(Editor’s note: Restarting this bi-weekly feature, Michael Oshima shares his frustrations while diving through the vast library of videogame “classics” in the name of games journalism. Please be gentle and remember Wheaton’s Law.)
Videogames were always a tag-team-spectator sport in my house. I played with my younger brothers, usually, and we played a few of the action adventure type games, of which I remember one of the Star Wars games and the new Prince of Persia games, but always together. I was good at the puzzles, riddles, mazes, ciphers and things like that. I never met a sidequest I didn’t love.
My brothers were always better at the shooty, stabby, fighty parts, so I just handed off the controller for all the more un-subtle explosion-type sequences. I had always thought that they didn’t have the patience to do random side quests and long climbing sequences and stuff like that, so this was just a reasonable division of labor that kept everyone mostly happy, especially my mom who didn’t then have to hear us killing each other over who got to play next. Don’t get me wrong, we did the requisite amount of back-seat-video-gaming that any good brother would do, e.g. “You suck at this,” and “No, hit him on the stomach you idiot!” and “Block! Block! Why aren’t you blocking?”
But now I’m a grown-up (this is a lie) with my own apartment (I have three roommates), and I get to play video games without having to hand over the controller because Mom said so. I also get to pick which games I want to spend my hard-earned money on and not rely solely on the generosity of relatives at Christmas. So I bought the first two Uncharted games, which are universally praised and said to be Indiana-Jones-like, and who doesn’t want to be Indiana Jones?
I think I meant to say “who doesn’t like Indiana Jones,” but whatever.
And I confess–I played the first game, Drake 1, with my brother over Christmas vacation just like the old days. It was fun, and we were even surprised by how fun, playable, and uncorny the game was.
But I’m focusing on the second game here, Among Thieves. In the interest of preserving what is left of my journalistic integrity, I figured I should attempt the second game on my own to really get a good feel for it. The puzzly climbing parts, done. Easy. And I’d just play the shooter parts that my brothers would usually play through, so I could get a feel for that portion of the gameplay as well. Man, so professional. No problems there, maybe I was a bit rusty with the gun-type things, but it’s not like it–wrong.
I suck at the shooty parts. I had always just thought I was being nice and fair to my little brothers. Uncharted 2 quickly taught me that this was not the case.
And here I go confessing again. My brother was actually spectating as I struggled through the game, and after watching me fail some of the fight scenes in the latter half of the game 5, 7, 11 times in a row, he got so frustrated he demanded I give him the controller and let him finish those parts. I would spend 36 bullets on the first guy at about 20 percent accuracy, shooting his arms and legs, and be focused so hard on doing it that I’d get sniped by one of those bastards with the red laser sights. I ended up beating Lazarevic by myself, but not before I died so many times (on normal, by the way), that I got the condescending little pop-up hint as to how I was supposed to kill him. I GET IT PS3, DON’T JUDGE ME.
All told, Uncharted 2 is an awesome game, and it’s hard to find too much fault with it. I originally thought I might be able to complain about a few inconveniences in the combat system but–are the controls bad or do I just suck? Now I feel it’s not even fair for me to ever criticize the targeting system in a game until I put about 100 more hours in.
Plot-wise, the ending seems to gloss over some basic questions by applying the (Billy Mays voice:) “it’s ancient magic!” polish. It makes me want to know what Drake does next. The witty repartee running throughout the game is the icing on the Drake-cake. There’s even an archaelogical “your mom” joke. Fantastic. And there’s almost a sex scene, like, right at the beginning, shamelessly and effectively pandering to my demographic, if you know what I mean.
The environment is thoroughly stunning; you’ll often find yourself just looking around at the meticulously crafted scenery, or pausing on top of something tall to just look around. The game’s cinematic style is captivating and not at all over done. Case in point, my roommates who had originally sat down to make fun of me for playing a game that wasn’t FIFA, found themselves entranced 45 minutes later and demanded I not stop playing so they could find out what happened next.
But still, I struggled with the gunplay. So all in all, Uncharted 2 took unexpectedly took a part of my videogame virginity I didn’t even know I still had.