Monday, May 10, 2010

Top 50 Games - 46. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

In preparing for Uncharted 2, which was garnering a great deal of praise, I decided to buy and play through the first Uncharted. It turns out I kind of hated it. Or at least it was a chore to play through, so naturally I was a bit skeptical of its 2-years removed sequel. I shouldn't have been. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a real showcase for that unmistakable kind of big-budget next-gen super-polished holiday video game. Its graphics are mind-blowing in their attention to detail, their cinematic scope and framing, their representations of varied locales painted in stunning colors. The gunplay is much improved, if subtly, from the first one and the game in general is now a joy to play rather than an exercise in boredom. But there are a lot of games labeled "cinematic", with good graphics and smooth controls. What makes this one special? Well, it's got it where it counts, and where its competition so often neglects to include something: its heart. Sure Nathan Drake is a bit of a tool and his voice actor Nolan North is horrifyingly prolific, but the characters, cliched as they are, really are lovable and entertaining. Elena is a phenomenal character, and the best representation of a female in the medium since Alyx Vance. The tension between her and femme fatale Chloe is well executed, as is the charming lechery of cigar-chomping, mustachioed Sully. One of my biggest gripes with the first Uncharted was the feeling of derivation and creative water-treading that it radiated. And while I certainly wouldn't call Uncharted 2 innovative, it carries with it a sense of identity, and contains many moments (cough train level) that couldn't easily exist in lesser games. A popcorn game with ridiculous production values and even a heart. Sounds good to me.

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