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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Game Play: Why Uncharted 2 Is Just So Damn Good

I feel a bit guilty that a lot of my online posts about Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2 have been complaining about matchmaking in an otherwise pretty solid online offering. So let me make a mea culpa and rave about the single player.

Because honestly, this is one of the best games ever made.

Let's start with the mechanics. Already solid in the original Uncharted, Uncharted 2 takes the whole thing up a notch. The platforming aspects are tight and you'll rarely feel out of control with Nathan's movements. Cover is well managed and manages not to feel forced on the player (comparisons to Gears of War could fit a whole other post). You sometimes wish Nathan could do a little more, like crouch, crawl or lean ... but there's a balance of complexity that works quite well.

The weapon design is impressive. As I mentioned in comments about the multiplayer, even the starting AK clone is quite a versatile bullet tosser once you get used to it. There's nothing that feels underpowered and the range of tools at Nathan's disposal keep the gunplay from getting bland. Grenade tossing is far simpler than most games offer (much to the chagrin of many an online player...)

I don't know how much I need to talk about graphics. You've probably seen them. The game is gorgeous. You'll stop and gape. Don't feel bad.

But all of that pieces together create a brilliant framework for what is essentially a working model of strong interactive storytelling. On the surface, this is an elongated action movie plot with some predictable twists and turns and plenty of explosions. If this was a movie, there would be a lot that would be pretty average. As a game, however, works just so damn well.

Remember cut-scenes? Remember when Valve fanatics were declaring them dead? Not worth the time, no real emotional value for the player, a skip button waiting to happen. Naughty Dog writes brilliant scenes with great dialogue and they do it all with the existing engine - making a near seamless experience for the player between watching and interacting. Many developers have forgotten that cut-scenes were once used as rewards, not fillers - but not these guys.

Remember when nearly every game announced had some kind of "open world" or "sandbox" concept? Or at least some kind of "morality choice"? Uncharted 2 is a strict linear path. There's no good path or bad path, there's only Nathan's path. But that is OK, because Nathan's path is fun and littered with bullets.

This is why the game is so damn good - it takes a solid game engine, adds characters with depth, lines them down a plot full of action and packs it with some of the best dialogue ever written for a game. It's completely awesome.

Get it, unless you don't have a PS3. Then get a PS3. Then get it.


jvm said...

Last scene: best dialogue ever in a game.


That is all. Great summary. Thanks.

Josh said...

Another way to put it - I'm afraid Modern Warfare 2 is proving Ebert right.

Uncharted 2 denies the argument.