The other night, I decided to blog my very own personal top-ten list of games that had been released this generation. Why? So gamers had a feel of the new reviewer they were getting; so they weren’t shocked when they got on their computer screens to see the odd score for Monkey Island 2: Special Edition. Not to my surprise, a lot of very rude gamers had complaints. Actually, they all had one specific complaint. Each and every one wondered where Uncharted 2 was. To compliment my understanding of the English language, they each politely raised their complaint by posting comments such as, “No uncharted 2 = you’re a moron and your list is crap. Fuck you.” After reading a plethora (you know you just Google’d that word) of such well thought-out and very reasonable complaints, I decided I would blog a response to all.
Note: This is not a review of U2, Diego already did so very well. I disagree with it, but he wrote it. Now then, let’s dive into the controversy.
I think it’s a smart idea to throw up the SPOILER ALERT here. If you haven’t played Uncharted 2 and want to, this is not the article for you. Anyway…
After receiving the complaints and knowing about eight-hundred others shared the same need to burn my house down, I did something rare; a fan-service for our readers: I went back played more of the game. Immediately after getting home today, I decided to give the fans of Uncharted 2 a chance for the game to ‘wow’ me like it did them. I played a few of my favorite chapters from the campaign, two rounds of co-op, and a few games of the competitive multiplayer. And to be completely honest, I felt myself as unamused as I was the first time through with each feature.
I began my venture by loading up the few select chapters that take place right after Drake gets out of prison and into the war-zone. Why? Because the beginning of a game is supposed to set up everything, both gameplay and story. And while the other levels set up the story marvelously (by informing me that I’m going to go through the game despising my main character for being an unlikable loud-mouth that went through no character growth), it introduced movement rather than gunplay whereas the chapters I decided to play introduced gunplay as well as capitalized on the platforming elements. What could go wrong? Well a lot, actually. Like, more so than from developers thinking that transforming your main character into a lycanthrope is sheer brilliance. Like every one who plays this chapter, the first thing I tried to do was throw a propane tank. I aimed it, shot when I was supposed to for the automatic blow up, and the chemical reaction from the propane released an explosion of rainbows and butterflies. Cool. Since that plan failed, I realized I had to take cover and fight my way against the big bad three terrorists. And as soon as I hit that circle button, I felt my loose parkour Indiana Jones turn into the Statue of Liberty as he pressed up against that wall. Okay, so the cover system is janky. I bet the kills will be worth the effort, right? Well thirty clips later, I find out enemies actually use bullets like aspirin and the only way to kill them is to overdose them by about sixty hits over the prescribed amount. Once my enemies looked like swiss cheese, I got out of cover and pressed on. But before I get into that, let’s recap: we have a janky and clunky cover system in a cover shooter with enemies who eat bullets and yet don’t give off any feeling of accomplishment after being slain. Let’s hope the platforming is flawless.
Well, hopes have been gruesomely murdered and curb stomped by a giant Gundam. I’ll tell you now, the level design in which they center the platforming around is actually fairly creative and can be best described with the phrase ‘cool and thrilling.’ However, the actual game mechanics just fall flat on their face while trying to carry Nathan Statue-of-Liberty-Indiana-Jones Drake around. Let me clarify a bit: Their are always parts in Uncharted where the entire crew faces a wall and Drake needs to scan the environment for something to grab onto so he can climb to the top of the tower and go through various wacky shenanigans in the process. However, their is absolutely nothing in the game to differentiate grabable ledges from background scenery. This was a case in the first game too, but this time around we face grabable scenery that just doesn’t lead any where. It’s always awkward climbing up on a ledge and finding out you don’t have to go there. Each and every time I expected Elana to look up and say ‘Drake, where are you going…?’ to make me feel even more ashamed of myself. The best part? This will happen when you’re three stories off the ground. (Trophy Unlocked: Join the mile high club. Description: Not as satisfying as you hoped, huh?).
Once I had all those problems confirmed for me and my rolling eyes, I decided to play a few games of multiplayer. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of PS3 multiplayer games. This is because they aren’t centered around the idea of PlayStation users sitting around with their friends enjoying the game the way they choose to; it’s not a social experience. To me, it seems most PS3 games use the multiplayer to just extend the single player by pitting people against each other in the hopes of unlocking cool new stuff. Trust me when I say, that feeling gets tedious after you’ve went online with friends who explode with laughter and excitement at the first sign of a good kill. It’s the very reason why unlockables are not needed for me when I play a game online. I’ll admit, KZ2’s multiplayer has a ton of good ideas, Resistance 2 was just very satisfying to play, and LBP is fun for all (even if I communicate through the XBL party system while playing it), but U2, however, just doesn’t give that satisfying feel and carries over all the gameplay issues to the online interface. It’s just not as tactical as Halo, Killzone, or even Gears. I just don’t find it fun. I find it cluttered, laggy, and trying too hard. Heck, their aren’t even fun weapons like in all the shooters I mentioned previously. Nothing sticks out and that is going to lead us right into the main problem. Yeah, keep reading.
Uncharted 2’s main problem is that it just tries too hard to be a money making franchise. Yes, it succeeds in that aspect, but only because the general audience is full of easy to please tools who crave a new desert to pop some heads in. That may be a little harsh. Honestly, nothing is wrong with wanting your game to sell. They have to sell to keep in business, it’s simple logic. However, to guarantee success, the game has to play it safe. Thus, it sticks to concepts people know and are accustomed to. You won’t ever find any of the creativity found in games like Godhand or Portal in these safe titles. In fact, in Uncharted 2 you won’t find ANY creativity. What you’ll see is emulation and refining. You’ll find poor quality emulation of the Gears of War cover system, the Assassin’s Creed climbing system, and the same exact story as the first Uncharted. It takes all of these experiences and throws them into a B-movie plot about revenge, discovery and blue people and throws them in a few extraordinarily cool levels (that over-stay their welcome once or twice too often) that make every gamer think, ‘Haven’t I done this before?’ Uncharted 2 is by no means a bad game, it’s a rather well designed game, but it just rose to game-fame by doing what every other game has already done and THAT’S why it’s over-rated bullshit. Naughty Dog, I will forever expect more from you. I hope you read this and give me something to make me eat each and every word I wrote.