Game Design Talk: Uncharted’s Ending

(SPOILER ALERT: This post will analyze the final chapter of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune in detail. I know the game came out in 2007, but nonetheless, you’ve been warned)

I have not been shy to share my views on endgame sequences. Had I played Uncharted at the time, I absolutely would have included it in that piece. Unfortunately, it would have been cited as another example of a bad ending.

The reason I’m going the extra mile to talking about this particular endgame sequence is that its the last of a series of flaws that turns this potentially amazing game into just a really good game that falls short of greatness.

After the game takes a turn towards the supernatural, I was expecting some sort of Batman: Arkham Asylum super-being to finish this game off. Oddly, the game decides that now is the time to go back to something more logical and realistic, which hurts the endgame experience considerably. To be fair, had it taken the Arkham Asylum route, I would have been unhappy with that endgame sequence as well.

Instead of fighting some super-being, you chase down the final main bad guy on a ship, shooting your way through dozens of henchmen, just as you have throughout the game. The only difference here is that the main bad guy can kill you with one shot. This was annoying at first, but once you figure out the pattern, you’re shooting guys just as you’ve done dozens of times before.

I was expecting all of this to lead up to an epic and climactic battle on the ship’s helipad. The final result was far from epic. To be fair, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune has one of the more reasonably realistic endgame sequences I’ve ever seen, and it definitely plays out like something from an action movie. However, as a video game player, this final sequence is horrible. After spending hours to get to this point, the final gameplay climax is nothing more than players hitting four buttons to complete the very unspectacular quick time events. It’s one of the most disengaging, uninspired and lamest climaxes I’ve ever experienced in a game. As icing on this bittersweet cake, the game ends on a cliché, which is a subject I’ve already griped about.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune ends on a gameplay low-note; probably the lowest note in the entire game. The complete lack of anything special and a final anti-climactic battle really left a bad taste in my mouth. Had the payoff been there at the end, it may have been enough for me to overlook the game’s other issues. However, it only amplifies the fact that this game could have (and possibly should have) been one of the best things ever and fell just short.

Look out for my closing thoughts on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune in the next few days.

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