Revisiting – Uncharted 1 & 2 (PS3)

In honour of Uncharted 3 which came out yesterday – Tuesday, November 1st – we decided to go through Uncharted 1 and 2 and give them a bit of a spotlight for our Wednesday feature this week.

Uncharted is one of Sony’s big exclusive franchises, and is a series that has won a number of ‘game of the year’ awards from all over the internet and has garnered acclaim from nearly everyone. Below you’ll see if I feel the acclaim was justified or not.

Uncharted follows the story of Nathan Drake, long time descendant of Sir Francis Drake, a British hero and sailor. Nathan Drake is Naughty Dog’s take on Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Relic Hunter, etc. Drake is a treasure hunter with a rather sordid past which never fails to come back to haunt him. Betrayal, bad luck, curses, and overwhelming odds are all stacked against you as you navigate Drake through a network of occupied jungles, trapped ruins, treacherous mountains and war-torn cities looking for treasure. But in the end, the treasure proves to be too good to true and it’s left to Drake to save the world from those who would abuse it – while those who guard it are none too happy with his intrusion!

The game is a third person shooter, and the shooter controls are every bit as accurate as any other shooter – first or third person. The variety of weapons is interesting and caters to a variety of playstyles. Add to that a very intricate cover system allowing for stealth to be used as a weapon as well if you’re good enough at it. The combat is fun, and aside from a few vehicle sequences, always feel fresh and interesting. The second game didn’t make any huge changes, but the changes made definitely made the combat feel smoother and the controls more reliable.

The puzzle solving is largely the same in terms of basic concept in the two games, but the actual puzzles vary so dramatically in execution that it never feels stale. The jumping controls are a little unreliable due to the fact that if you are making an ‘intended’ jump the character seems to be able to jump significantly further than his normal jump distance. Occasionally the puzzles felt a bit contrived, but only one or two of them. When they use the concept of some part of the mechanism breaking and Nathan having to jury-rig a solution, it felt much more natural than the few cases where they had the ‘proper’ method of solving x puzzle be the method they showed in the game. Aside from that though, these are some of the best action-style puzzles I’ve seen in a long time.

The game’s story is told almost entirely through conversation between the characters. There is nearly no narration, and everything is presented in a very player-friendly manner. Never did I feel like I was missing part of the puzzle unless it was a plot element that I was, indeed, missing that part! The story itself is incredibly well-written, surpassing nearly all action movie stories despite being the same sort of story. The characters felt very believable, with each one having layered histories behind them as well as actual personalities – contiguous, persistent personalities which is quite rare.

The real stars of the game are the presentation aspects. The voice acting is phenomenal, the dialog feels natural and has a good flow. The first game was incredible for this, and they made it even better in the second game. Probably my only complaint relating to the voice aspect was that the characters continue to banter even in situations where it would have unquestionably got them noticed. A minor continuity complaint, but one that is certainly worth mentioning. The soundtrack is every bit as good, with a good mix of both the high-profile and the ambient all fitting in perfectly where they are.

The graphics are stunning – in fact they stand up among the best of the generation with pride. And, unlike most realistic graphic approaches – they actually have aged fairly well. Uncharted 1 still looks good, despite being a few years old at this point. And Uncharted 2 looks even better. The cinematics are amazingly well designed, every bit worthy of an action movie.

The second game did feature a multiplayer component; however this late in the game with it being as old as it is and it’s sequel already being out – good luck finding anyone to play with. The fact that it does have it is worth noting, but not something to bank your decision to go back and play these games on since it’s probably mostly dead at this point.

Basically all of this adds up to: If you haven’t played Uncharted’s first two entries, I strongly recommend going and picking them up. They are phenomenal games which really highlight the power of the platform and the ability for games to tell fantastic stories, something that a lot of developers don’t feel the need to do anymore – with the rise of ‘choose your own adventure’ gameplay. And it does it without the gameplay suffering! And as a bit of a teaser – Uncharted 3 continues the tradition.

 

Written by: Sean

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