Man, Uncharted 3 Can Be A Real Jerk Sometimes

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception has grace and class, wit and good humour, and a generally jovial demeanor. It's a fun game, too. But underneath its movie star good-looks and affable personality, this game has teeth.

Most of the lengthy singleplayer campaign is a well-paced, breezy adventure full of snappy writing and lovely visuals. But occasionally, Uncharted 3 will throw up an absolutely brutal difficulty spike. It's a problem. A previously empty room will suddenly be bristling with armed enemies as reinforcements streaming in from every corner, grenades flying rom every corner of the room. Sniper fire, rockets and tank-like heavy soldiers mete out some serious punishment.

You will die, and you will die often. And the kicker? After each death, your foes will laugh at your corpse. Despite its toothy grin and good sense of humour, sometimes I just want to punch Uncharted 3 in the nuts.

Taken on the whole, I would call Uncharted 3 "moderately difficult". It starts out surprisingly mellow, and doesn't explode into full-blown shootouts for five or six chapters. But once the enemies start coming at you en masse, so too do the difficulty spikes.

Take this scenario: I'm sneaking into a large theatre on board a pirate-run cruise ship. There are three guys patrolling the lower level, and I can't see onto the balcony. I take one guy out quietly, and go to take out a second when I'm spotted. Things get hairy in a hurry, and before I know it I see an armoured heavy working towards me with a shotgun. I shoot him about 20 times, and he keeps coming. I try to run away and he blows me away with a shotgun. As the camera fades to grey and Nathan Drake's lifeless body flies to the ground, I hear the jerk who killed me laughing. "Ha ha ha! I got him!"

Back to the top of the room again. I follow a similar pattern, head for cover in a different area once I'm spotted. Take out another guy and am going for cover when... I'm killed again. This time a jerk on the balcony laughs at me. "Aaaahahaha!"

I keep playing. I keep dying. I make it until a second wave comes into the room, this time with even more heavies, two snipers up top, a guy with a shield, four regular guards and nowhere to hide.

Every time I die, the shriek of that reedy horn, and the laughter.

"Ha. Got him!"

"Ha ha ha ha!"

"Ha. You lose!" [Extra swarthiness]

Sometimes, the laughter is drowned out by the horrified screams of Drake's friends. "Drake! Oh god no!" shouts Elena. "Nooo!" cries Sully, his surrogate son dead at his feet.

The kind of roadblock I'm describing happens a good half-dozen times throughout Uncharted 3's singleplayer campaign. The situations certainly aren't lazy -- a lot of thought has gone into deciding how these battles will play out. When they're at their best (including a great gunfight through a junkyard of floating ship hulls), they're wickedly entertaining -- challenging games of cat-and-mouse filled with shifting vantage points and dizzying verticality.

But often, there are simply too many enemies for a given space. Hordes of foes will line up at every available vantage point, and no cover is safe for more than a few seconds. Sometimes this helps keep things moving, but more often it's merely annoying, particularly when I'm forced into a laborious hand-to-hand Quicktime event while simultaneously being shot at by three different enemies. They're grenade-happy bastards, too, and no piece of cover is safe from being exploded.

Most of the game's big fire-fights begin with stealth segments. Drake sneaks into a room, or a warehouse, or a castle courtyard, and methodically takes down a few enemies. But sooner or later you'll be spotted and any hopes of gradually thinning the herd evaporate -- where there was one enemy suddenly there are two and then three! So many enemies, and so little space.

An encounter aboard a postage stamp-sized free-floating chunk of metal had me begging for mercy. I was in a shootout with four pirates in a space half the size of my apartment, and Drake's turning radius just couldn't keep up. I died over and over again, and each time I went down, it was to the sounds of my enemies' cruel laughter.

Having bad guys laugh at me after they kill me isn't fun, it's infuriating. It makes me hate you a little bit each time it happens. Have we learned nothing from the accursed snickers of the Duck Hunt dog? If you're making a mainstream, mass-appeal kind of game, don't have your characters mock us for not being good enough at it!

The fact that Uncharted 3 puts up a fight should be lauded. Too many big-budget games neuter their difficulty in order to cater to a wider audience. And of course, player ability factors into this. I'm perfectly fine at the game, but I'm sure there are people out there who played through the game without dying once. But all the same, those difficulty spikes are jagged, and their cheap-feeling kills stand in contrast to the rest of the game's often brilliant pacing.

Sometimes, Uncharted 3 is an interactive movie in the best way possible -- you sit back, relax and watch cool stuff happen on screen. Other times, it's like your older brother's charming, fun friend who likes to annoyingly bust your balls in front of his friends. It's a well-put together, enjoyable game. But sometimes, it's kind of a jerk.


Comments

    "I’m sure there are people out there who played through the game without dying once."
    No one could possibly play through their first time on normal and not die. The game is cheap. I love the difficulty of Dark Souls where I died because of me, but UC3 just seems unfair constantly.

      The worst part is when the enemies spawn directly on top of you...and one of them has a shotgun.

      The game punishes aggression while at the same time lobbing grenades at you every ten seconds. The addition of the grenade throw back is without doubt my favorite addition to the gameplay to relieve this some what.

      I agree, not necessarily because the game is cheap (or at least not yet, I'm still a bit early in the game I think), but because I've missed jumps heaps of times or accidentally jumped off edges.

      I originally found UC1 to be so cheap it was a joke.

    It is an absolute bitch sometimes. I actually found the last few chapters a bit tame...and i don't think its because i got better at it, either.

    Great final chapter, and a non-asshole boss battle unlike uncharted 2. Kudos.

      Totally agreed Matt. I'm glad they didn't do a gimmick boss finish like UC2. The story twists were very well done.

    Uncharted games are always guilty of a difficulty spike though. Uncharted 2's finale took me a good few goes to work out the best approach, then another serious handful to accomplish it. I laughed at one section of uncharted 3 where you face a wave of enemies that are all well armed but by game progression you are completely without weapons. Although it turned out alright, Im sure that would have been a serious headache on the highest difficulty setting.

    Settlement. Goddamn Settlement. The rest of the game was somewhat hard in parts, but I could get through it on normal. Except for one part. One goddam section - ONE SPECIFIC fight in Settlement. I couldn't get through it on Normal. I tried 20 times. I busted it down to easy. Still died 10 times. I had to shamefully turn it down to Very Easy, at which point the game became an absolute joke before I could get through that section. The rest of the game, even the last chapters I could do fairly well on Normal Difficulty. It was just that ONE part of settlement that infuriated the hell out of me. I have NO IDEA how ANYONE could beat that chapter on Hard.

    The pirate levels at first seem too hard, but then you realize that you can just dive and stay underwater a lot to get back your health. That's how I beat it on Normal - I'd kill one dude, then immediately jump into the water and circle round until I could kill another dude.

    It's just that one goddamn fight I could beat. Goddamn Settlement. Goddamn it to hell. And because I had to set it to Very easy to get past that damn fight, despite beating the rest of the game on Normal, the game still won't give me a trophy.

      Korolev- I can't even work out which fight you mean. I don't think I even died in Settlement on Hard (but don't ask me about the fight to get in to the final city). Maybe it's one where the restart makes the whole thing harder? I came across the same thing as Pakka in the shipyard- after dying, I got restarted in a bad spot (I used the nearby RPG to nail a turret then shot a guy and made a run to climb up to the turret in the far corner- a very defensible spot).

      Wait - Korolev, is it the one with the structure in the middle with red pillars? Shoot out the pillars.

        Oh. Well. Now I know. Thanks. I was wondering how to get past that section.

    Inside the cruise ship is THE worst - as was the pile of stranded ships.

    I think the article is referring to the part inside the cruise ship where for me; I took out the guy sitting on the crate quietly and there are about 3 guys down below. Once you're noticed, suddenly there are like 5 or 6 guys including 2 armoured guys. I luckily had a grenade launcher so naturally took them out without a hitch.

    Making your way down the stairs you can then see the balcony and there are 3 snipers, a guy with a grenade launcher and some other guys. Then two more armoured guys come at you with shotguns.

    MY problem was that when i died it loaded me into a DIFFERENT position on the opposite side where the cover wasn't particularly great and where I WAS there was ammo lying on the crates. I gave up and took a breather from frustration - haven't yet gone back but it can the biggest pain sometimes.

    God love it though!

    Same thing happened with the pile of ships. I started of being stealthy and out of no where some guy spotted me from an opposite ship. I died and when it loaded it started with me behind a crate, where I NEVER was and the pirates already alerted by me. Pretty rough when I took out half the enemies silently and forced to battle the rest guns blazing where its more difficult taking out the guys near the armoured machine guns!

    I assume this is a reference to the concert room on the ship. It was a bit of a bugger.

    I got to say, though, I just beat UC3 on hard, I hardly play shooters at all (as my lousy attempt at the multiplayer proved) and I didn't really notice the laughter thing or get frustrated by having to do a handful of fights over again.

    The bits I found annoying are the run and jump to escape bits, as they tend to be very finicky about where you step and you can restart, die, restart in 5 seconds without knowing what you did wrong. Thankfully fewer this time than last.

    Question - how does UC3's difficulty compare with 1 & 2?

    Those two were relatively easy to platinum.

    Honestly I was hoping they'd tone down the amount of gunfights this time around, they were so excessive in Uncharted 2 toward the end that I began to get bored in addition to frustrated. Sounds like they've gone the other way.

    It's kind of incongruous how our loveable rogue is also a mass murderer.

      I agree! I love the series but I would have enjoyed some more headache inducing puzzles and less gun fighting.

    Finished the game on Normal with no particular problems in Eight and a half hours or so. Few difficult moments, but nothing I couldn't get past after a few tries and changes in approach. I wouldn't want to get through a game without dying once - what's challenging about that?! Playing through again on Hard now, I'm up to the end of Syria and so far it's not been too difficult either. Those demons are going to be a pain though, I can already see that.

    Oh man, glad I wasn't the only one in frustrationsville in that theatre room on the ship. I Was getting REALLY angry and that damn little death music ditty was tipping me over the edge. I wanted to kick it in the balls too.

    Sometimes guys take an entire ak47 clip to go down. The gunplay was the most annoying part of the game. Having said that, I enjoyed the game immensely except for a few spots here and there.

      I've been out of gaming regularly, for awhile. But uncharted 2 got me back into gaming more. so as before UC3 came out i checked out and took down UC1. i've had a ps3 for a few years now but have mostly used it for nextflix and a few games here and there. but the quallity of the graphics and fun mix uncharted has has me excited again for games and the quallity coming very soon after :) oh but in the many years i've been away from gaming my roomate is and was playing massive amounts of games on his 360 so i've seen the major games that have come out. by far the most well balanced in all aspects. I don't beleive a good majority of people should be able to fly through a great game that is a shooter in parts. without dieing. thats only my humble opinion. I do say though that arkom has better facial renderings than UC3. everything else of the body and on it is awesomely real looking :) You all have fun and hoping for a UC4. lol

      Up to the sandstorm chapter on Crushing now - not finding it that hard. I agree with others though - it's not as good as UC2. The story was so obviously written to provide context for already devised set pieces - sometimes this approach works, but in this case it doesn't. The story just doesn't flow that well and there's a few pretty but essentially underwhelming moments (the chases and the aeroplane in particular). The end is also virtually the same as the first two games, and there's much less bonus material this time round, which is disappointing. The ship sections are by far the best part of the game, but they make very little sense in context of the rest of the story. Hopefully Naughty Dog will take a step back for UC4 and remember the importance of the story driving the action, rather than the other way around.

    I have to say my TV must suck because that picture looks awesome but my TV bites the big one. i wanted a sony a few years ago. but had to settle for a cheeper phillips 42" 120ghz... sigh

    After finishing it I have to say Uncharted 2 was far better. I thought this game was shorter and had much worse story. Settings were alot better in 2 aswell. Think this game was seriously overrated.

    I completely agree this sandstorm level is BRUTAL!

    I tend to agree - Uncharted 2 was better. This iteration feels like a Matthew Reilly novel. I also felt that I'd seen most of it before - in the previews from E3 et al - and the only new sights were the scenes in Columbia, and final city (there may be others, but the best areas in the game were already previewed before the game shipped).

    I played through uncharted 2 a couple of days before 3 arrived and as far as I'm concerned 3's the better game. Uncharted 2 wasn't as good as I remembered it 2 years back. Maybe that's the problem as a couple of years can give people rose tinted glasses.

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