October 29, 2009

Uncharted 2: The only action-adventure game gamers will need all year

Erik Kubik Says Despite its tiny flaws, Uncharted 2 is easily one of the best pieces of gaming for the Playstation 3. I was thinking Infamous could be Game of the Year until Uncharted 2 came along and dethroned the “king.”

I could go on and on about Uncharted 2, covering the plot, the multiplayer, the trophies and the characters, but by now, I am sure most gamers have read at least two reviews where the writers smothered this game with love and raved about how great it is. Instead of rehashing others’ opinions, I would rather focus on why I found this game so addicting!

One of the best things about Uncharted 2 is the way the game flows. First off, there are no obvious plot holes. I have to agree, from start to finish, Uncharted 2 feels like a movie. Cut screens move the game play along and seamlessly shift from game play to watching and back again. There are some plot twists but nothing the average gamer cannot handle. Old and new friends integrate into the game well. The game has plenty of variety as Drake climbs over ledges, dangles from cliffs, melee grapples with foes, and guns down those who stand in his way.

Uncharted 2 sucks gamers in, and will become their life for the next 20-40 hours. For some reason Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) comes to mind as a good comparison of consuming my life while attempting to create a balanced game. In quick reference, MGS 4 was the first Metal Gear game I had played and I was confused by the plot and most of the characters’ relationships. Metal Gear Solid’s in-game cinemas were lengthy and hindered the overall flow of the game.

To go along with the great rhythm, Uncharted 2 has solid controls. There are a few instances when Drake needs to move and he either jumps in the wrong direction or struggles to find cover; these are irritable flaws that are easily overlooked. There is nothing complicated about the controls, nothing has changed from Uncharted 1. I do wish Drake could climb more of the environment like Altaïr in Assassin’s Creed.

In regards to graphics, reviewers agree Uncharted 1 has some of the best graphics on the Playstation 3. Infamous is another Playstation 3 title which secretes graphical goodness. Uncharted 2 blows past other ps3 titles. The immense amount of detail in the characters and their animations are enough to make anyone stare aimlessly.

Drake’s clothing reflects his interactions with the environment from jungle rivers to the snowy cliffs of Nepal. Drake’s clothing gets soaked to the bone in rivers and the chilling snow causes his face and hands to cake with white. The scenery in Uncharted 2 is breathtaking from the urban landscape to the mountains. There is one point in the game where I simply stared at my TV in awe for at least two minutes. When you find yourself on the rooftop in Borneo, stop for a minute and look around. Everything in the distance is alive; you can see water flowing and trees rippling with the wind. There is smoke from several fires. Uncharted 2 does not have the painted, boring backgrounds that so many next generation games have.

At this point, some reviewers would launch into a three paragraph summary of the plot. Because most fans already know what happens, I am going to summarize the plot in one long run-on sentence! Drake is chasing a girl named Chloe who may or may not have betrayed him, to get the Cintamani Stone with Elena and Sully at his side (two of those old friends from Uncharted 1) while trying to stop a guy named Zoran Lazarević as they all race across exotic landscapes, each more fun than the last. Although like Uncharted 1, the ending of the game was a little disappointing.

In addition to the epic single player, there are strong multiplayer fundamentals as well. Red Faction or Grand Theft Auto IV, as non-fps games might be the closest comparisons to Uncharted 2’s multiplayer. But both GTA IV and Red Faction lack the complete experience of Uncharted 2. Those two games fall short in other crucial areas including a driven single player story, exciting characters, and gorgeous settings.

Concerning multiplayer, not only is there the standard Deathmatch variation, but there are also objective-based games such as Plunder (similar to CTF) and Chain Reaction. The latter is similar to Call of Duty World at War’s multiplayer mode where a player has to grab and hold points in a specific order. In Uncharted 2, I loved the Rockets-Only and Sniper-Pistol Deathmatch options. These are the little things keeping the multiplayer from becoming stale: something GTA IV suffered from. The ability to upgrade your weapons and skills as the game progresses also keeps things appealing.

Uncharted 2 also has co-op multiplayer. While Uncharted 2 lacks the customization of Red Faction multiplayer, the co-op modes are easily one of the best I have played in my 20+ years of gaming. Co-op centers on objective game play, featuring Nate and two other champions. There are platform and strategy objectives mixed in with some nasty gunfights. Co-op requires gamers to work together to achieve the end goal. Outside of single player, the co-op game play drove me to stay up to 4 am multiple nights I had to wake up for work at 8 am.

Usually, I blaze through a new game as fast as possible. But I could not put Uncharted 2 down. From start to finish, it is such a polished piece of work. I had to watch every cut screen at least twice. I know I will play through the game at least twice. It is easily worth the $60, and with 300,000 copies sold on the first day, gamers know this fantastic game is destined for great things. If I had to give the game a review score, I’d go with 10 Goozex Eggs.