David Jaffe Talks Uncharted 3 Reviews (And Talks Sense)

Despite the fact that I'm a huge fan of the Uncharted series, this Eurogamer review was by far my favourite of the slew of reviews published yesterday. It was the kind of review I was talking about when I said games writing needed more dissenting voices — yet some fans got a little bit angry at the 8/10 score. David Jaffe wrote a lengthy blog on the issue, and it made a lot of sense.

For context I suggest you read Eurogamer's original review, which fairly criticises issues with the Uncharted series that I've heard many raise — including ex-Kotaku editor David Wildgoose. Until now I've never heard those issues raised in a review in a fair and just manner. I found it extremely refreshing.

So, apparently did David Jaffe.

As for U3, I've yet to play the campaign mode, but I played the beta over the summer and really liked it; I enjoyed it more than 99% of human based shooters on the market. And I'm sure I'll love the U3 campaign when I pick it up next week (just as I've loved the earlier Uncharted games).

BUT…

…Eurogamer's conclusion/criticism about games that are super heavy on the 'experience' at the expense of the 'play' (like they claim Uncharted 3 is and like- by my own admission- GOD OF WAR 1 is***) is wonderfully thought out and presented and the only reason it's been labeled 'controversial' has nothing to do with the review itself and everything to do with the sad state of game consumers who have been so effectively conditioned by a number of the gaming press/gaming PR machines that these gamers leap to a title's defense-not that this gem of a game needs defending- without even being open to the reviewer's criticism (be it valid or not). That's tragic. What's even more tragic is I would argue the games medium itself has been damaged by this practice. Irrevocably? No. But it has taken its toll for sure.

So there's that.

BUT…

Besides having some great insight, what's great about the Eurogamer review is that it manages to be both positive and critical at the same time (Garsh! Wonder of Wonders! How'd they do that?!?!)

It doesn't bash U3 at all (for to do so would just be trolling for hits since it's clear there ain't a thing in U3 that is bash worthy) and it clearly sings the game's many wonderful praises and achievements. But it does call out what some people consider a fundamental flaw in many of today's console titles where making 'cinematic experiences'**** seems to have become a more important goal than making games. And it's nice to see that level of criticism and insight in games journalism, especially with a game as hyped and anticipated (and as amazingly great) as Uncharted 3. How refreshing that a great, hyped, and soon-to-be much loved game can be praised while at the same time intelligently and non mean-spiritedly criticized for what a reviewer thinks (agree or not) are genuine issues. Wow, that's just like big boy writing! And I love it! :)

And then later, he discusses the idea of calling an 8/10 review controversial in the first place.

Amazing this review is the one being called 'controversial'. To me, the 10/10 review that either mentions the flaws of the game and still gives a perfect score OR the review that doesn't mention the flaws at all (an even worse crime, assuming the reviewer thought there WERE flaws) is the true controversial review. Gamers that don't see this as a problem need to wake up to the PR machine cause the Matrix has you.

Can't say I disagree with a single word being said.


Comments

    I read his post this morning and I wanted to stand and applaud. What a champion... except for the whole Kratos fatality thing. That was a bit raw.

    Eurogamer reviews are the glass half full reviews of the internet,they gave dead island and mafia 2 both only 4/10 and I loved both of those games.They just gave Battlefield 3 a mark of 8/10 and some people claim they give high profile games low marks just to make a name for themselves.
    I READ their reviews and then one by IGN or someone and sort of average out their score in my head because some sites give out 9.5's and 10's like crazy.
    Actually it's more like the glass is half full and broken and I just cut my lip and chipped a tooth...

      Did you know the scale is from 1 - 10, not 8 - 10. You are conditioned, and clearly read too many sites which dont use the full scale. Eurogamer aren't the problem, but you are clearly conditionedto think so. They have no oblication to email you personally, as to not offend by giving a game a score you dont approve of.

      Wait people are in a tissy because they think 8/10 is a low score?

    I've noticed that star ratings tend to be more accepted, ie. most will play a game with 2 stars, but not one with 4/10. Shows how skewed the /10 thing is.

    If you go to Gamespot and watch the video review, the entire page is being flooded with comments saying that a 9/10 is a terrible score.

    Seriously, wtf?

      Saw the same thing on IGN even before the game was released like the game 'had' to get a 10 or 'else' (else of course being nothing being the internet and all).

      The fanboys love to hold the scores over their respective consoles as indication of which console/pc is best. Simple solution, take a game on just its merits and remove the scoring.

    There shouldn't be any numerical ratings to reviews.

      I agree!

      I rate this comment 3 Dolphs and a Van Damme!

    The entire problem is the rating at the bottom. If he just posted the review with no numerical score attached there would be no problem.

    But as soon as you attach a number to it then the fanboys get out the measuring tape and start comparing it to other reviews and games and getting into a hissy because they feel the score doesn't reflect the review, the game or whatever.

    In other words it's all a problem stemming from our obsession with trying to impart a empirical value to a subjective experience.

    This is more or less why arbitrary ratings out of 5 or 10 just don't make sense. A game can be worth purchasing even if it's not a perfect 10 but people see such absolutes as necessary and it's a terrible habit for people to feel the need to defend (often with rage and bitterness) any game they think 'deserves better'.

    Kind of why I took to reading Rock Paper Shotgun when it came to game reviews - lack of a score system and more a general description of how playing the game is and how it 'feels'; elements which are much more resonant as to whether I bother or not.

    This is why I don't read reviews anymore. Instead, I ask people I know who have played it. MUCH MUCH more reliable. :P

    Good write up jaffe. The reliance on a 8-10 scale by many sites is why I like reading Jim Sterling's reviews. His reviews are well written and he uses the full 1-10 scale giving a game a 3 or a 5 and properly justifying it in the review.

    As a result of this he is often criticized as been a troll which is unfortunate. A good example is his Vanquish review.I love the game but the concerns he brought up were valid.
    As a fan of a game it is important to know that despite your love for a game it may have some problems and it just depends on how much these issues impact your experience.

    This article doesn't make a lot of sense... in no way does Uncharted (or any other cinematic masterpiece such as MGS) favour it's cinematic experience over its core gameplay.

    And really, is that one of his criticisms? A whim which has nothing to do with the product itself? He's taking jabs at Uncharted for being unique and using a general consensus to complain? A whim in which he feels the cinematic aspect has taken a lead role? Please... I'm not saying it is perfect, nothing is, but his points mean jack, they are just the signs of an awful review.

    It wouldn't be so bad if the games weren't fucking outstanding in their execution of the cinematic experience.

      Just because you don't feel the same way as somebody else (and your opinion seems to be in the minority, by the by), doesn't mean that person's opinion is wrong. And while we're talking opinions, while I personally feel that you raise a valid point about Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid's handling of the cinematic experience (and I happen to enjoy both game series in regards to this aspect), your claim that certain situations where control is taken from you while Drake does something cool and outside the scope of your moveset, or quite long cutscenes in Metal Gear where all your exposition happens outside of player context (instead of dynamically occurring during the actions of the player), does not come at the expense of gameplay at times is not something I can agree with. Hell, Kojima himself has stated that MGS4 was designed to be more linear than previous games in order to allow them to craft a cinematic story in a way that got players to follow it with few deviations.

    I haven't read any reviews on this game. Uncharted 1 was great, Uncharted 2 was great. So I'll be getting this regardless.

    I had a read of the review in question, and while i understand what he is saying I think the problem is that he seems to want the Uncharted series to be something that its not, more of an open world type of styled game where the player has more direct control of the character is the closest i can think of. The Uncharted series has become what it is because its a linear story driven action title where total control of the character would break the whole sense of what the developers are trying to achieve.
    Just like every movie can't give the same experience neither can every game. Its like trying to get a family drama experience out of Aliens, its not going to happen because its not what the director intended.

      +1. Some of the more reasonable responses are along the lines of:

      "8 out of 10 is good, but you've basically said you've taken two points off the game for reasons that could be leveled at most major releases this year."

        Could and SHOULD have been leveled at most major releases this year.

        The answer isn't giving more 9s because most other games have the same problems, it's giving more 7's and 8's because most other games have the same problems.

        If we're giving perfect or near perfect scores then we are suggesting there's no room for improvement, and that leads to creative stagnation. The game industry needs more honest and critical appraisals of its creations, not people saying near enough is good enough.

          Agreed - I don't care so much about the score, I'm just curious why Uncharted is being singled out when a huge number of other games do the exact same sort of hand holding. I also question whether its such a bad thing if the end result is a thrilling, worthwhile experience.

            My major concern about Uncharted is actually at odds with my concerns with every other game out there. With other games, I hate that all the scripted events get in the way of the gameplay. With Uncharted I get annoyed when the gameplay gets in the way of the spectacle. It's strange.

            But the Uncharted franchise is amazing for so many reasons, it's graphics are the best on consoles and I say that having owned an xbox 360 exclusively up until this year. It's storytelling methods (even if the story isn't all that deep) are unrivaled. The voice acting is superb. But the game itself? It's frustrating, repetitive, and the platforming is significantly better than the gunplay and it's still tedious and unfair most of the time.

            I would give the first Uncharted 7/10 and Uncharted 2 8.5/10. People get all distracted by the flashiness and don't realise the gameplay is the most important yet the least enjoyable aspect.

      Agreed. I think a game should always be reviewed for what it is as opposed to what it's not. FFXIII is an example. The FF series had built a reputation for being an open world with tonnes of stuff to do. The huge penalty FFXIII got was understandable. The Uncharted series has always been an on the rails rollercoaster and Naughty Dog do linear stupidly well. I don't think it's something they should be penalised for.

    I read the review and thought it fairly addressed the main aspects of the game worth considering.

    Then they chucked a number on the end and that started to ruin the effect a little.

    On the actual point that the Eurogamer review was making, railroading players is something I really dislike seeing in a game if they screw it up in a way that makes it obvious that the player's input is not really necessary.

    Uncharted 3 apparently does that, which is very worrying because I felt like Uncharted 2 really balanced that line quite well. I knew that there were points where the game was basically taking control to be more cinematic but I never felt like my own input was unnecessary.

    MGS4 is probably the game I like to use as an example of them doing it wrong. Towards the end there is a dramatic scene where players have to mash triangle to do a certain action. I realised that the cutscene playing alongside this section (it splits the screen to show the action going on that doesn't involve Snake) meant that there probably wasn't any need for the player to do anything. Lo and behold, not pressing triangle didn't change anything, it all went exactly the same.

    Most players consider that a very dramatic moment where if they didn't hit triangle fast enough they'd fail. For me, it was the moment where the curtains fell down and I saw the man backstage pulling the strings.

    Here's hoping it isn't as obvious in Uncharted 3. I'd hate for a perfectly good game to be ruined by something like that.

      Naughty Dog has an excellent track record with linear, guided adventures, starting with Crash Bandicoot on the PS1. I really have to question this review, if only because I've heard no other reviewers say they felt like they were rail-roaded. My take is that they may not have been that keen on the linearity of the other games.

        Until I play Uncharted 3, I can't say if the review was correct about those aspect detracting from the game or not.

        Naughty Dog definitely has a good enough track record for me to give them the benefit of the doubt but the general tone of the complaints don't seem entirely unreasonable.

        ummm, That's exactally what he said. He wasnt keen on the trend of games that play themselves heavily, and stated that in the review. I wonder if you actually read the review or just went straight to the number. And the reviewer is a human being with personal tastes, and GOD FORBID someone have a different opinion.
        It's pretty shallow to say that mass opinion makes his one wrong. Sounds like a facist regime to me.

          No need to get all wound up. I did read the review and I wasn't that concerned by the number (like you said, its all subjective opinion anyway). I didn't say the reviewer was wrong, merely that I questioned it - as in I want more information.

          The description sounded much like the prior games, which I don't agree gave a sense of playing themselves (though they literally did at times). I think "sense of control" is more important than "actual control", which might sound strange, but I'd prefer a tightly scripted heart-pounding experience to meandering player-driven experience any day of the week.

          If it wasn't clear, I was only attempting to explain why I'm going to give the game the benefit of the doubt until I play it.

    Eurogamer reviews I find to usually be spot-on, at least for me, and as long as they're not reviewing a JRPG which one of their regular reviewers seems to have a pathological hate for. They tend to be a lot more balanced and games that get up into the 9s and 10s are the ones that really deserve it.

    Further proof that the only critic worth listening to is metacritic.

    Scores are for lazy people who refuse to read. I say ditch them entirely.

    Read the article someone has worked hard to write and you will get an idea of whether the game is worth the cash.

    No more x/10, no more stars, and no x/100. There, I solved this bullshit.

    Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant. That's all I have to say.

    I give the eurogamer review 10/10, Jaffe gets 3.5 out of 5, and serrels gets three ticks and a thumbs up.

    His criticisms (the reviewer's, I mean) are perfectly valid, but I can't help feeling that he put the 8/10 to attract more attention from readers. I'm not saying that it's absurd that a game like Uncharted 3 could score that low, just that overall (like Kotaku points out) his review is largely a positive one, and it doesn't read like an 8/10 score. Not to mention, the very same person reviewed the recent addition to the Ace Combat series and gave it an 8/10 as well. Although reviews aren't meant to necessarily be weighted comparatively (especially between two games that dissimilar), but I find it pretty hard to believe that after he finished playing through Uncharted 3 and was mulling over what he felt would be an appropriate he score, his eventual decision was that the game had earned the same score that he gave to Assault Horizon -- a game that has widely been accepted as, well "less-than stellar."

    Just my two cents.

    As Ebert once said "Thumbs up and Thumbs Down means noting...its all about the context of a review and what is being SAID about the film/game/book/piece of music in question"

    Numbers don't mean anything and I really don't understand the investment people have in numbers...an opinion is an opinion, and that is all a review is. Read the review instead of looking at a useless number.

    His criticism is somewhat fair, I love the Uncharted series, but they really are (at times) "on rail cinematic adventures"...I enjoy that personally about the Uncharted series, I think that's what stands out for me...but I can understand why some people feel the need to be critical of that.

    To be honest, IGN's 10 out of 10 is the review I feel suspect off. Especially it came from Greg Miller (lets never mention the god awful Dead Space 2 that felt like it was written by an over excited 9 year old kid)

    Anyways I'm sure I will love Uncharted 3 as much as I loved the past 2 games...but I think the investment in the "number" scoring is just inane.

    The redundancy and uselessness of 'Scored reviews' is a well trodden path that the industry hasn't evolved beyond, unfortunately, despite its own best defense of the use of said systems. So it makes me laugh when ratings are described thus:

    "4.0/4.5 - Bad
    Something went wrong during development and this egg went a little rotten. There's nothing worse than a game that ends up as "bad" on our scale, because it usually means there was some potential that the developer couldn't live up to."

    Really? 'Nothing worse' than a game that ends up as a 4/10?

    And then there is elements of reviews like this:

    "These demerits, which include things like "Slideshow" for games with unstable frame rates and "Xtreme Baditude" for games that try way too hard to be in your face, will also give you more detailed information, right at the top of every review."

    Yep, nothing elucidates how in 'my face a game' is than an 'Xtreme Baditude' badge.

    The press side of the industry has a long way to go before it is worth lamenting any more the feebleness of X/10 scoring when the above are contemporary examples of the baselines being worked within. But damn, when the producers themselves are not above this level of carry on (ala stoking the flames of fanboyism during the buildup to BF3 and COD releases, by EA in particular - not totally coincidental that the TV spots for BF3 are full of review quotes is it?) what hope do we have?

    how about a link to the original jaffe article? this is the internet you know. i had to spend 30 seconds searching for it, and 60 writing this

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