The current generation of games has produced immersive experiences which are beginning to reach the level of literature and cinema. With the recent release of God of War III on PlayStation 3, many want to know how it compares in terms of overall immersion - graphics, animations, storytelling, etc... - to the best in gaming. Uncharted 2, known for its gorgeous visuals, fluid animations, and likable characters, serves as a good point of comparison. Granted, there are many other factors which create an immersive experience, but for the purpose of this article we'll focus on these three. While God of War III is a fantastic game and technical achievement, it comes up slightly short of matching the magic Naughty Dog created with Uncharted 2.
Both franchises have become synonymous which cutting edge visuals; God of War pushed the PS2 to its limits and the original Uncharted was a showcase for the PS3. While both God of War III and Uncharted 2 feature spectacular graphics, Uncharted impresses on a more consistent basis. Everything looks polished throughout the world; the lighting is fantastic, colours are vibrant, and textures are crisp. The visual esthetic encourages exploration. God of War is slightly less consistent. The climactic set pieces are absolutely stunning, which makes the environments between set pieces feel especially plain. That being said, it's never a bad looking game, but some sequences are visually forgettable. This inconsistency in God of War can also be observed in the character models. Kratos is, without a doubt, one of the most detailed characters in gaming thus far. This makes the lack of detail placed into the supporting characters glaring. Uncharted doesn't suffer from these problems.
Animation is arguably the most important element of creating a truly immersive experience. A perfectly rendered world loses a substantial amount of value if the animation is awkward. The combat animations in God of War are incredibly smooth, making every battle enjoyable; however some of the platforming animations can be a bit clunky. A great example is during the climbing sequences; pressing X speeds up the climbing motion and if the player mashes X the animation will repeat itself in a bizarre and unrealistic fashion. Uncharted doesn't suffer from these hiccups as Nathan Drake's movement is seamless while traversing the environment. Every movement flows naturally into the next animation which prevents any awkwardness from breaking the illusion.
Creating likable, believable characters is probably the most difficult aspect of good storytelling, but also the most rewarding. Interesting characters draw players into the game world like none other. Again, Uncharted sets the bar incredibly high; the relationships and motivations of all the main characters are believable and interesting. Replaying the game still evokes the same emotional responses, which is a testament to the quality of the narrative. God of War III's character development is fairly one dimensional in comparison. Kratos' motivations are clear from the outset and stay consistent throughout, aside from one change of heart near the end which feels a little out of place. God of War also suffers from a lack of well built supporting characters that would give more weight to the character progression. Kratos alone drives the plot forward, which compared to Uncharted feels somewhat hollow.
God of War III and Uncharted 2 are both incredible games that stand on their own merits. This article does, however, portray God of War a slightly negative light, which only occurred because it's being compared to one of the most immersive games in recent memory. God of War is a game of peaks and valleys in terms of visual design, animation, and storytelling which compared to the steady high level performance of Uncharted 2, finds itself lacking.