Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Tomb Raider

As I was playing the first chapters of Uncharted 2, a ps3 exclusive game, my older brother remarked; "this is just like a movie," and he made a solid point indeed. Naughty Dog are masters at walking the fine line between film and game. For one thing, the game is built around setpieces, in the same manner of a motion picture. With wonderfully written cutscenes, the point I've been making throughout this blog, that games are the new movies, is alive and well.

The visuals are rather inventive, making special use of camera angles, and the dialogue from the team banter is just phenomenal, right out of a polished screenplay. If Heavenly Sword showed what could be done with the ps3, then U2 pushes it to the limit. Arguably the pinnacle of the series, this sequel reminds me of Mass Effect 2, formerly from that competing console, in that this was also the standout episode in such series. Add the obligatory globe-trotting aspects and you have a winner in your hands.
The parkour style gameplay marks a trend in recent games, in which everyone is a monkey man who can scale just about any wall. But the game's charms somehow allow for enough willing suspension of disbelief to pull off a polished experience. This type of freedom is at times more welcome, in the opinion of this reviewer, than the by now utterly boring sandbox style gaming. In fact, the game shines during exploration as opposed to combat. Uncharted 2 is perhaps too violent, as at times it plays like a war game, and would have benefited from some self-reflection, like a sorrow dream.

The voice actors deliver their lines to perfection, and after all, the talented Claudia Black, of Farscape and Stargate SG-1 fame, is on board, playing Chloe. The voice actors, in fact, performed their motion capture for some of the scenes. It all adds up to a wonderfully cinematic experience; the question then becomes, whether Uncharted 2 would make a good film, since Indiana Jones knockoffs are usually subpar.
The bad guy du jour here is Serbian, hence gladly, not ex Soviet. Since I have spilled enough digital ink on that subject, I refer you to this excellent article. There seems to be a certain nagging problem with the Greatest Hits GOTY edition. 1 GB in updates and the trophies just aren't displayed properly. You try to support the industry by buying brand-new and this is what you get. Yet the quality of the game more than redeems this scenario, of course.