It’s been quite some time since I’ve attempted a video game review. Video games are a lot harder to write about then films because other people cannot really share in the personal experience a video game offers. Well, if they are playing multiplayer I suppose but those aren’t games I’m interested. Give me a great story and a purpose to play a game any day over let’s divide into teams and curse at each other.
I have been fortunate enough to get in on the Sony PlayStation 3 bandwagon. While I am and always will be a PC gamer first and foremost, two games have proven that Sony does have a great platform on hand if developers have the resources to cater to it. These games are of course Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and it’s recently released sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I have played through both of these gems created by the insanely talented folks over at Naughty Dog and have come away incredibly impressed.
I won’t be spending time on reviewing Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It sets a great tone for the sequel that improves upon it’s concept of environmental exploration and modern-day swashbuckling. Both games center around one Nathan Drake, a sort of 21st century Indiana Jones minus the college professor title and replacing a whip with a variety of guns. Drake is a fortune hunter who always finds himself in the midst of bad company and somehow has enough combat training at his disposal to take on armies of mercenaries.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves takes place a few years (I believe) after the events of the first game. Drake has quit the business but like all sequels, is drawn back into the game by a beautiful woman named Chloe and her accomplice a British dude he knows named Harry. There is apparently a long lost treasure somewhere in the mountainous region near Tibet. The location for said treasure was uncovered by the intrepid explorer Marco Polo. This treasure is hidden in the mythical city of Shambhala which is based off of Tibetan mythology.
I wrote earlier that I am a man who loves a game with an engrossing story and well-developed characters. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has this in spades. The writing is tight throughout. Dialogue is snappy and avoids many cliches. The voice-acting in this game is exemplary. The production of the game is so top-notch it’s ridiculous. The game begins with you escaping a train that is hanging over the precipice of a mountain outside of Tibet. This brings me to the next thing that will blow your mind about the game, the visual presentation.
Whilst the game could be done on the PC with no issues other than getting a good control scheme down, the graphics in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves will make you a believer in the potential power of the PlayStation 3. I truly have not seen a console game look so damn good. The animations, textures, lighting, and environmental effects form a perfect storm that assaults your eyeballs. This truly is the first next-generation experience I’ve had on a console. The music and sound effects are also top-notch. So much care went into the game it’s a shame other studios don’t have the financial resources that Naughty Dog was surely given by Sony to create this gem of a game.
The gameplay brings all of the above together. The game is essentially a series of puzzles offset by action setpieces. While linear in every possible way, the set pieces are astounding. From running from an attack chopper while jumping from speeding car to speeding car or trying to avoid a tank in the middle of a Tibetan village, the game doesn’t disappoint.
There are still quibbles left over from the first game. I found myself missing key jumps over and over again due to very sensitive controls (or my own lack of skill). I still wish I could aim my weapons with a damned mouse as well. I cannot tell you how I despise aiming with a joystick. The game is also obvious as to when an action section will be triggered much as the first game. Essentially every time you see broken pieces of concrete that are slightly taller than Drake expect to be ducking under them while mercenaries are triggered. Still, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is perhaps one of the most flawless console games I’ve ever played and certainly one of the best of this past decade.
If Sony can crank out more exclusive AAA titles like this than the 360 will be in some trouble. I really don’t think Microsoft’s console could have handled the graphics quality of this game nor have provided as tight controls. Perhaps I’m wrong on that but I’ve seen nothing exclusive yet on the 360 in recent months that comes close to reaching the fidelity Naughty Dog achieved here. Jump on the bandwagon and get the Uncharted games when you do. You’ll be in for a treat.
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