This coming weekend, Naughty Dog will be adding a few treats for gamers in Uncharted 2: new, free multiplayer map ‘The Fort‘, in-game player card, and leaderboards. Just for the weekend itself, there’s likely to be Double XP according to TheSixthAxis. Might be enough to peel me away from Assassin’s Creed II hmm.
I can’t believe my luck this year: I’m an avid gamer, and I find myself spoilt for choice at the moment. This is one of those years in which the sheer amount of quality games releases have well and truly out-stripped my budget! With several games that could legitimately be called ‘Game Of The Year’, I’ve been wondering if 2009 could be called a vintage year for video games?
SO, let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?
Killzone 2 (February 2009)
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Killzone 2 kicked off the start of the year’s gaming heavyweights with a solid FPS following on from the events in the first game on the PS2. Killzone is to the PlayStation franchise like Halo is to the Xbox franchise. Now, I love my FPS games, but Killzone 2 just didn’t do it for me. Graphics to die for and gameplay to match? Is that not enough for me?! Well, I only have so much money this year, and I have been saving my money for the big releases in the last half of the year. I’m not ruling out buying this at bargain basement prices in the future.
Resident Evil 5 (March 2009)
Resi followed on in fine form with perhaps a repetitive formula (pardon the pun) but with great visuals, a new and interesting setting for the series so far, and good gameplay. I get scared silly with zombies and their kind, which is why I’ve avoided this release so far. Maybe I’ll pick up this game in the future just out of curiosity. But seriously, zombies. I shudder at the thought.
When I found out that one of my favourite games of all time, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, was getting a sequel I already knew it was going to be great. I mean, it had to be, right? With Naughty Dog constantly striving to push the bar ever-higher and with the PS3 as a platform, great things were going to be accomplished. The end product is a masterpiece. Every PS3 gamer should grab a copy- heck anyone who’s remotely interested in gaming should pay some serious attention. Uncharted 2 has set a new standard in video games for character interaction, visuals, and gameplay.
Some people will have you believe that Uncharted 2 is the video game of the century, but in my eyes it is simply the game of the moment. And rightly so. The original Uncharted’s perks and flaws weigh quite heavily in my opinion of its sequel, leading me to reach a different conclusion to the majority of the gaming press. The original for me, remains a classic and perhaps purer experience. In some respects it felt like next-generation gaming due to intelligent level design. Exploring the Fortress immediately springs to mind: remaining local to one area, gradually scaling different levels and reaching new areas. In contrast Uncharted 2 flits back and forth between a myriad of locations a la Indiana Jones. This is no bad thing in itself, it’s just that as in my opinion there was nothing particularly bad about the original game, it means I’ve not fallen in love with the sequel like most people have.
If you’re reading this and you’ve not yet played the beta, then yes, either by robbing a bank or bribing Naughty Dog you somehow need to get into the Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta right now. It’s that good. For those who have pre-order Uncharted 2 or managed to snag a beta key, access is granted from September 15th. I’m led to believe that general availability of the beta is September 29th.
My initial thoughts: graphics are dripping with quality, gameplay is solid and spot-on, and overall it’s serious fun!
I dn’t know where to start with this initial hands-on look. I suppose I’d like to mention first that I was very, very sceptical of the prospect of multiplayer within the Uncharted franchise. After all, the original Uncharted remains my favourite game so far, and going through the single player adventure was enjoyable, but it was my experience, and so Uncharted felt like my personal, special game and I didn’t really want to share it with anyone.
Now that my disclosure is out of the way, I’d like to tell you right now that everything I thought before was wrong. Naughty Dog have treated the Uncharted franchise with continuity, fluidity, and respect. So much so that the multiplayer experience behaves and feels like the authentic Uncharted experience you remembered from the first game: perfect. Added game mechanics, such as grabbing riot shields for cover, and lugging around heavy relics, feel like natural extensions to existing abilities.
Ars Technica has a detailed and informative interview with Christophe Balestra, co-president of Naughty Dog about why Uncharted 2 couldn’t be made on the 360; involving the technology utilised behind the scences, but crucially Naughty Dog’s role and responsibility of being a first party developer and how their experience feeds into the wider developer community.
There’s been a couple of games that I’ve been really excited about for a long time now that are currently on the horizon, and will be with us later this year: Assassin’s Creed 2 and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. With E3, we’ve all been deluged with plenty of information about both games. Here’s a round-up of what I’ve been reading and found to be most interesting:
Assassin’s Creed 2
- Assassin’s Creed 2 E3 09 Q&A- PlayStation.Blog.US
- Assassin’s Creed 2 will end with a cliffhanger- Joystiq
- Jesper Kyd returning to compose Assassin’s Creed 2 soundtrack- Joystiq
- Assassin’s Creed 2 unlockables tied to PSP version- Joystiq (Some pretty sweet synergy between the PS3 and PSP: I’ll be keeping my eye on this one)
- Assassin’s Creed 2 launches November 17- Joystiq (This is the all-important date!)
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
- E3 Interview: We Track Down Uncharted 2: Among Thieves- PlayStation.Blog.Europe
(particularly excellent article)
- Impressions: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and old flings- Joystiq (Provides some interesting commentary and analysis in the last paragraph)
- ‘All Uncharted 2 posts’- Joystiq (Heck, I’ve included this link as Joystiq provides some of the best coverage for Uncharted 2- keep your eyes peeled in future for more articles!)
E3 Interview – PlayStation.Blog.Europe Tracks Down Uncharted 2: Among Thieves– I’m still amazed by the footage shown at E3, but as ever, I want more, as I’m a huge Uncharted fan. The interview is very insightful, and has a link to a trailer: all of which you see is either actual gameplay, or cutscenes rendered using the same in-game engine. Oh yes.
Uncharted 2 preview in Game Informer reveals juicy details– Interesting to hear of Drake’s new sidekick: Chloe Frazer, voiced by Claudia Black (Stargate SG-1)… but what about Elena and Sully?! Also interesting to note:
The game will also reportedly use “nearly 100%” of the PS3’s power (Drake’s Fortune has been quoted as using 30%)
Naughty Dog: Uncharted 2 Teaser is Real-Time– If you read the article, it’s absolutely true. It was the same with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune which is probably why it earned accolades of best-looking game. Seriously though, on top of everything else, the visuals in this series are something rather special to behold.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Revealed– Words cannot describe how excited I am about this. The original Uncharted was everything I loved about games: great plot, an amazing sound track, visuals to die for, and super-tight controls. In other words, the perfect package. I can’t wait to find out more about Uncharted 2!