Monday, November 26, 2007

If you love this game so much why don't you marry it? Well, I bought it and that's kind of the same thing...

I picked up Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune on Tuesday night and brought it over to my gamer-wife Mike’s place so that we might have something shiny and new to look at. After passing the controller around for two hours all in attendance were pretty wowed by the lush beauty and tight playability of the title. I started the story myself on Wednesday evening and completed the twelve hour story on Saturday. I devoured this game, I simply couldn’t put it down, and if Uncharted hadn’t already interrupted my progress in Ratchet & Clank then I would fire it up again searching for the treasures and medals I missed.

Uncharted was developed by Naughty Dog exclusively for the PS3. This company rounds out the holy trinity of Sony’s top-tier American developers, the others being Insomniac Games and Sucker Punch Productions. All three companies had big franchises on the PS2 and show no signs of stumbling. What’s better the three are known to enjoy a good business relationship and have even assisted each other’s productions. These are the kinds of arrangements and biographies you want to hear about as a game player; original intellectual property used in a slew of quality titles. Notice the absence of endorsement titles or licensed products? Had they been there I would have mentioned them. This is why I always look back to company history and their track record; it does a good job foretelling the future. So far the only of the above companies we haven’t heard from this generation is Sucker Punch, who is working on a superhero title called Infamous. I’m taking bets that game will kick ass as well.

Uncharted takes all the great things in adventuring and mixes them up into a flawless confection. At its core it’s a pulp-action tale in the spirit of Indiana Jones. It’s a treasure hunting thriller that has you exploring a lush tropical rain forest, ancient Mayan ruins, and deserted Spanish colonies. When things get rough it turns into an exciting third-person shooter that’s as simple to play as it is satisfying. Best of all, the story is compelling, the characters are engaging, the dialogue sounds natural, and there are a couple of plot twists that really take you by surprise.

Visually this game can compete with anything put out on a console; everything is absolutely gorgeous and runs very smooth. Playability-wise you have a character that climbs about like the Prince of Persia and fights like Gears of War. What that means is you are having fun every minute you play no matter what you’re doing. What’s more, Nathan Drake; wise-cracking descendant of Sir Francis and the game’s hero is a supremely likable and believable guy. The sound is wonderful and the musical score is fantastic. From beginning to end this whole game is an exercise in high production values and polish.

The game awards medals and rewards for a wide variety of accomplishments like finding treasures, effective fighting techniques and other interesting challenges. It thickens up the competitive aspects of the game and provides a nice assortment of bells and whistles. With Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Ratchet & Clank Future, and Call of Duty 4 all earning top marks it seems the age of the PS3 has finally come... and it's about time.

The great game that wasn't.

For more video game reading here’s Wired Magazine’s take on Assassin’s Creed. Thanks to Marc for passing it on. It’s a pretty scathing review that echoes the talk I heard about it throughout production.

You see that nasty alien zit that begs to be popped? That's IMMERSION!!!

Getting much higher critical success is Mass Effect; a science fiction RPG. The focus of Mass Effect doesn’t seem to be the fighting or exploring – which I’m told is done well enough – but the interaction and conversations to be had with other characters. I’m going to be picking this one and turning on my X-Box 360 for the first time in over a month so I’ll be chiming in on this one.

The fat, middle aged plumber that just won't go away.

Meanwhile all of you Wiitards out there have what looks to be an A+ game to play as well. Super Mario Galaxy is getting stellar reviews and appears to be making good use of everyone's favourite waggle-box.

Duelling Fake Guitars... Still not as gay as the lead singer of Judas Priest...

Meanwhile in mainstream gaming Guitar Hero seems to have some competition in the form of Rock Band. I see this to be a non-issue. The only complaint lovers of Guitar Hero have ever had is that there aren't enough songs. I don't even understand why these games are sold on disk with only thirty songs a pop or so. They should just set up an iPod Store-like website, have coders do nothing but pump out playable song after song until there is a library of thousands, and sell them individually for a couple bucks a pop. Guitar Hero isn't so much a video game but a new form of digital entertainment; interactive music appreciation.

Notice how many video game articles there are in the mainstream papers? Holiday shopping season must have started.

Can you imagine the orgies to have occurred in a place like this?

In an attempt to eschew any mention of current events I’ll put up this really exceptional story. This is what people who don’t waste their time playing video games do with their lives. It’s an impressive achievement to say the least.

On the other hand...

Of course, if you devote your life to Jesus and elect to never learn anything of worth for the entirety of your life, you are liable to fritter away your days building sets for the Creation Museum. The one with primative man feeding the animals while a dinosaur looks passively on is my favourite.

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