Uncharted even excels when it comes to the pacing and the difficulty level. This isn’t a huge game – I clocked it in about ten hours – but it flows beautifully from one sequence to another, and while there are a few peaks in the level of challenge, I’d disagree with anyone who says these cause the game to drag. I’m no Counter-Strike honed ninja gamer, but I think that as long as you use cover and think tactically, Uncharted gives you the tools and opportunities to fight your way out of even the trickiest situation. Replay value is only slightly bolstered by achievements, collectible treasures and harder difficulty settings, but I’d rather have a great ten hour single player game than a padded twenty hour one with a poorly thought out and ultimately redundant deathmatch mode.
Sure, there are things that Uncharted doesn’t do that Naughty Dog might like to think about in the future. There isn’t a lot of scope to wander outside of the game’s fairly linear parameters, and there’s little room for the sort of creative solutions or emergent gameplay you might see in a Crysis, Deus Ex or Half-Life 2. But overall Uncharted does for the Tomb Raider/Prince of Persia style action adventure what Call of Duty 2 did for the WWII FPS: it transforms it into a streamlined, polished piece of entertainment that gives you moment after moment of heartstopping tension and gobsmacked awe. In one way, it’s not the most innovative or forward-looking game, but in another way it feels like the future. Didn’t you always want a great Spielberg/Lucas blockbuster you could play? Well, while other developers are struggling to give you second-rate Michael Bay or Stephen Sommers, Naughty Dog has just gone and done exactly that.
There’s not much in Uncharted that’s original, yet this magnificent action adventure is so much more than the sum of its parts. The Playstation 3’s finest hour to date.