Thursday, April 22, 2010

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves — Video Game Review

Finally, I finished a game and I'm able to get my first video game review up on the blog. There's not a lot of opportunity to sink into games these days but I'm hoping to bust through a few more before the holiday onslaught.

First up, is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves from the creators of Crash Bandicoot, Jax and Daxter, and the well received first Uncharted game. Anyone that follows anything about video games beyond Madden and the Wii knows that Uncharted 2 was the single most praised game released last year. It has won every major award that exists and the reviews for it are glowing.

With all that being said, I'm going to be really radical and say, yup, it's the best game of 2009 that I personally got my hands on and one of the best games I've ever played.

For those of you who only vaguely know about the game (and thank you for reading), here is a quick synopsis of game. It's Indiana Jones in the modern age with lots more shooting and Lara Croft-like tomb puzzles.

Without question, Uncharted 2 has the best voice acting in any video game up to this point. Nolan North who does the voice acting for the main character, Drake, becomes the character in every way. Their are tons of great one liners and little quips that ground the story in reality and you feel Drake is really experiencing these outlandish scenarios.

The story is on par with, if not surpasses, most theatrical summer blockbusters to come out recently. Seriously, Uncharted 2 makes Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull look like it was written by monkeys which anyone who's suffered through the Star Wars prequels will agree with.

Visually, the game is stunning. I found myself in the middle of firefights just staring out into the scenic vistas. The animations are great as people shrug their shoulders, limp after being wounded, and give off real acting performances with their body language.

If I could peg down one thing that makes Uncharted 2 a great, it was the game's ability to continually give the player these epic set pieces that they have to battle their way through.

Quickly, let me touch on a traditional video game convention before proceeding that will help me set up my next few paragraphs. Whenever a game takes control out of a player's hands and shows off a little mini-scene or movie, that's known as a cutscene. Cutscenes are generally very east to spot coming and the player can put the controller down and watch the characters act on screen.

Uncharted 2 technically has cut scenes and moments where the game takes the control away from the player but they are incredibly well integrated into the action. There's a scene about a quarter way through the game where you are battling enemies through a broken down apartment building. The whole time there's an enemy helicopter that keeps popping up periodically to try to shoot you through windows.

Numerous times during this action sequence, the game takes the controls from the player and has Drake do something spectacular to avoid falling debris or missiles. However, the action immediately snaps back into your hands and you are off and running again. It's seamless.

The highlight of the games evolves around Drake hopping on the back of a moving train and working his way up to the engine. This takes about half-an-hour of game time to get through and you experience so much in just this one part that it feels like a video game inside the video game. It's just like you are playing one of the great action sequences from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

This game is an experience. I've read reviews about how people, who are not actually playing the game, sit down and watch the game from start to finish. It's that good and that engrossing. What an accomplishment this was for the makers of the game, Naughty Dog. If developers can even catch a whiff of what was done in this game, the future of video games looks tremendously fun and revolutionary.

1 comment:

  1. I remember we used to watch people play those animated cartoon "choice" video games back in the day. It was fun watching other people, who knew what they were doing, play them. Most FPS games lately are kind of tedious to just watch. It's hard to follow the action and it's just a lot of blasting through stuff to get to a boss that has that one weakness to exploit and then it just becomes repetitive until the boss gets killed and they run the cool 5 minute long cutscene explaining what happened while you were defeating the boss and what's going to happen next. Bioshock avoided some of this repetitiveness, but still wasn't completely enthralling to just watch as someone else played it. I'll be the judge eventually as I'm sure I'll end up spending time watching my son play by himself when I get frustrated because of my feeble gaming skill set.