I feel that when I’m not ragging on the Wii for not having fun games, or politicians for not understanding what games are, I’ve spent many a blogpost wondering when a developer would be able to find a balance between an interesting storyline and strong gameplay. Thanks to Naughty Dog, I no longer need to have this argument and can sleep soundly knowing the Uncharted series has mastered this feng shui.
Released yesterday, the third installment of the franchise was catapulted by its overwhelmingly positive reviews. IGN gave the game a perfect score, calling it a “masterpiece” and praising its precise controls and immersive narrative.
Major news outlets also picked up the game – a rarity when it’s not discussing a controversial title – as CNN’s Mark Milian discussed Naughty Dog’s creative strategy and unusual means of storyboarding Uncharted. Interviewing creative director Amy Hennig on the game’s centerpiece moments, she revealed that the goals of such moments are not just for show, but also to become “signature pieces of the game.”
Asides from a well-spun character-driven story, the team also works on perfecting the controls of their games. The decision to make the Uncharted series a third-person action game, may seem obvious now, but with so many first-person shooters and opened-world titles flooding the market it’s easy to be tempted. However, while some in the industry have panned games for their linearity, Uncharted manages to create scope without the open cities that have become so iconic in sandbox titles like Assassin’s Creed or Grand Theft Auto. With a stunning graphical engine to boot, it appears the team has alchemized a legendary series.
Being the one of the younger forms of media, games in popular culture are propelled by this childlike energy to create something fun. Though endearing, it game developers often make juvenile calls such as copying its competitors, using shocking content for shock value, and using gimmicks to make themselves popular. These actions gain publicity on the game industry, but not necessary for the right reasons.
For video games to become a respective form of media, it needs to mature and learn from its lumps. Are all three games in the Uncharted series utterly masterful without a signal issue, glitch or bug? Of course not. However, Naughty Dog does not put their efforts into perfecting every bit of their game, but understands that at each game’s core if a story isn’t interesting, a player doesn’t care and if the gameplay isn’t right the player doesn’t play.
Hopefully Naughty Dog has not reached the highest of high, but instead broken the glass ceiling for other developers. While a title like Uncharted 3 can pride itself on being considered “the pinnacle of gaming”, without other’s being inspired to do the same the landscape of the industry is destined to grow barren.