Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (M) - 2009
PS3 - Naughty Dog
I'm a little late to the game on this (pun intended) - but this is by far one of those game that will forever stick out in my mind. It's just such a visceral experience that is up there with the best games I've ever played.
I will admit I am a total nerd when it comes to games. I tend to really get involved with one game at a time and I try to finish that game before moving on to the next (although there are a few exceptions - Sonic Unleashed comes to mind, but that's a whole other post!). Plus, I'm always 6 months to a year behind releases because I really can't budget $60 for a game every month or two. My favorite games involve a good story and characters that follow a cinematic structure. These games typically suck you into the environment not only with the story, but with clever gameplay and excellent pacing. Uncharted 2 has all these elements and it's one hell of a ride. There's one particular level where you're on a train barreling through the jungle and it's a perfect metaphor for the whole game.
I played the first Uncharted and that's a great game also, but Naughty Dog pushed the volume up to 11 on the sequel. Everything is just more epic - the story, the stakes and the battles. Just take a look at this car chase sequence:
And as crazy as that particular level was, there is absolutely more insane moments than that. I won't go into details, but you'll be hard pressed to put down the controller because after you catch your breath, it's on to the next big rush of action. The game does a good job at simplifying the controls and action. You're never going to have to remember button combos (the bane of bad video games) and the game pretty much helps you out most of the time when traversing the landscape. It's a linear game and despite the exploratory-themed settings and plot, you really don't do that much exploring. Which is a good thing in this case - the developers have carefully crafted a story-telling experience and they don't want you to stray too far from the main path.
As for the story, it's top notch as far as action-adventures goes. Indiana Jones has some competition finally, with Nathan Drake. Once you think the story is over, it's really not and it all leads up to a very satisfying end which of course I won't spoil here. Usually in video games, the voice acting and dialogue take a backseat to the gameplay, but here, it's probably one of the best acted and written games of all time - it takes a lot of cues from Hollywood and it shows:
I'm obviously gushing about this game, but it's truly fantastic and something I've stayed up late playing. There's just enough challenge on normal difficulty to make you frustrated, but not in a bad way. I haven't played the multiplayer yet, but I'm not much for getting online and playing a bunch of strangers, especially when I know I'm going to get my ass kicked. As for just a single player experience? I would not hesitate to say if you don't have a PS3 right now, Uncharted 2 is a good enough reason to get one. Seriously, it's that good.
Rating: Own It!