Another odd numbered year, another game from Naughty Dog studios, renowned for the Crash Bandicoot games and more recently Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which deserves an award for how many awards it won. Thing is, Uncharted 3 won't be that good. Not because it isn't, but because it can't.
It's not Naughty Dogs fault mind you. Uncharted 3 will be game of the year caliber. In a year that's given graphics whores the lay of a lifetime, Killzone 3, Crysis 2, RAGE, and the forthcoming Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 will probably outshine them all in terms of polish. And Hennig & Co., who write the series' stories, and the returning cast of voice actors will probably outclass every other fall release. (Valve's Portal 2 is similarly strong here though.)
No the real reason is that the title just doesn't have enough momentum behind it. In '09 Uncharted 2 was destined to be game of the year. Tidbits of information were hard to come by and the game handily won nearly every major website's E3 awards. It's only critical competition was Modern Warfare 2, which many argued was creatively bankrupt compared to it's predecessor.
That hasn't happened this year. This year has been Batman: Arkham City's time to shine and millions are perched on the edge of their seats waiting for Skyrim to destroy their social lives for the foreseeable future. And really, when you compare anything to Skyrim, which is has been in development for the better part of five years, how can anything compare with a game as massive as that? Uncharted just doesn't have as much room to stand out.
But of course, the biggest reason why Uncharted 3 won't be a repeat of Uncharted 2 is because of threequal syndrome. Uncharted is actually in the same place the Batman movie franchise is in now. The first sequel was so successful that there simply isn't anything ND can do to raise the bar high enough to meet expectations. Which itself is a recipe for disappointment. Maybe if there was another year it wouldn't be so much of a problem, but for most of us the unprecedented success of Uncharted 2 is still fresh in our minds.
So my advice to those (myself included) feverishly anticipating Uncharted 3 is to calm down. High expectations are the killer of good games (SEE Heavenly Swords RAGE, and Fable). And chances are it'll get a lower metascore than UC2, so PS3 fanboys be prepared not to use it in your fruitless war with the Xbox fanboys.
If you really want to enjoy Uncharted 3, don't read the reviews. Don't read how people are going to say it didn't measure up to its predecessor or other titles this year. Don't risk the spoilers in reviews to confirm what you already know, that this series is one of the best of all time. Don't pay attention to how it won't sell 1/4th the copies of this year's mindless shooters.
Just remember that when the Uncharted series started it was overlooked and under-appreciated and this year won't be a fall from grace so much as a return to the norm.
And if I'm wrong, and Uncharted 3 is the second coming of Christ, then so much the better.