Monday, November 23, 2009

Uncharted 2--further thoughts.

I've previously talked about my initial impressions of Uncharted 2, but now that I've completed the game I figured I would write about my final impressions of the whole game.

The game is solid from beginning to end, there is no denying this.  The dialogue is superb, the story is very intriguing, the game play is perfectly balanced between action, jumping and stealth.  As the story progresses each game play element increases in intensity to end with a frenetic mash of battles over the Cintamani Stone.  It's not unexpected, that the closer you get to the goal or end point in a game that the difficulty would ramp up, but I found myself getting almost hopelessly frustrated with the endgame.  Knowing that I was very close to the end, but fighting off wave after wave of killer zombie/native/beast like mobs was almost a deal breaker.  I played through on Normal but by the end it felt like I was playing on Crushing.  I'm sure that is just my lack of experience with console games or something, but seriously if that was "Normal" hard I don't want to play it on "Crushing" hard.  At what point does playing a game for challenge become an exercise in self control so that you don't throw your controller through your TV?

I enjoy a challenge, but combine that challenge with poor motor skills with a controller, which then translates to really poor aim, which translates to scads of wasted ammo, which translates to relying on the least powerful weapon for taking out said challenge, and you end up with either a shattered TV or a broken controller and a divot on the floor (or both).  Games should be fun.  Games should be challenging.  Games should entertain and enlighten (that is debatable).  But to do all those things should a game lose sight of each for the sake of being a "game"? 

This is a weird loop to ponder.  At what point does a game stop being a game (taking you out of the moment of enjoying the resolution to a great story) and become a series of button mashes, swearing, and unnecessary aggravation?  Does a "good" game constitute great story with little challenge?  Can a challenge overshadow and completely break any story that may have otherwise made a game perfect?  I can think of a few games that I've played recently that fall on both sides.  Killzone 2 has a moderately good story (the game play mechanics worked well), but the end boss kept me from ever finishing the damn game.  Pixel Junk Eden has no story to tell and has a very simple game play mechanic, but add additional challenge as you move through gardens and the game becomes virtually unbeatable.  (With PJ:E, the question begs to be asked what exactly is the ending--and that is something that is up to the individual player and whatever goals you may want to accomplish).  Star Wars Force Unleashed is another game that has a fantastic story and relatively good game play mechanics, but add in wave after wave of bad guys with deadly aim, shields that block lightsabers (WTF?!?) and you break a game in order to make it a "game".

Maybe I'm too old.  I don't think I am though, as my nine year old finds games that are too challenging for the sake of making a game "more game-like" a complete bore.  Challenge is one thing, but excruciating exercise in frustration is another.  Will I continue to play Uncharted 2?  Sure.  There are more treasures to find.  I found 50/100 on my first play through, plus there are additional trophies to get for killing bad guys with different guns.  The multi-player is a blast as well (both co-op and death match).  But will I play Uncharted 2 to get a Platinum?  Not very likely.  Good, fun games shouldn't make you cry yourself to sleep at night. (I kid of course)  That's what real life is for.

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