Posted by: Paul | January 8, 2010

Uncharted 2

I’m exhibiting slightly worrying signs of addicted behaviour. If I have even 5 spare minutes at home at the moment, it’s on with the PS3 for a blast, however brief, of what Eurogamer.net writers and readers alike have voted their game of 2009 – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

It’s staggering. And it’s hard to put my finger on quite why – it doesn’t do anything new. It looks great, but so do plenty of other games at the moment. I think it’s just because it’s a spectacular and very rounded experience that, like a good book, is really hard to put down. A hokey, matinee-ish story that propels you along the way an Indiana Jones movie does. Believable, polished characterisation with exemplary voice performances – I have simply never seen better in a game (since Uncharted 1 at least!). Fun clambering and scrambling controls and satisfying gunplay with weighty feedback. And in-game trophies and medals that keep you coming back for more – I just need to kill one more bad guy with that MP40…

It also doesn’t outstay its welcome. Like a decent action movie it grabs you, flings you around a bit and then lets you go while you’re still breathless with excitement, and want to watch it a second time. In fact I think it’s the dream – the closest my 8 year-old self playing C64 has ever come to playing a movie.

The criticisms levelled at it are along the lines of “is that all games can be?” It’s basically a gradual refinement of so many predecessors but I think this is perhaps its biggest success – it’s got there at last. The perfect example of an action-adventure game that is challenging but not so difficult it puts less experienced players off, and ever so subtly leads you by the hand to it’s inevitable conclusion. It’s not emergent. It’s not “pure fun” like Tetris. It’s also single-player in it’s intended form (though the bundled multiplayer can be fun, it’s the single-player story experience which sells it, unlike something like Modern Warfare, which is the opposite in that it is a multiplayer game at heart with a single player mode thrown in!)

Anyway, I’m hooked. Can’t get enough. Already plotting my third play through (unheard of) to get those last medals. I’m going to need methadone after that.

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