This fall continues to be a good season for games. The latest: “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” is an excellent and addictive action-adventure where you portray an Indiana Jones-styled explorer searching for the lost treasures of Shangri-La, as you follow clues left behind by Marco Polo.
I know that sounds nerdy and familiar (Lara Croft-ish), but this is a beautiful shooting-and-climbing game, featuring unpredictable story lines and quirky twists, tongue-in-cheek cinema scenes and clever dialogue delivered by perfectly cast actors.
The game begins with one of the best starts I’ve ever seen, as you, Nate Drake, wake up, sitting on a train seat. The train is not in motion. You look out the window and the world appears sideways, because inexplicably the train is dangling by a thread over a snowy cliff. How did you get here?
In the next five minutes: You nearly fall out of this broken train car, then you use basic wall-climbing techniques to climb up the outside and inside walls of the shaky train, reaching the cliff before the train falls off the ledge into a great void of lovely, snowy forest far below.
At this point in the game, you may think, “Well, this game won’t be as pretty or creative as this during the rest of its time.” But you’d be wrong. “Among Thieves” ranges, level to level, from basic fun to outright awesome, never dipping into suck or even average.
You travel from Nepal to Borneo and beyond, dodging through forests and cityscapes, sneaking up on bad guys and breaking necks, or shooting them down en masse.
Your nemeses are rival explorers who shoot at you, set you up for double-crosses and generally act like jerks.
Along this perilous and precarious path, there comes lots of fairly amusing dialogue, delivered by actors such as Nolan North, a soap opera pro who voices Nate. North’s voice delivers urgency but lightheartedness. He makes Nate a confident but unthreatening everyman.
At one point, you kill a bunch of bad guys in one room, then turn to a female explorer by your side, and Nate (North) teases rather than taunts her: “Are you impressed I got all those guys by myself?”
My favorite noir-ish conversation: A female explorer turns to a bad guy’s henchman and demands to know, “How can you work for that monster?” The henchman, in an unfettered British accent, quips, “Beats workin’ against him, love.”
The only downer: Controls can respond slowly, sometimes.
Online, you can play multiplayer-competitive, or three-person cooperative shootouts.
In all, you climb vines, squeeze through tight spaces, hide behind many obstacles while shooting at villains with rifles and dart guns, solve ancient Indiana Jones-ish puzzles involving rocks and maps, and shimmy across many a ledge.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s worth buying the PlayStation 3 for this PS 3-only game. But if you play an Xbox 360 but not a PS 3, “Uncharted 2” is another reason why you’re missing out.
(“Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” by Sony retails for $60 for PS 3 — Plays addictively fun. Looks fantastic. Moderately challenging. Rated “T” for blood, language, suggestive themes and violence. Four stars out of four.)
Contact Doug Elfman at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.NEW IN STORES
“Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time” will be greeted by the hard-core “Ratchet & Clank” fan base with quite the fanfare, since it appeals to players drawn to solid cartoon games ensconced in shooting, puzzle-solving, crate-breaking and platform-jumping, all bundled up in a cute package.
“A Crack in Time,” which is already garnering very good preview-reviews, continues to offer you a pretty sizable world to work your way through, playing mostly as Ratchet but also as Crank. As it begins, Crank is off on his own adventure, and Ratchet goes looking for Crank.
The visuals are very inspired. The tone is humorous. The game play will be familiar to fans. Once again, you blow things up, and these blown-up things explode into coinlike currency of a sort. You upgrade your weapons, and so forth.
The game retails for $60 for PS 3. It’s rated “E 10+” for animated blood, comic mischief and fantasy violence.
“Tekken 6” comes with 40 martial artists to choose from, who battle each other through floors and walls in this latest “Tekken” fighter. You can play solo offline, or cooperative. You can create your own customized character. And you earn money to buy clothes that give you better odds of pulling off moves, a la the “Tiger Woods” costume store.
Among the wacky, supernatural fighters, there are those that sprout wings, fight with chain saws for hands, hand rivals their own head which explodes like a bomb, shoot lasers out of their eyes, or generally just appear as a panda, a kangaroo or an anime Japanese girl in a skirt.
The game retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; it comes out in November for PSP, at $40. It’s rated “T” for alcohol reference, crude humor, mild language, suggestive themes and violence.
“Madagascar Kartz” is a straight-up kart racer. You can play as the cartoon’s heroes — Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria, King Julien or the penguins, plus other DreamWorks moneymakers such as Shrek.
This comes with 20 jungle, beach and other tracks based on the movies, including ramps, stunts, power-ups and other racing-kart stand-bys.
The game retails for $30 for Wii, Xbox 360 and PS 3; $20 for DS. It’s rated “E” for comic mischief.
— By DOUG ELFMAN