It should be as if watching a cutscene that you can control the events in. But what you see is a slightly mismatched sequence where the Hero has no goal, nothing to really walk towards - or any reason of any kind to have to walk across the ridge. And where your sense of direction is as muddled as Nate's."

The above is a quote in reference to the scene where Nate finds a well in the desert. Firstly, please proofread. And secondly, you're in the DAMN DESERT. YOU ARE LOST. THAT IS THE POINT!!! How can you're complaint be: "I was lost at this point" when you are supposed to be lost???

If you're saying the game doesn't have a clear goal, once again, you are missing the point. The idea is that you're supposed to question Drake's motivation for going after something like this, something so obscure and dangerous and out of the way that you say "WTF, Drake. This is stupid to go after." If you don't say that, the game isn't being effective.

"While hanging from a rope at the end of a truck-convoy dangling out the back of a cargo plane - what does the enemy soldier do? Scramble to climb back to safety? Oh, no - he fires his automatic rifle at Nate until he is pulled off.

He never runs out of ammo, either"

Last quote. This right here tells me all I need to know. If you are hanging there long enough to notice he doesn't run out of ammo, you clearly are missing the point of this game. Instead of "wow, lets see how long I can wait here while the guy fires off 800 rounds" you're supposed to be climbing up to get his gun! Any game will look bad when you accentuate its flaws. Its like if you were playing fallout and purposely ran your companion into a rock then, complained about their AI. See what I'm getting at?

Bottom line, stop acting like these "flaws" are actual things that hamper gameplay. They are built-in conceits of the game. Platforming, set-pieces, and fast action are what this game is about. If you want to complain the pacing is off, yeah, sure it is a bit. It's a video game, so the act structure gets muddled a bit. Honestly, I thought that the ship sequence was unnecessary from a plot standpoint. But it was a technically awesome sequence that was a blast to play. And it's also the sequence everyone seems to love. So don't complain about a muddled story and love the sequence where the story is muddled and the character advances not at all (more pointing at Tom than anyone else).

Seriously, I understand not everyone's gonna love this game. And I'm in a place where more people seem to dislike it than not. But you gotta judge it based upon genre and content. Don't expect it to be something it wasn't gonna be anyways.

Also, can someone who played the game please tell me what they couldn't figure out about Drake and Elena. It was absolutely plain as day to me. I mean, were you watching the cutscenes? Or did you just skip them all?
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Masters posted November 04, 2011:

lol.. :p no, it's just that "window-dressing" makes it sound like the game is made up of small frilly details to cover up a broken foundation.

Eh?

window dressing
noun
Definition of WINDOW DRESSING
1
: the display of merchandise in a retail store window
2
a : the act or an instance of making something appear deceptively attractive or favorable

C'mon son!
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fleinn posted November 04, 2011:

:p I know, I know. ..but see, the effects aren't deceptions. They really are unbelievably good. The problem is that outside the opening fight and a very short (but incredibly sweet) desert walk, the entire thing could just as well really have been a cutscene.

..seriously, though, I know it means the same thing. It's just that they have developed a set of 3d context tools here to let the player control a cinema quality scene in real time. There really isn't anything like this out there right now. And then ND basically asks you to play a script you don't know - perfectly - or you are going to die. They basically don't use the dynamic game-time effects for anything but extremely tightly scripted sequences. Uncharted had you wade through the submarine, for example, and choose the timing of the sequence. UC3 doesn't reach up to that..

@theMitchell:Ok, what did you expect from the game? Post-apcoalypse? Nate vs. Dragons? Watch Indiana Jones again. That's all it is. White guys fights bad guys and travels around the globe. That's the main focus of Indy, and its the same in Uncharted.

..apologies for hijacking the thread - this is about Tomchick's review. But.. I expected to have a goal of some sort. It's as simple as seeing an open window somewhere a few floors up (instead of having to leap randomly at the first and best ledge, while Nathan almost says word for word: "I'm going to randomly go and jump on things".. you know). Or having some sort of lever up on a ledge to climb towards during a puzzle. Or just seeing a constellation, or having any sort of point of reference when walking in the desert. It's those kinds of low-level design problems that turn up.

They did this so well in UC2 and UDF.. so why not this time?

I mean, Elena comments on it in the story. Sully comments on it in the story. "Why are you doing this, what do you hope to accomplish?". And Drake says nothing. Apparently he doesn't know either. He's just randomly finding things and doing stuff..

It was possible to avoid that when directing the game. That you had a perspective where you as the player would see a goal on the map. Or you would recognise something from a code or another location that would clue you in. That you were basically scouring the place from a completely different perspective than the rest. That's what the two previous games do so well - Nathan only has eyes for the clues and the treasure. You know, "Oh, I got to free Elena! ...and hey, what's this tower doing here with this stonework and that symbol, I got to find out... hold on Elena!" :D.. While the other people in the story have different points of view. UC2 has the resin and the maps, etc. Same thing - Nate only sees a clue - the other guys see a crypt and dead bodies everywhere.

You saw that so clearly while playing in the two other games. But in UC3 you can only spy it during the cutscenes. While the game-time is delegated away to.. a bunch of tightly scripted sequences with no real aim other than to go through them..

(I don't know - is that Amy Hennig's comment on the nature of video-games this time?)

p.s. ..and yes, the enemies in several of the maps are scripted to turn up behind you, when you cross a line, or you defeat the first set of enemies. I guess that doesn't make it random.. sorry about that..
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takanaro posted November 05, 2011:

You do things in life to be cool,,,and even if anyone on your site would back you up...You can't be the only person of all review to give such a low score.., That means you are the only cool person who would have integrity and spitting on everyone around you...Enjoy your fame and the fact that some people talk about you but if the owner of the site or anyone in your mod...have any sense of marketing or you want to continue to exist...well you know what you have to do. Marketing stunts is a great thing but for a gaming site called honest gamers and doing in sensationalism as your doing...Well that will be the end of your site

Honest Gamers RIP 11/02/2011 cause of decease Tomchicks

Oh yes enjoy the hits while it last :-) and also,,,any review you will do in the future from this site will be regarded as a joke,,,,it's sad as you have build up quite well in the past:-)
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pickhut posted November 05, 2011:

That last post made my head hurt...

Btw, so you're saying you thought the site was pretty good until it gave a low score to a game you think is good?

Fun Fact: I have yet to actually read this review that has garnered so much discussion.
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WilltheGreat posted November 05, 2011:

Stop using so many fucking ellipses.

EDIT: FOR THE LAST TIME WHY IS "FUCK" UNCENSORED BUT "GOD DAMN" IS?
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wolfqueen001 posted November 05, 2011:

Because Jason hates that word.

Anyway, everyone loling at HG's supposed "dishonesty" is completely misunderstanding the meaning of the word "honest" when it comes to reviews. Just because a review we host hols a minority opinion doesn't mean we posted it to draw in hits or stir the pot or anything else. It's just one person's opinion, for one thing. Had it been someone else who liked the game, we would have posted that review as well. And not heard any of this senseless bitching. Also, showing the 'downside' to a mainstream game in this manner adds variety to the internet and gives people a chance to get the FULL PICTURE of what a game has to offer. If these things aren't honesty, then I don't know what is.

But I do know that honesty isn't cooing to the masses and spouting happy crap every time something new and exciting comes along just to please everybody who notices. Frankly, I'm often of the opinion that the majority of 9/10 reviews for big-name games on other sites are spawned out of fear of disturbing this brainless mob of senseless people, as well as fear of alienating the publishers that sponsor them.

Of course, I don't even know why I'm arguing in this fashion. It's not like these people have the kind of intelligence to understand these points or anything we've discussed here. Or that they'll even care.
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fleinn posted November 05, 2011:

^ .. for example, that's the kind of honesty that got me fired a few times :D

But you're right. Even if you disagree with the review, it describes well why his opinion is what it is, and what it's based on. Not a controversy, just a good review.
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True posted November 05, 2011:

You do things in life to be cool,,,and even if anyone on your site would back you up...You can't be the only person of all review to give such a low score.., That means you are the only cool person who would have integrity and spitting on everyone around you...Enjoy your fame and the fact that some people talk about you but if the owner of the site or anyone in your mod...have any sense of marketing or you want to continue to exist...well you know what you have to do. Marketing stunts is a great thing but for a gaming site called honest gamers and doing in sensationalism as your doing...Well that will be the end of your site

Honest Gamers RIP 11/02/2011 cause of decease Tomchicks

Oh yes enjoy the hits while it last :-) and also,,,any review you will do in the future from this site will be regarded as a joke,,,,it's sad as you have build up quite well in the past:-)


I love how he's speaking as though an expert, but thinks that one review is going to end this place. He's apparently not aware of all the other catastrophic, stupid shit that goes on around here. I do. I'm the cause of 95% of it. 99%. Sorry.

And a negative review of an obviously over-hyped game isn't going to taint his integrity--at least not on here. Again, you have to do something far worse.

I'm just curious: Of all these outcries, how many people do you think have actually played the game and how many are so loyal to the series they automatically defend it--even without any sort of evidence he's wrong?

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zigfried posted November 05, 2011:

To this day, I still can't tolerate trolls who besmirch the fine name of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The entire world knows that was a classic piece of film-making. After all, The Wrath of Khan was great! How could the third be anything less?

//Zig
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WilltheGreat posted November 05, 2011:

That's a different case, Zig. The Rule of Even-Numbered Trek Films is a demonstrable phenomenon - or at least it was until 10(Nemesis) sucked and 11(the reboot) broke the cycle.

The Search for Spock wasn't bad, but it was bookended by The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home, which were much better films. Ditto with The Final Frontier and Generations. The odd-numbered ones just aren't as good.
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jerec posted November 05, 2011:

Not giving an Uncharted game a 10/10 is a way to lose all credibility.
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fleinn posted November 05, 2011:

"I'm just curious: Of all these outcries, how many people do you think have actually played the game.."

A much worse question is what this means about who read reviews. We kind of hope it isn't just... extremely engaged gamers, right?
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 05, 2011:

Leslie:
That's pretty much why I stopped commenting on Facebook. It's gotten to the point that people are subtly conceding the rational points while still standing on their rage-induced irrational ones. I've also noticed most critics siding with Tom, and rightly so.
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doomed_soul89 posted November 05, 2011:

Read more like a rant then a review, the only thing he said about the gameplay was that the shooting was great the rest was just a rant on how the gameplay didn't perfectly match up with the story (you know like in every other video game too...). So yeah a review that doesn't even talk in detail about the gameplay and spends several paragraphs bitching about the story is worthless.
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zigfried posted November 05, 2011:

That could also be a sign that the game spends too much time on the story, and not enough time on interaction or strong game mechanics.

//Zig
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WilltheGreat posted November 05, 2011:

Protip for winning internet arguments:

Read just enough of the thing you want to attack to remember a couple of words or points that they used. Then disregard the remainder of the work and attack what you think he was saying in the bits you disregarded.
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jerec posted November 05, 2011:

Harrison Ford disagrees.

< width="480" height="270" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/tI3tsWus2KQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></>
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doomed_soul89 posted November 06, 2011:

Zig, it's far more likely it's just a bad review. He's just ranting about the story not reviewing the game.
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wolfqueen001 posted November 06, 2011:

Jerk stole my avatar!
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 06, 2011:

At first I thought that was you being facetious.

EDIT:
If you disagree so much, doomed soul, there's nothing stopping you from submitting a review yourself.
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Suskie posted November 06, 2011:

Zig, it's far more likely it's just a bad review. He's just ranting about the story not reviewing the game.

He's ranting about how poorly the story and gameplay intertwine. It's a perfectly relevant complaint when the big draw of the Uncharted series is its theatricality.
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fleinn posted November 06, 2011:

..by the way - what's going on with the entire "my opinion is sound, because I use my real name when I write crazy things on the internet" thing going on in the facebook comments..?
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 06, 2011:

Just people grasping for insults rather than agreeing to disagree.
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fleinn posted November 06, 2011:

..sounds like a monster family reunion. Fifteen branches of spawn from someone no one knows, so everyone has a nametag. You randomly bump into people, and they say things like: "Hi, my name is Griselda Zorknot. And I have to say, I violently disagree with your choice in drinks! It makes you, in fact, a terrible human being! Goodbye!".

And then you move on to the next one.
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doomed_soul89 posted November 06, 2011:

wolfqueen001 changed it

JoeTheDestroyer Except for it not being out it yet. Also since it's not out yet I'm not claiming the conclusion is wrong (since I can't know though I very much doubt it is right) it's just the review seemed to ignore the majority of the gameplay elements in favor of bitching about the story for paragraphs.

Suskie I didn't say it wasn't a relevant complaint, I said he spent the whole review bitching about it and ignoring gameplay aspects which are far more important (especially since almost every single game has issues with story and gameplay intertwining).



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WilltheGreat posted November 06, 2011:

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zippdementia posted November 07, 2011:

People are starving in Africa. Just saying.
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TheMitchell posted November 08, 2011:

Why is him complaining about the story irrelevant? The story is the main aspect of the game. Dude it totally justified in complaining about the story.

I don't agree with his complaints, I feel the story meshes well with the gameplay an is a logical progression for the game. I don't agree with his complaints about it being linear/straightforward, but that's a different argument.
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kuddles posted November 14, 2011:

The facebook comments are hilarious. A review is a subjective article. That's it's entire point.

Go to Metacritic or a similar site. Reviews for movies are all over the place - BECAUSE THEY ARE SOMEONE'S OPINION. Reviews for television shows vary constantly too, as do music reviews. It's only in Game reviews where for some reasons fans want everyone's reviews to match. I don't even know why people even make claims that game reviewers are paid off by publishers, since those same people seem to always suggest that AAA titles "deserve" a 90+ Metacritic rating anyways and take a hissy fit if they don't.

Maybe to make it easier on Tom Chick, everybody should send what score he gives games ahead of time so he knows how much he's "supposed" to like it.
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honestgamer posted November 14, 2011:

All good points, kuddles. We definitely hear more complaints when people think we scored a game too low than we do when they think we liked a game too much. A lot of readers look at the average score on Metacritic as "the one truth," and the further you fall out of line with that score, the more corrupt you're supposed to be. Another problem is that we use the whole scale, not just the 7-10 portion, and that really throws a lot of people for a loop if they don't bother to read the actual text.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 14, 2011:

It seems a lot of people take a negative review as a personal attack on them as well. It's as though they think Tom is saying they're idiots for liking the game, even though he never said that. I've noticed this with other mediums of entertainment as well. Rotten Tomatoes gets its share of angry/brainless comments, as do Amazon and IMDb. I think part of it is the conditioning that everyone has mentioned, that people are too used to AAA games getting AAA scores without a second thought; but part of it as well is that people need to learn to let it go and not take it personally when someone slams your new flavor of the week.
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jerec posted November 14, 2011:

I've been seeing various comments around the internet that people have been disappointed with Uncharted 3, so it's not just tomchick.
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honestgamer posted November 14, 2011:

Tom Chick has a habit of realizing that a game is disappointing a couple of weeks before a large portion of the world's remaining population comes to the same conclusion. It happened with L.A. Noire, too, and probably others.
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taito2000 posted November 26, 2011:

After reading through this review, I registered on the site so I could respond to the review. It definitely reflects my feelings more than any review of UC3 I've read elsewhere. I initally thought 4 was a bit low, but after a second playthrough, 4 is just right.

It's so nice to see a site where, if it's truly a bad game, the reviewer can accurately explain why.
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honestgamer posted November 26, 2011:

Thanks for taking the time to register and to respond to this review. It's always good to hear from people who appreciate our efforts, who understand that a game review site needs to review the actual game, not serve as a hype barometer.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

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