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We play Uncharted for action, adventure, romance, and comedy… but for some reason, Naughty Dog keeps assuming we also want a heaping dose of horror. Thus, a treasure hunt through lush tropical wonderlands eventually devolved into a dull, dark shooter slog through zombie-infested corridors in Drake's Fortune. The sequel's abominable snowmen weren't as distracting – until they transformed into nearly invincible Smurfmen, that is.
What do you want to bet that Nathan faces off against magical mystical mummies in the deserts of Uncharted 3? And that he'll act shocked and surprised, even though this has happened to him twice before? And that they'll be a paranormal pain in the ass to kill? Enough already.
If Uncharted 3 must have supernatural enemies, however, at least use their otherworldly monstrousness to inspire bigger and better final bosses than what we experienced in the first two games. The 100% scripted, button-prompting fistfight at the end of Drake's Fortune was hugely disappointing compared to the intensity of the previous 10 hours, and while the helicopter battle midway through Uncharted 2 was tremendous, running around in a circle shooting plant life with Zoran Lazarevic during the last chapter was not.
So for the sake of excitement, go ahead and create a gargantuan creature with predictable patterns and obvious weak points. It couldn't be worse than what we just described. Or better yet, lose the guns and make the final encounter a scripted chase sequence or a daredevil platforming puzzle – both seem more true to the spirit of Uncharted anyway.
Speaking of puzzles and platforming… they're a little too easy. The solution to every obstacle is automatically written in Nathan's journal, and the path through every room is helpfully pointed out by the direction of Nathan's jumps and reaches. Unlike the best Tomb Raider games, you never find yourself stuck for long in an Uncharted game. Your hand is usually held the whole way through.
Messing with this approach too much might ruin the perfect pacing of Uncharted, so we don't want Naughty Dog to force harder puzzles and platforming on players. Instead, give us choices. Enable us to turn the auto-align off or on for Nathan's acrobatics. Include an optional "grab-on" button for ledges like in Prince of Persia. Increase the complexity of the puzzles, but then incorporate a tiered hint system through the journal. Higher difficulty shouldn't be defined only by "more enemies" and "less health."
Collecting the extra treasure scattered throughout Nathan Drake's travels is mildly diverting, but is it addictive? Is it rewarding? We'd feel a lot more invested in the hunt for hidden artifacts if Naughty Dog expanded that element of Uncharted into its own detailed minigame.
Above: What, exactly, is a "fibula thogchag"… or the "phurba thogchag" for that matter? A deeper collectible system could tell you!
First step: No generic sparkles on the ground. The treasure you see in the menus should be the treasure you see in the environments. In fact, recognizing which items to take from your surroundings, based on sketches in your journal, could be half the fun. Next, add descriptions that explain the significance, history and mystique of each item. Finally, study Red Dead Redemption (how each treasure included hints to the next treasure) and Batman: Arkham Asylum (how the collectibles told an entirely separate side story) for inspiration.