written by Blain Newport on Friday, 17 June 2016
I quit my job, so I started digging in on the old PS3 games I bought and never got around to playing.
Uncharted 2 (4 of 5)Nathan Drake goes off in search of ancient treasure again. I got bored and stopped part way through Uncharted 1 because it just didn't move. Uncharted 2 moves pretty well, with traversal, puzzles, combat, and talky / atmospheric bits to maintain variety.
The set piece I've heard podcasters mention multiple times is the train sequence. There are actually multiple train bits, but the main one has you fighting your way from back to front of a train moving from a jungle up into mountains. You fight on top and inside as the train is winding its way to its destination. The gamer's natural enemy (helicopters) attack. There are a lot of games with train levels. Hell, Blood had a train level. But Uncharted 2's goes the extra mile. It's an impressive technical achievement that almost sunk the game.
My favorite bit in the game was the village wander. Nathan is following a man who doesn't speak a language Drake knows through the man's village. You can make Nathan try to talk to people to see if maybe someone else speaks English. You can pet bulls. And when you see kids playing you can make a funny face at them. I think the first bit is done through proximity and the others through button presses but with no prompts. The lack of UI makes these interactions seem more natural and spontaneous.
I petted two bulls. One of them was a little out of the way, and I wondered if I should back track and make sure I got them all. There might be an achievement. But that started ruining the magic, so I let the thought evaporate and pressed on.
Infamous 2 (3 of 5)Infamous is an open world super hero game where you can complete the story as a good or evil character. Much as with Uncharted, I just couldn't push myself to finish the first game in the series, but the sequel was entertaining enough that I saw it through. Part of that was the way they parceled out new abilities. By the time I completed the first game's first zone (of three, if I remember correctly) I felt like I'd seen all the powers and didn't feel like just clearing a bunch of new territory of jerks was going to be much fun. The second game has you unlocking new powers or new variations on current powers throughout. It still drags a bit, and that's with me skipping tons of rinse and repeat side content. They even added a mission builder for players to make their own rinse and repeat side content. Not helping.
Infamous 2 also has train bits. You have to rescue some people from circus cage train cars.
Resistance 3 (3 of 5)Resistance 3 is an alternate history game where the Tunguska meteor of 1908 carried a virus that turned people into high tech alien monsters. As the name implies, things don't go well for the humans, so you're a grizzled resistance fighter striking back at our alien overlords. (Breaking the pattern, Resistance 2 was the entry I couldn't finish in this series.) Resistance 3 is not a bad game, but it feels like a throwback. The visuals are good for the time, but the basic design feels like a PS2 shooter, mostly because there's no regenerating health. You have to find green canisters which sometimes drop from enemies. For being the most important item in the game, they're small and easy to miss, often being obscured by the corpse of the enemy who dropped them.
Resistance 3's train bit involves fighting off a bunch of jerks in jeeps and trucks (way too many to be remotely believable) while you try to escape on a train. I stopped shooting for a bit and realized that many of the enemies chasing us would just crash and die all by themselves. It was weird.