Sunday, January 17, 2010

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Impression

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for PlayStation 3
Released in October of 2009 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for PlayStation 3 is an experience that any and every teen and up PS3 owner’s needs to play. High praises, yes, but by now most online and magazine outlets have given Uncharted 2 their top awards and recognition and it’s completely deserved. As discussed in interviews with Naughty Dog Co-Presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra as well as Scott Rohde, VP, Sony Worldwide Studios America, the Blu-ray format allows for more of everything and the folks at Naughty Dog took this to heart when creating a gaming experience that rivals most Hollywood creations in it’s scope and creativity. What makes Nathan Drake’s second adventure so memorable? Let’s take a look at the reasons …

Gameplay – Two modes, the single-player as gamers assume the role of Nathan in his hunt for the lost fleet of Marco Polo and the multi-player which allows gamers to shoot and team-up with their online buddies. Both modes are carried out from the same behind/over the shoulder angle seen in most third-person adventure games. Aiming weapons and interacting with the environment is seamless and the character motions are very smooth. The game feels like a movie in its presentation and how it switches from cinematic to in-game action is excellent. The multi-player features are fairly deep and a welcome addition as the mixture of run-n-gun vs. co-op works well and does not feel thrown in.

Graphics – Best there is on PS3. While games like Batman: Arkham Asylum look outstanding it’s the realistic environments, lighting and little effects that really make Uncharted 2 shine. From Drake’s boot and necklace around his neck, it all look spectacular and gamers will be hard pressed to find a more photo realistic looking title on any system. Explosions, the way vehicles move, trees to doors looks so real, it’s (again) like a big budget movie. Talk about harnessing the power of the PS3 … and this is not even 50% of Blu-ray’s power!

Sound – Nolan North is fantastic, like a Indy in his youth he delivers lines that make even the tensest situations feel funny and normal. Nolan is just the tip of a voice cast iceberg that delivers an excellent script and story, breaths life into these characters and really shows games are more about shooting. Besides excellent voice work the musical score is on par with the Final Fantasy and Halo soundtracks available for purchase and download. The entire listening experience is top notch and will please any gamer’s ears.

Design - From sewers to the mountains every environment feels like a character and while the player is essentially guided it does not feel that way. Obstacles and settings feel natural, like they should be where they are. The developers did not create unneeded, foreign objects just to fit gameplay. Nathan is running around in the really real world here folks. Each encounter from taking out a guard to the opening sequence of climbing for ones life, each one feels like a scripted movie rather than one of the best games around. The textures and setting look great just like everything else about this game.

Miscellaneous – Really? Do you need more? Uncharted 2 takes gaming to new levels. Realism in setting, sound, characters and graphics. Levels of professionalism in voice acting and story telling. No miscellaneous needed, it’s all here in one great gaming package.

Overall, it’s really amazing that with three console systems and two main handhelds that the truly shining, great games only come around maybe once a year if that. When it comes to looking at a consoles history there are always a handful of games that help define that system and gaming age. It’s easy to say now that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves will join the likes of Mario Bros., Halo, Grand Theft Auto and a few more select titles as one that defined a gaming age. The heights that Uncharted 2 reaches will be hard for other games to follow but as gamers it’s great to have the bar set even higher. If this experience does not get you jazzed about gaming, then why are you playing?
Little disclosure, I still voted for Batman: Arkham Asylum as game of the year was close vote for both but as a Bats fan the tide turned a bit. While I say this, and Batman is an excellent game it does not have the timeliness and lasting ability of Nathans’ latest adventure.