On Uncharted 3 and Difficulty Levels

On Uncharted 3 and Difficulty Levels

Posted by on Dec 29, 2011 in Commentary | 2 comments


I finished Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception today after spending a two-day marathon on it. And by marathon I mean I played it for hours until I was too sleepy to continue. From what I can remember, I spent roughly an hour and twenty minutes total behind cover, trying not to get shot.

The first game I played in the series was Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. From my experience with it I knew that frustration will eventually kick in if I played a sequence over and over, like those fights that had five enemies shooting at you and one of them had a rocket launcher. It got worse near the end, when I had to fight the Guardians. They were fast and incredibly durable, requiring almost a full clip from an automatic weapon each to take down. And that was on Normal difficulty.

Knowing that made me think twice about selecting Hard when I started Uncharted 3, but pride took over reason so I went ahead and chose that anyway. Things were great until I got to the ship graveyard level.

That level is amazing, frustrating and unbelievable all at the same time.

Let me tell you about it first. Right from the start there are two guys sniping at you, followed later on by another guy who will mount a machine gun if he goes untouched. Later on another guy will climb on top of a boat and fire grenades at you. That’s not even counting the regular foes who rush and flank you armed with pistols, rifles and shotguns. On top of all that you’re diving under water to avoid enemy fire and trying to shoot straight against swells, waves and unstable footing.

Hopefully the description is enough to give you an idea about how unbelievable the level is. It’s a sequence that’s straight out of an action movie, one wherein escapism is applied in full force. I don’t know why I even thought about it at the time, but I guess I was so engrossed in the sequence that I began to imagine how it would look like if it was real. Imagine clinging to the side of a boat, hanging on for dear life while fending off wave after wave of enemies, not to mention struggling against the literal waves that are throwing off your aim.

After I restarted the sequence for the nth time I began to consider turning the difficulty down back to Normal. A voice in my head was screaming No, no, no! Again, pride took over and I kept at it until I succeeded. This process would repeat itself the closer I got to the end. I thought about it when I got to the desert level. I thought about it during the fights with the Djinns. At that point I just wanted to see the ending.

With repetition comes familiarity. As I failed the sequences I got around to memorizing how they played out. Solutions eventually presented themselves whenever I got stuck. Take out the guy with the grenades first, followed by the snipers then find a better position to deal with the other targets. I got past the levels after a lot of trial and error. When the credits finally rolled I breathed a sigh of relief.

In the end, I asked myself the question as to whether turning up the difficulty was worth it. I knew beforehand that frustration might kick in, going as far as to reassure myself that I’d be able to handle it. I eventually did, but only after stopping myself from pulling my hair out. My conclusion? No, it wasn’t worth it. Turning up the difficulty gave me no sense of satisfaction and only resulted in frustration. Don’t get me wrong. Uncharted 3 is an excellent game and I highly recommend it (and this isn’t a review anyway). I’m just saying that the next time I play it, it’ll be on Normal.