Okay, okay, I’m behind on this one too. Look, I’ve got a lot of games to play. Some slip past. It happens. I’m only human, right? Thankfully there’s a jolly old elf who comes by my house every December in an attempt to rectify the fact that I miss a lot of games most people grabbed on Day Zero. Heck, I never even played the original Uncharted. That, however, is a failure I intend to correct, if its quality is anything close to that of its sequel.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has gotten what some people might describe as a “modest” amount of positive coverage since its release, assuming “modest” means 25 perfect review scores, four-at-last-count Game of the Year awards, and the usual blistering video review from Yahtzee.
Yahtzee (rightly) accused Uncharted 2 of being same-y, which is to say it’s basically a mishmash of Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and Gears of War. What he failed to make clear is why any game that takes the very best of each of those things and throws away everything else is to be faulted. Uncharted 2 has the liquid platforming and puzzle solving of the good Tomb Raiders, the hilarity and character of the (first and only good) Indiana Jones, and… well, cover and shooting like Gears of War which was an awesome game so there’s little need to throw out bad stuff. The engine looks simply breathtaking, the controls are tight and effortless, and it’s extraordinarily pleasant to play such a cheerful game, no matter how unoriginal its concept might be.
I read recently that developer Naughty Dog spent 40 days in the mocap studio shooting Uncharted 2, and that unlike most games, the mocap actors and the voice actors were one and the same. In fact, I understand that the actors delivered their lines right there in their pingpong suits, and damn if it doesn’t show. What would be a good story is made great by the naturalism of acting and delivery that can’t be accomplished when one person provides a voice and another a body, often months and miles apart. Moreover, seeing actor Nolan North as protag Nathan Drake gives me a greater appreciation for his talent. He was good in Prince of Persia, sure, but not as good as he is here. North is in, like, every videogame ever made, so he’s had to suffer through some painfully bad scripts. You can tell that he appreciates the opportunity to play Drake, especially given that the script in Uncharted 2 is two things I rarely expect in games: very well-written, and damned funny. To be honest I didn’t realize that the Uncharted series was essentially an adventure comedy (I thought it was more serious), and it works.
According to the save-game status meter, I am 12% into Uncharted 2, having just blown up Borneo, and I’m trying to take it slow in order to relish the experience. Swapping between it and Modern Warfare 2 has led to some… odd dreams, but having such an embarrassment of riches to enjoy is quite a lovely thing.
PS3s are moving off shelves a little more quickly these days thanks to the cheaper Slim model, and alongside Demon’s Souls and Valkyria Chronicles, Uncharted 2 is a strong reason to own the console. Despite the claims that platform exclusives are no longer the segment dominators they used to be, if the PS3 is able to continue featuring work like this while the 360 shies away from exclusives, Sony’s beleaguered console may yet become the contender to remember for this generation.
Shit. You PS3 flunkies are getting the goods and I am not pleased.
I wasn’t that bothered by Uncharted until my friend let me have a quick blast and the overriding sense of fun made it such a refreshing change. The writing made me chuckle a fair few times and was well acted throughout. I found some later QTE moments (absolutely) infuriating but my overall experience was positive thanks to the slickness of all the different elements working together.
I’m looking forward to giving the sequel a whirl. It’s nice to see they’ve implemented some stealth elements into the game because I got really tired of shooting the baddies all the time!
@helmut: there are some enticing games for the PS3 now but for some reason my PC still get’s more attention. Demon’s Souls is swaying the balance slightly though…
I was also late for this one but finally played during the holidays. Just yesterday I made a post about it too. Very funny. Anyway, I think the game is great. The script is great, the action is fluid, the acting is awesome. To me it is like an interactive Indiana Jones movie, what more could I ask for?
It’s funny that we’ve come so far since full-motion video, and yet now we’re shooting games with actors just like back then… except doing it in mocap studios. The difference is amazing.
There’s a lot of Uncanny Valley in Uncharted 2, but I can easily overlook it since I’m used to that. And frankly I’ve lost count of how many times this game’s cutscenes and dialogue have made me laugh out loud, or genuinely appreciate the cast’s talent.
“You know what they say, ‘desperate times,'”
“What does that mean?”
I delved into Uncharted 2 recently. I had heard very little of the game, and was pleasantly surprised when I played it. In fact, its probably my standout title of 2009. Not because its revolutionary, but on basis that (not dissimilar to Blizzards crack at the MMO market), they used many existing game mechanics, and the lessons learnt from Unchartered and significantly improve upon it all (seems simple…).
Although this doesn’t make for a particularly original game, it does make for one which is well made, one that has a reasonable storyline and strong graphics, coupled with fantastic animation and set pieces. I would be very surprised if someone played the opening thirty minutes and wasn’t hugely impressed.
It’s a game that has certainly swayed me into investing in a PS3 (to which I never thought I would see the day).
Oh shut up Lew, you’ve always wanted some MotorStorm action 😉
Indeed, Motorstorm is a fantastic game but it wouldn’t sway me to purchase the console. Even Metal Gear Solid, which is often Sony’s saving grace doesn’t sway me; but that’s probably because I despise MGS.
Demon’s Souls would bitch slap you if you weren’t swayed by it. Hehehe
Perhaps I was expecting much more from the console race than this generation has offered. Although there are some fantastic games and hardware choices offered, I would consider that the PC still outshines all three for originality and for personal must have titles this year.
Games such as Unchartered 2 go some way in strengthening the PS3’s catalogue, but such heavy weight titles are so few and far between.
Demonsouls is a quandary to me; to play a game so intentionally brutal, to learn “parrot fashion” in order to progress into another similar situation sounds of game mechanics years past. However, and in much-o contradiction within the industry, reviewers and developers alike have revelled in such a title. Where as previously, they would have ridiculed any game that lauded itself as stoic and uncompromising (the fundamental lack of a pause button an obvious sign) yet here we are with magazines such as Edge and Famitsu reaping heavy praise despite admitting its extreme repetition.
Perhaps it’s the ability to customise the player Avatar which has swayed them, or the “must-have-another-go syndrome.” I’m not sure I could tolerate such a game, but I am certainly intrigued.
You gotta understand though, Lewis, Demon’s Souls doesn’t feel like that. It rarely feels too grindish, almost never frustrating, and is anything but intentionally brutal. The gameplay itself is, at most, quite challenging. The whole “it’s hard” thing comes from the penalty for failure, not from moment-to-moment events. What fascinates me about it is that the game itself is very crystalline. It’s all about you and what you choose to do; the difficulty comes from the player’s (often conscious) decision to do something stupid.
I will say avatar customization has nothing to do with the game’s massive addictive prowess, because you pretty much never see your character again after creating him or her. You’ll be wearing a helmet. Armor is your friend.
As for “must have another go,” it’s definitely part of it, but even in that, Demon’s Souls is somehow unique. I simply can’t describe or define what makes the game such a standout, but it is.
I’ve played about 2-3 hours, perhaps a little more, of Demon’s Soul and I would have to say that it feels very grindish, very frustrating, and intentionally brutal.
I agree the “it’s hard” thing comes from the penalty of failure, but failure happens so often and any tiny mistake can lead to it and the consequences are so brutal (go aaaalll the way back to the beginning and do everything aaaalll over again) that the penty of failure is particularly harsh.
Granted, I’m not the most skillful player of these sorts of games and I am player who saves repeatedly when I play games because nothing frustrates me more than having to do the same thing I just did over again. I remember in “Half-Life 2” there was a sequence where you had to arrange items with your grav gun so you could jump across a small pond of radioactive waste. I saved after each and every jump just so I wouldn’t have to go back and do it again.
So, in the end, I think Demon’s Souls is just not the game for me as it plays on my weaknesses as a player – totally unforgiving – and what I find most frustrating about playing video games in genreal – having to stuff over again if you fail.
One Saturday I switched up from Demon’s Souls to Batman: Arkham Asylum and if felt like the difference from being in school and being on summer vacation. One was filled with drudgery, annyoance, reptition, boredom and occassional frustration and the other was filled with kick-ass fun and awesomeness.
Again, I can see the appeal of Demon’s Souls. It looks cool. I enjoy watching people play it, it’s just totally not the game for me for the reasons stated above.
As I said Steerpike, I’m intrigued by the concept of Demon Souls and with luck permitting Gregg will come and fetch me this weekend, so that I can play it and report back! 😉
I have no shame in admitting I’m a MASSIVE Uncharted fanboy. As a kid I loved Indiana Jones films (yes, even Last Crusade!), played all the early Tomb Raider games before the bottom fell out of the Franchise after The Last Revelation, and pretty much worshipped any smart-mouthed ‘loveable rogue’ hero.
So you can imagine the fangasm I had at the original Uncharted.
The second one was hyped to all hell by just about every review out there, and in that rarest of rare moments in entertainment media, they were damn right.
Yes, it’s linear. Yes, the plot’s lifted straight out of a bad Hollywood script starring Matthew McConaughay, and yes there are moments that will have you launching your pad out of the window in sheer frustration, but when you trade that off against the excellent scenery (not just the graphics, the actual settings are almost entirely well-imagined and constructed), the near-perfect pacing of the game, particularly the little break just after the train chase, and the flawless performances by the voice actors, it’s an entirely captivating game from start to finish.
I really hate gushing about a game, because fanboyism is one of my pet hates, but Uncharted 2 just does it for me – it’s like someone reached into my mind at about 12 years old and went ‘right, let’s remove the references to Kelly LeBrock and turn this into a game.’
Hi Jason, and my apologies for taking so long to approve your comment. Sometimes I don’t check as often as I should.
The more I play this game, the more I’m delighted by the script and acting. The gameplay is excellent; I don’t really have anything to say about it since it’s polished and tuned to the nines. Instead I just can’t get over the quality of the narrative. It is funny. I mean laugh out loud, oh-no-you-didn’t-just-say-that FUNNY. It’s kind of comforting when I’ve been playing games for 34 years and then essentially stumble onto a great new franchise to enjoy.