Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

October 23, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews

Screen

Overview

Title: Uncharted 2

Release Date: 16th October 2009

Developer/Publisher: Naughty Dog/Sony Computer Entertainment America

Genre: Third Person Action Adventure

Platform[s]: Playstation 3

Storyline

Uncharted 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed PS3 exclusive from developers Naughty Dog has arrived a little under two years after the original and once again finds roguish hero Nathan Drake on the trail of fortune and glory. An artefact found in a ship that was part of Marco Polo’s lost journey returning from China in 1292 leads Drake, Victor Sullivan and new allies Chloe Frazer & Harry Flynn on the trail of the “wish-fulfilling” Cintimani Stone. As with any good action adventure all does not go to plan however and twists and turns along the way see Nathan in a race against time and a gang of mercenaries lead by a crazed war criminal to be the first to reach the treasure.

Gameplay

While the original Uncharted was seen as a poster boy for the then underused power of the PS3, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves truly is an amazing step in really showing what the console is capable of. All features and characters from the original are present and correct but it is apparent right from the start that Naughty Dog have not rested on their laurels and churned out a carbon-copy sequel, instead fashioning what is one of the most visually stunning and groundbreaking titles of this console generation.

Screen2

Obvious comparisons will always be made to the Tomb Raider series and more recently Gears of War and its’ sequel on Xbox 360 but I truly cannot remember enjoying a game as much and feeling the urge to carry on playing into the wee small hours in a long time, if indeed ever. With regard to the breaking of new ground I feel that you have to look back as far as the original Tomb Raider on PS1 to find an equal and, dare I say it, the spectacular set pieces from the Gears of War and Killzone series are distant memories once you have played through the first few levels of Uncharted 2.

The developer has made a conscious effort to improve the maligned aspects of the original such as the repetitive ledge-to-ledge jumping (or in my case plunging to my doom) and room-clearing gunplay as well as the underwhelming but much trumpeted hand-to-hand combat system that prevented Drakes Fortune from receiving higher review scores overall. Four difficulty levels from Very Easy to Hard also make this accessible to a wide range of players who may possibly be more used to the FPS genre with the added bonus that you can change the difficulty on the fly.

In almost all aspects of the improvements the creases have been well and truly ironed out although a few niggly moments in climbing sections require you to try a few times in order for your character to realise where you are trying to get to next. Also fairly early on a number of enemies appear that are near impossible to defeat which, while not a bad thing as far as difficulty goes, can be a frustrating leap up from the more general enemies that are encountered. There is also a level, which by means of a flash-forward at the very start of the game, is somewhat repeated later on but even this is handled differently the second time around so it’s absolutely not a game-breaker.

The selection of landscapes in which levels take place along with swings in tempo where one moment you find yourself fleeing down narrow streets from a truck or hanging from a train while escaping a helicopter gunship are then countered with sections through chilling icy levels and a near silent breather through a Himalayan village.

The truly great script includes some genuine laughs and the neatly paced scattering of set-pieces really does make this seem more action film than action game. Attention to detail is also spot on with the puzzle-breaking Journal (called into action on numerous occasions throughout the game) containing many revealing insights into the character of Nathan Drake ranging from graphs of scariness, the bottom level of which is shown to be Sully’s moustache! to a list of Drake’s girlfriends past.

Screen3

New to this series is the introduction of Multiplayer which includes many of the standard modes such as Deathmatch, Elimination, King of the Hill and the Domination-like Chain Reaction which provides players with the option to extend their playing experience beyond the single-player campaign and also includes co-op levels and machinima mode along with multiplayer cinema replay mode. This is however extra icing on the cake to what is the major draw of the title, namely the main storyline.

Graphics

You may have already picked up that graphically this game is stunning. On an HD display the 720p vistas have such high levels of detail that you will find yourself wishing that the single player had a cinema mode also that would let you pause the game, swing the camera around and simply stare at what surrounds your character. Indeed on levels such as Locomotion there’s so much detail missed as you rumble along hanging onto or running across the top of the train that I started to wonder how much time the team had spent drawing this largely unseen yet amazing scenery. In fact, Naughty Dog have stated in interviews that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves uses between 90 & 100% of the Cell Processor’s power and takes up nearly the full capacity of the 25GB available to them on the Blu-Ray and you have to say that it shows.
It’s also quite telling in the 11 hours and 11 minutes that my first play through took that the statistics screen tells me I stood still for 1 hour and 40 minutes – admiring the views !

Sound

I played the game both through a home cinema amp and using headphones (for late-night playing into the early hours – it really is worth losing sleep over) and in both instances the sound field including explosions & gunshots, crashing cars, trucks & locomotives through to the serenity of children playing in the Himalayan village and birds tweeting in the jungle were perfectly balanced.

Audiophiles are more than catered for with audio mode selections including Stereo, Stereo Headphones, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM 5.1 and PCM 7.1 taking full advantage of pretty much every setup that anyone may play the game through.

Overall Score and Replayability

With obvious nods to the Indiana Jones series and The Empire Strikes Back amongst others this truly mindblowing game goes further in blurring the line between game and film as entertainment media than any preceding it. Where Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare included superb storytelling, level variation and multiplayer excellence, this includes all of that and characters that you feel an affinity towards by the time the credits roll.
I can’t wait to start my next playthrough of the single player campaign, trophy support and multiplayer will add longevity and variation as needed and there is even a Twitter feed update option that, although seemingly broken at the moment, will tweet level and chapter progress as you go and annoy your friends !

Final words – one of the best games I have played in a very long time, if you have a PS3, 11-15 hours available to you and are 15 or over (the BBFC is still watching after all ;-) ) buy it, buy it, buy it. You will absolutely not be disappointed.

Daily Star Outs “Video-Game Pervs”

October 14, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, PC, Playstation, Xbox

MW2

The paper that boldly claims it’s simply the best 7 days a week has this week found another avenue down which to attack that which they do not understand in their story entitled “Goggles on for a Pervy Night Out…”

In this piece they say

GEEKY computer game fans are set to become an army of ogling pervs thanks to a giveaway of night-vision goggles with an edition of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Apparently the proof that “joypad junkies are rubbing their hands in anticipation at stealth dogging” are based on quotes from gaming forums which have lead to the Prestige Edition of the game being dubbed Modern Warfare 2: Peeping Tom Edition! (by the paper only as far as my research shows)

They also inform us that “HMVs entire stock of this £170 edition has already been snapped up by gaming nuts”

As well as the release of Modern Warfare 2, I personally cannot wait for the release of Newspaper Editor: Irony-Free edition which is due to be released around the same time.

Modern Warfare 2 is released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on November 10 and is available for pre-order at all good retailers and dimly lit car-parks.

Ryo Hazuki races onto Next-Gen

October 8, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox

Sonic

Hands up and sorry if anyone clicked on this story thinking that Shemue III had finally been announced but the title isn’t exactly untrue.

Sega have announced that everyone’s favourite forklift truck driver will feature in the upcoming Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with his ride being the motorbike he tore around town on in Shenmue II. Even more impressive is the fact that Ryu’s special move sees him hopping into a fork-lift truck. Finally Fork-Lift truck racing in HD ;-)

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Trailer

Other characters include Sonic & his stable-mates Miles, Knuckles, Dr Eggman & Amy along with Beat from Jet Set/Grind Radio, Amigo from Samba De.. and Aiai from Monkey Ball amongst others.

This Kart racing game hopes to act as a multi-platform Mario Kart-a-like when it releases for for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS and PC on February 10, 2010.

FIFA 10 gets its’ face on

October 8, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Playstation, Xbox

Fifa 10

FIFA 10, the newly crowned best selling sports game of all time, which has notched up 1.7 million sales across Europe in its’ first week on sale is slowly but surely ironing out the post-release bugs that have appeared across all formats since launch.

Speaking on the EA forums and via his Twitter account, EA Sports community manager Romilly Broad announced that Game Face is now working meaning that all web & online features of the game are now back up and running.

Another highly anticipated feature, Live Season 2.0, is however still missing in action with EA unable at present to provide a firm date as to the enabling of the feature.

In the meantime however there’s plenty to keep players occupied in-game and the current 92 score on Metacritic is sure to be keeping Peter Moore happy !

PES 2010 Screenshots & Wii Trailer released

October 1, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox

PES 2010

Konami have today released two further nuggets of information for fans eagerly awaiting the launch of PES 2010.

The first is the set of screenshots seen below detailing the incredibly lifelike graphics set to be seen in the game, featuring the England team in all their glory, complete with blemishes and hairy arms !

graphics06_big

Secondly the trailer for the Wii version, released on November 20 has been released which highlights the many Wii specific features that are to be included – get your Wiimotes ready !

PES 2010 is released October 23 on XBox 360, PS3 and PC  with the Wii version following shortly after on November 20

80s Classic Digger Rumbles on PSN

October 1, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Playstation

 

Digger

Released today in the US and on October 8 on the European PSN is the HD revamp of the much loved 80s puzzler Digger.

Players control a little construction vehicle that must make its way through an underground maze. Gamers dig through the dirt horizontally and vertically to create their own path while collecting power-ups, jewels, coins and other bonuses while avoiding the pursuing monsters.

Originally released on the PC in 1983 this 21st century update includes Trophies, HD graphics and, as has become the norm with recent classic makeovers, the ability to switch to “Old School” mode.

“Super” Street Fighter IV Images Leaked ?

September 28, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Playstation, Xbox

SF4

In what’s likely to provoke the Dragon Punch heard round the world early photos have leaked showing what is purported to be the upcoming new game teased by Capcom on their ?????? site, Super Street Fighter IV.

The internet has been ablaze with rumours of what this New Warrior game will be with all set to be revealed at 9am British Summer Time tomorrow.

Hadoken!

God of War 3 demo up and coming

September 24, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Playstation

gow3

Sony of America has today announced that  it will be sexy time for Kratos earlier than expected (for our American cousins at least) as the God of War III demo showcased at Comic-Con and PAX will be included via an in-pack redemption code in the soon to be released God of War Collection on PS3.

For those of you unversed in the collection, this comprises the original two PS2 God of War titles with a spanky new 720p makeover. The bad news is that, at present, this $40 collection is to be released in the US only (Boo ! ) but the good news is that is it region unlocked (Hurray ! ) so those of us with an internet connection can already pre-order (Double Hurray ! )

Sega leaks Sony PS3 secret plans

September 22, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Playstation

PS3

In a move that will no doubt have Sonic wagging his finger furiously a news piece appeared and was then hastily removed on segapr.segaamerica.com this morning blowing the cover on some on Sony’s upcoming plans for PSN network and backwards compatibility on the PS3.

Being quick on the mouse we managed to grab the below which details the juiciest details from this “secret” meeting

Sonic Anniversary
Could put out collectors edition with all old sonic games on one BD disc.

“Best of Sonic” for around $99.
SCEA would love PSN exclusive power ups/different game modes (like Castlevania’s flip it over/backwards)

PS2 emulator for PS3 (confidential)
SCEA wants to sell all PS2 titles on PSN (GTA Vice City/Sonic/etc)
For co Marketing money show PS3 controller on TV ads – similar to EA Madden Spots, NCAA, etc…

London Olympics
Perfect opportunity for Motion Controller integration.

DC Digital Titles
If we provide a list of DC titles SCEA will let us know which ones they’re interested in having exclusively.
If we give them a long period of exclusivity they’ll give us more marketing support.

PSP Titles
For SKU differentiation it’s best to offer features that are slightly different from PS3 version.
Titles that are coming up on PSP are Assassin’s Creed II, GTA China Wars, Resident Evil, Little Big Planet – all massive franchises.
SCEA has a specific PSP deck which they can send up with their hardware director for a chat.

Of the above it is no doubt the PS2 backwards compatibility and Dreamcast digital titles that will be most eagerly awaited….watch this space

Blur Crashes out of 2009

September 21, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under News, Playstation, Xbox

Blur3

Briatore nowhere to be seen

Making good on CEO Michael Griffith’s promise that “Blur will do for racing games what Call of Duty did for shooters” Activision have today announced that Blur will be diverted past the heavily congested November games traffic onto an as yet unspecified 2010 release saying

“We are committed to making Blur a great new racing franchise, and we are very encouraged by the game’s design,” stated Mike Griffith, President and CEO, Activision Publishing. “The additional time will allow the studio to fully optimize the vision they set out to create for Blur including a distinctive and groundbreaking multiplayer mode that will appeal to a broad audience.”

This is the latest in a long line of games moved back from late 2009 to 2010 (including the much-anticipated Bioshock 2), most of which have been ducking away terrified of the upcoming behemoth that is Activision’s own Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 which seems to be sniping all that stand in the way of its’ 10th November 09 release.

Next Page »