Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Games Of The Year 2009: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Not too long into the first act of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Nathan and Chloe bump into a familiar face in the form of Elena Fisher from the first game. In the introductory moments between Chloe and Elena, Elena makes the remark that she is "last year's model" -- while intended to be humourous, the remark sums up precisely how Elena feels about seeing a new woman alongside Nathan Drake, as well as her thoughts on the abnormal situation they all find themselves in. Furthermore, it also sums up the entire game by demonstrating the subtle nuances that make up the game's brilliantly written dialogue, and the characterisation that occurs for each of the characters in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Put simply, the characters matter in this game. Despite the sometimes insane situations they find themselves in, each event, moment and conversation these characters have contributes to the overall experience. You're not just here to observe their story and be an audience to it, you're here to join them as the insane situations are dealt with on the fly, improvisations are made and unbelievable outcomes occur. They aren't your typical videogame characters, they are your friends. The end result is an adventure you care about, and a gaming experience that you do not want to end and certainly will not forget. Add on top of that the iterative and remarkable improvements upon an already strong introduction to the series, and you have a game that is truly one of the best of 2009, if not the decade or all time. Last year's model indeed.

That wraps up my little Games Of The Year series. In hindsight, I didn't play enough of the year's games to gain a proper idea of the year's best, but even so, by doing this series I was able to think about the games that impacted upon me the most, as well as show you which games I'd like developers to aspire to in the future. There were of course some other games I enjoyed in 2009, such as Race Pro and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, but mostly the year was about playing the onslaught of titles I purchased in 2008, and catching up with other games I may have missed. With games like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dragon Age: Origins, inFamous and Demon's Souls out there, it looks like this year will be similar. Considering the incredible amount of potentially awesome games coming this year, I'm actually content with the idea of looking backwards instead of forwards. It might prevent me from participating in the conversations these games will no doubt inspire, but I'll certainly appreciate not being so overwhelmed by it all as well. Onwards and upwards.


RocknRollJoel said...

I actually bought a PS3 just so i could play this game. Before then, there had been a few games that had tempted me, but none that made me want to take the plunge. Then this game came out, people started talking about it, and i realised i needed to have it. And i was most definitely not disappointed. I often found myself wanting to keep on playing, not because the gameplay was so awesome (which it was) but because i wanted to know what happened next. I needed to know what was going to happen to the characters. It made me care more about the lives of the characters than any other game i'd played before, and even more than most movies i'd watched. And that's quite an achievement.

Just as an aside, i'm very glad you posted about Flower a few days ago, cos i'd totally forgotten about it! I remember when it came out, it was one of the games that made me think about getting a PS3, but i couldn't justify shelling out $600-odd for a $12 downloadable game. However once i got the PS3, Flower completely slipped my mind! Now i can go back and see what all the fuss was about. Thanks!

Tom Allch said...

I've just finished the game and was blown away by the voice acting. I know it's been widely commented on, but it really is the best I've encountered in over 20 years of gaming.

As you write, it really makes you care about the characters, and I was quite gutted when [very early spoiler alert] Flynn double crosses Drake as I really liked him.

"There's a guard above you, above you"

Drake pulls guard over the edge

"There's a guard below you, below you"

Great stuff

Steven O'Dell said...

Joel -- Couldn't agree more with regards to Uncharted 2. I seriously love that game but despite that, I've been trying to keep my thoughts on it vague because I plan to write about it in the future. I'm covering the first game before I do that though, so it'll be a little while before I get to the sequel.

As for Flower, glad I was able to remind you of such an incredible game. Just in case you may have forgotten about other PSN releases, both PixelJunk Eden and Super Stardust HD are worth checking out too.

Tom -- Yeah the voice acting is quite possibly the best in a videogame yet, it's just that good. Here's hoping other development studios follow suit and also have their voice actors in the same room, acting the scenes out -- Naughty Dog have raised the bar and anything less will be obvious and a detriment to the overall experience. Thanks for popping in, Tom.