This week I’m playing one of my favourite games of all time. It is a game I can play again and again, and like a good blockbuster it starts with a bang and doesn’t let up till the credits roll. That game is Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, by Naughty Dog.
Every once in a while I’ll play a game that really makes an impression on me–a landmark title if you will. A game everyone can relate to is Super Mario 64 with its pioneering use of analog controls in a fully realized 3D world. Grand Theft Auto 3 is another big one. Finally a game that let me unleash my inner gangster on the helpless denizens of a virtual city! Now don’t be shocked, but I’m going to lump Uncharted in with these greats, because it was with this game that I first felt like I was an active participant in a in a truly cinematic adventure. What I mean to say is that when I play Uncharted I feel like I’m playing a movie.
One of the gripes I’ve always had with games is that no matter how good the acting or writing is, the characters themselves are usually stiffly animated and nowhere near the quality of something you would find in a film. Even today it’s not unusual to see mouths moving about like ventriloquist dummies instead of real people, and this can really spoil a moment, no matter how good the dialogue is. The folks at Naughty Dog recognized this over five years ago, and because they decided to put in the extra effort, the whole cast of Uncharted comes alive like none other. True, the voice actors do an excellent job, but the characters wouldn’t be nearly as endearing if they weren’t so lovingly animated.
Not only does Uncharted’s acting suck you in, but its action does too. It has just about everything I could ask for in an adventure title. There is solid platforming, engaging gunplay, a pulse-pounding car chase, a girl, a treasure and an ancient evil. I will admit that while some of the gameplay mechanics are not perfect (cheap enemy grenade tactics!), Uncharted brings so many things together in such a beautiful package that it’s easy to overlook the small things.
As I play Uncharted again this week, I realize I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done it before. There are so many games sitting untouched on my shelves, and I should probably be playing them instead. Yes, I am replaying Uncharted over Arkham City, Red Dead Redemption and others. Maybe I should have my head examined; I don’t know. Or maybe it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m having fun. I’m thinking that’s the right answer. And I am having fun… crazy, ridiculous, maddening fun… on the “crushing” difficulty setting no less. Platinum trophy, here I come!