>Quick Thoughts on Brutal Legend / Uncharted 2

>I won’t write about Brutal Legend just yet. It’s clearly a labor of love by Tim Schafer and his DoubleFine team, and it wouldn’t be fair to talk about it before I’ve finished it. The reason why I haven’t finished it, though, is that the RTS-lite stage battles make me miserable, and every time I fire the game up I do everything I can to avoid having to do them. As a result, I’ve explored about as much of the world as I can, and I’ve found a whole bunch of the secret collectible stuff, and so now the game exists in two distinct halves for me; there’s the half where the world is awesome and the artistic vision really shines through and everything is hilarious and fun, and then there’s the half where I take the game out of the tray and wait for my rental copy of Borderlands to arrive.
Wait, didn’t I say I wasn’t going to write about Brutal Legend just yet? Shit.

I will write about Uncharted 2, though, and I’ll do my best to speak coherently about it; it’s been a few days since I finished it, and hopefully I’ve flushed most of the excess hyperbole out of my system.

Because I’m not as great a writer as I like to think I am, I’m not entirely sure I made the point I wanted to make when I got all pissy about Adam Sessler calling U2 the best game he’d ever played. (After all, something’s got to be the best game you’ve ever played, and now that I’ve played it, U2 is as good a choice as any.) The point really should’ve been that there are better, more responsible ways for a critic to speak about something s/he is reviewing; otherwise, you’re basically writing pull quotes for the box art, and it makes me suspicious.

And the truth of the matter is that U2 is fucking fantastic. For all that it might lack in innovation, it is exceedingly ambitious; Naughty Dog strove to make the best action adventure game ever made, and to that end, they succeeded beyond any reasonable expectation. They have set the bar immeasurably high. U2 is at the very least the finest PS3 game of this generation and will probably keep that distinction for the rest of the PS3’s lifespan, and if something even better somehow comes along, we will all be the better for it.

It is perfectly, relentlessly paced; exploration glides into action and back again, within the most beautifully constructed locales ever seen in digital form. Perhaps you’ve heard of the train sequence; it’s easy to talk about and it occurs early enough in the game that you can talk about it without really giving anything away. Other games have featured action set-pieces on moving trains – one of the Splinter Cell sequels immediately comes to mind – but here, the train isn’t just moving along a straight line, in the dark, past the same few lightposts over and over again. You’re in the jungle, in broad daylight, and the train’s course is constantly undulating back and forth, which means you have to compensate and anticipate the train’s movements when you’re trading gunfire and tossing grenades; not only are you fighting enemies but you’re also trying to move to the front car, which means you’re also climbing all over the train and dodging signposts and traffic signals; oh and there’s also a helicopter shooting rockets at you. It’s all you can do to remind yourself to blink and exhale.

I haven’t tried the multiplayer or the co-op yet, but even so – the single-player campaign is a staggering achievement in interactive entertainment, and is absolutely deserving of all the accolades it has received.

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