There’s no denying that the Uncharted series is an anomaly of the video game world. While most of your big budget titles releasing this year offer branching paths and side quests, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception stuck to its guns and delivered gamers a story-driven experience.
Still, gamers, after having experienced Drake’s exploits over this past two iterations, might be wondering why Naughty Dog hasn’t thrown in a little side quest or branching mission here or there, but in Creative Director Amy Hennig’s mind that just isn’t what the series is about.
Uncharted 3 isn’t strictly linear, it does give gamers choices, but those choices work within the confines of the gunplay, not the story. And it’s because of that globe-trotting story that Naughty Dog wants to keep gamers on a straight and narrow path.
"It's about having a very clear, linear story arc that doesn't allow for a lot of the dilution that is created by player choice in some cases. We always call it 'wide linear' - within the path that we give you, you have a lot of choice within it, it's not just hit this button, and this button, and this button. But we need that authorial control over the story to do what we're doing."
But even if Naughty Dog had wanted to try something new with this third iteration, that innovation would have required more development time, something the team just didn’t have this time around. In fact, development on Uncharted 3 came right down to the wire, a sentiment that was reflected on the faces of the voice actors and developer during the ‘Play It First in 3D’ event.
With a game that follows such a beloved and critically applauded sequel, Naughty Dog knew they had to up the ante, and in doing so created a game that was more ambitious and had a grander scope. Unfortunately, that same scope and ambition put Naughty Dog into major crunch time during the final weeks of development. Yes, crunch time is par for the course, but according to Naughty Dog’s Josh Scheer it was more intense than usual.
“This time around, just because of the scope and the ambition of the game — even after we had gone back and shortened some things, trimmed some other things — there was just still a lot to do, in the amount of time we had to do it.”
Clearly a lot of time and effort went into not just delivering Uncharted 3 on time, but into keeping the game true to its roots. While the future might be a little uncertain for Uncharted (was this the last PS3 iteration?), there’s still a fantastic title releasing today.
Would you ever like to see Uncharted implore a more non-linear approach to its gameplay? Do you think that the series is in need of a big change?
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is out now for the PS3.