I really am spoiling you lot with the level of posting on this blog as late. It is positively snowing high quality bloggage around here. Let us see whether this continues into – I don’t know – the second half of January? Anyway, to the matter. The latest game wot I have played is Uncharted 3, and it’s a humdinger. I’d have to place it 2nd in the games of 2011, which was an excellent year for games, as it goes, just behind Skyrim, although the two are difficult to compare, in a way, since Skyrim gave me about 100 hours of pleasure and Uncharted 3 gave me, well, perhaps 20. I don’t feel sore about that, particularly, it’s just an observation. In fact the comparison between Uncharted 3 and Skyrim is an instructive one because they are in many ways polar opposites in their design and approach. Skyrim presents a massive open world and lets you do as you will. Uncharted 3 presents a strictly limited world and you have to do what it wants you to, with the occasional illusion of choice. Skyrim’s gameplay is a little bit hokey, lumpy, and jerky round the edges. Uncharted 3 is slicker than Slick McSlickerson. Everyone’s experience of Skyrim will be utterly unique. Everyone’s experience of Uncharted 3 will be utterly the same. Skyrim is filled with hundreds of rather bland and unmemorable characters with slightly rubbish dialogue and no sense of humour. Uncharted 3 has a few beautifully designed and animated people with sparky and believable relationships and cheeky one-liners. Skyrim is as long as you want, but it can get kind of repetitive. Uncharted 3 only has so much to offer, but that’s packed with incident and event. You see what I’m saying, or must I labour the point some more? It doesn’t happen often, so once I’ve found a point I really like to give it a hammering.
Anyway, Uncharted really does exude personality, and captures that devil-may-care, Indiana Jones light adventure vibe better than anything else going. A lot of that is in the beautiful animation of the lead character and the way he interacts with apparently unimportant parts of his surroundings just as you run past, the offhand quips and panicky noises he makes during combat, it all creates a magnificent sense of involvement with the world. And the character work, acting, cut-scenes are pretty much industry leaders to my mind. You get some truly stunning set pieces, fleeing through a burning chateau as it collapses around you, or through an ocean liner as it capsizes, poseidon adventure styley, camera swooping cinematically to cover the desperate action. I found myself frequently chortling with delight. Possibly even more so than when organising my inventory on Skyrim…
23 comments so far
Your going to have to get back to writing one of these days, Joe. If you want the awards and accolades to continue:) I mean, how are you going to reach GRRM master of the universe status if you take a really long time putting out books…oh wait…on second thought, one every 2 years is just fine:) How bout this. Write hard until ME3 comes out. Because we all know that will be the end of all free time for a good while!
Writing? Nah, that was way too much like hard work.
Just finished Uncharted 3.
I enjoyed it visually but found the whole thing lacking the thrill of the previous games.
Tempted to give Batman AC ago.
Also just to say ‘The heroes’ was absolutely epic.
I thought I enjoyed your previous books but ‘The Heroes’ was brilliant, I’m still not sure who are the good guys (if any) but I love the characters, even if they only live for a matter of pages.
Joe, that’s absolutely true. Besides, we all know your writing was merely a means to an end.
That end being spending your days playing video games while ensconced on a giant pile of cash, right?
Piles of cash are SO much more comfortable than you’d think. There’s a reason dragons use ’em.
I’ve never found Elder Scrolls games interesting or fun. Next to zero characterisation, dull combat (Fallout is so much better in this regard), generic world-building, crappy quests. And if I ever have to enter one of those cut-and-paste dungeons again I’ll kill 18 innocent children.
I love the Uncharted games, especially because they have a sense of humour which seems to be sorely lacking in the majority of games. But Uncharted 2 seemed longer and had more variation than the third. Uncharted 3 was still great, but Naughty Dog didn’t live up to their predecessor in my opinion.
My son has spent that long sitting on his bean bag in front of Skyrim that he may well have to face a surgical procedure. He, and the students I teach all seem to love the game. They have all commented on the fact that you can (apparently) finish the main story arc but still explore, kill and generally … erm … “quest”. As a long-time rpg-er (I *can* remember the old red D&D box) I still find console and pc games a little limiting but … Skyrim does seem to be one of the better I’ve tried to play in it’s “each-players-experience-is-different”.
Joe, if you were only allowed to play one of either Skyrim or Uncharted 3, which would you pick?
Agreed with you on both games. Although, my top three is slightly different. 1. Arkham City 2. Skyrim 3. Uncharted 3. Now that you have finished the games, more writing, pleeasseeee (at least until The Last Of Us comes out!).
I’ll probably wait until the inevitable platinum edition to get it (as per the previous two instalments). The Last Of Us could be pretty interesting. I can take or leave apocalyptic scenarios, but it does look intriguing.
I fear that with Mass Effect 3 coming out shortly (March) we might be waiting yet longer for A Red Country.
Fear is to be expected, you swine Joe for conditioning us so!
This thrills me. Uncharted is awesome, Abercrombie is awesome. Too much awesome!
If there’s ever a First Law game, there better be a level where you play as Glotka and the only goal is to get to the top of a long staircase.
I’ve heard that complaint about being inferior to number 2. Didn’t necessarily feel that way. I feel number 1 had the best plotting, the villains weren’t great in 3 but better than 2, I felt, where he was really off the peg humourless balkan strongman. And number three just had such amazing set pieces…
Long time RPGer myself. One thing you get with Skyrim, no more endless arguments over who’s going to GM…
I’d put Arkham City well behind those other two, but still a good game.
You’ve forgotten that I’m going to have to replay the other 2 mass effects first…
You can never have too much awesome.
I’ve watched my other half play all of the Uncharted series now, and I have to say they really are amazing to watch, though as for the playing.. other than Dead Rising 2, I’ve never seen him more annoyed at any game at recent years. The jerky camera, the instant death if you don’t run in exactly the right direction at exactly the right time, the bosses that can’t be killed until the cutscene tells you so..
The Uncharted series are awesome indeed, but I can’t help but feel like they should be making an animated film rather than a ‘click when we tell you to’ semi-interactive game.
Did you find any parts of the game particularly unplayable (i.e. instant death over 10 times in one section of the game with absolutely no link to your capability at game playing)? My Man had endless trouble with the ‘hazy’ desert set piece with Mr ‘I Can’t Be Killed For Some Unknown Reason But I Can Kill You In One Shot, and P.S. You’ve Already Seen Me Before On The Ship Level’. He also particularly despised the climbing up the side of the boat section while things fall at you, and you draw your weapon to shoot.. but the camera changes angle, and you can’t aim, and you try again and fall hopelessly to your death a zillion times because you can’t see what you’re doing, and aren’t pressing the right buttons because the camera keeps moving around so fast it’s making you feel seasick….!
I’m not knocking the game, but let’s be honest.. Uncharted stopped being a ‘game’ after the first one was so successful. The admission of the fact they create their set pieces first, and the story afterwards *really* showed up a lot of flaws in Uncharted 3. A bit of a shame, I have to say. I’ll be disappointed if they make a 4th.. until I remember how amazing they are to watch, and then I’ll buy it, and remember how much I fall out with the Man for him getting frustrated at the terrible camera and amount of QTE and cutscenes there are in the game..
Some gamers are never happy.. although he’ll go back to playing his Dark Souls, Skyrim, and Battlefield 3, and I’ll curl up with my middle-aged Ezio in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Bliss!
Oh, why, Why, WHY did you have to mention those games?
My lady has me on a tight leash because of gaming addiction. For three years I’ve been sober. I even ditched the Windows PC in favour of Mac in an attempt to reduce the temptation even further. There was Assasssin’s Creed in the meantime (only played the first), Mafia 2, now these… Couldn’t you just be a nice fantasy author and write about releases, conferences, fellow authors and all that?
I’d say ‘keep it coming’ were it not so painful.
Can’t say I’ve found Uncharted to be unreasonably frustrating – if anything I’d say it’s too forgiving. There are a couple of chase sequences where you can die pretty easily and they’re a little tiresome but there’s rarely much replaying to do. Whether what you do in the game makes that much difference is a fair point, but generally I think the combat plays pretty nicely. Can’t say I had the camera issues. Demon’s Souls, on the other hand, has to be one of the most frustrating games of all time…
I tend to spell it without the ‘e’, but have it your way…
I feel us pc gamers are bing excluded and adding to the fact you are supposed to be working on our next book – this whole post is a lose/lose!!
Well, tell that to the guys at the said Nevada casino, they neglected the finer aspects of spelling when they named their establishment.
Debbie, you are my personal hero.
Heroes was a great book BUT The First Law Trilogy is still the best books I have ever read…. I have to ask, will we see 9 fingers again?
AND Skyrim is awesome.
Good review! Great idea to contrast two highly praised adventure games of the previous year that couldn’t be further apart in content. Loved the second installment in Uncharted, but unfortunately I don’t have the console to indulge in the 3rd.
You’ve forgotten that I’m going to have to replay the other 2 mass effects first…”
Reminds me that I’ll need to do that same. Dammit, I need better time management in order to get all this leisure in. Not enough hours in a day, truly.
Skyrim and Unchartered 3 are my favourite games of the year too. Skyrim, just nudging it for me for the variation and freedom. PS3 release of Mass Effect 2 was utterly brilliant and took up way too much of my time. Dragon Age 2 was fun, but a bit of a disapointment from the first with the copy and paste dungeons and caves that kept getting re-used and the feeling of a stretched out story just to fill in the gaps.
I really hope they work their arses of to make a Dragon Age 3 that combines the good things about DAO (Character and team member customisation, level variation and story) and DA2 (Better combat mechanics than DAO)
Here’s to a great 2012 where we are spoilt rotten with amazing fantasy novels and video games
Joe my man,
Time to put down Skyrim and sign up for SWTOR. Combine WoW and Dragon Age and you’ll get this amazing mmorpg in the Star Wars universe we’ve all come to love and cherish. Guess what – i named my character BloodyNine (Jedi).
Oh, and write your next book – i cruised through First Law, BSC and Heroes in just under a month. LOVED them. Keep ’em comin!
Just starting The Blade Itself and quite enjoying myself with it. Small vacation starting tomorrow with a new book, my sons’ new video games and 3/4’s of a bottle of rum.
Was wondering if you caught the trailer for GTA5 and if so, what did you think?