>Everything Old is New Again: Uncharted

>I’m resurrecting the “Everything Old is New Again” feature, and we’re changing the ground rules a little bit. As you no doubt surely recall, EOiNA was originally intended to be an ongoing series wherein we’d play classic games for the first time, and I started it off with a few entries regarding my very first playthrough of Final Fantasy 7. As it happens, I got stuck about 10 hours into the game (couldn’t seem to get a chocobo, iirc), and then my 360 got back from the repair shop, and I returned my borrowed copy of FF7 to its rightful owner. (As FF7 is now available on the PSN, and my save files still work, I do expect to return to it at some point.)

That said, I’m resurrecting EOiNA because I’ve been (re)playing Uncharted for the last few days, and as it happens, I’ve got quite a few things I’ve gotta say about it. But let me set the scene first:

1. The wife and I have recently gotten sucked into Firefly, which we recently Netflix’d. We’d caught Serenity on some movie channel a little while ago and liked it very much and figured we ought to give the series a shot. And so while it’s true that Captain Malcolm Reynolds has quite a bit in common with, say, Han Solo, he also bears more than a passing resemblance to good old Nathan Drake. So much so, in fact, that I double-checked Nathan Fillion’s IMDB page to make sure he wasn’t Drake’s voice-actor. (I do not remember him being in Jade Empire, and I played that game twice.)

2. I haven’t really done that much gaming on the ol’ PS3 these days. Yes, I recently finished (and enjoyed) InFamous, but aside from the very occasional Trash Panic session, there really just hasn’t been all that much to do. So I’ve been feeling neglectful.

3. Going into E3 this year, I had most of my attention squarely focused on a few selected titles, specifically Mass Effect 2, Brutal Legend, and The Beatles: Rock Band. (My affection for the original notwithstanding, my hopes were not very high for Bioshock 2, and that hasn’t changed much.) And sure, the new Splinter Cell footage was pretty encouraging, and Assassin’s Creed 2 turned a lot of heads. But when all was said and done, I came away from E3 2009 with Uncharted 2 at the very top of my wishlist. Even without the multiplayer, which I probably won’t play very much of anyway, the single-player footage looked absolutely amazing, and reminded me of how much I enjoyed the first one.

And so here we are, in the doldrums of the summer release calendar. A perfect opportunity to revisit the original Uncharted, one of the brightest spots in the PS3’s launch.

For the most part, the game is still excellent. The graphics are still lush and colorful, the environments are nicely varied, the platforming controls are still tight and intuitive, the pacing is just right, the story is engaging and remarkably well-written, with one of the better all-around voice cast ensemble performances of this (or any) generation…

…And, of course, the enemies are still relentless and bulletproof. For what at first glance appeared to be a prettied-up Tomb Raider clone, the game’s ratio of combat-to-platforming is about 80:20, and it can get wearying at times, even on the Easy difficulty setting. You can pepper an enemy in the upper torso 3 or 4 times and they’ll simply stagger about – headshots are the only way to really keep a guy down, and even then they don’t always work. This was my single biggest complaint the first time around, and it hasn’t changed this time, either – it’s not uncommon to feel like you must be doing something wrong, that the rest of the game is so incredibly polished and so it must be that you’re not shooting the bad guys in the head hard enough. It’s great that the enemies are smart – they flank you and throw grenades and considering that you’re heavily outnumbered, it’s not a surprise that you die so often. I just wish the weapons felt a bit more powerful.

I wish I could say that it’s worth a 2nd playthrough for the Trophies, but I don’t really give a shit about the PS3’s Trophy system. It’s nice that I’m getting them, I guess, but the PS3’s Trophy system is arcane and impossible to quantify. It’s an added bonus if you care about it; I do not. It’s to the game’s immense credit, though, that it does not matter one bit.

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