Uncharted 2: Among Thieves PS3

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves PS3
The first Uncharted was unheralded, an out-of-nowhere blast of awesome that finally let PS3 owners brag about the console's software, not just its hardware. Sure, its Indiana Jones-aping approach had previously been pixelated by Tomb Raider but Uncharted's art direction, plotting, pace and voice acting were practically unparalleled. Now it's been out-wowed by a sequel that does exactly what it should ― fix what didn't work, refine what did and elevate the game. Maybe game sequels are often better than movie sequels because once the developers have already nailed the technical details in the first outing they're free to focus on story and game-play. Certainly, Uncharted 2 has gone beyond its borrowed beginnings to become a unique (if not necessarily innovative) franchise. Feisty, yet world-weary, fortune hunter Nathan Drake finally feels like his own man, while Naughty Dog, who made their name with the cartoon-ish Jak and Daxter platformer series, gleefully shows off its increased cinematic storytelling skills. (There is also a separate multiplayer game included but it's almost irrelevant compared to the masterful single-player action-adventure.) The production values are impeccable and the incorporation of cut-scenes, character development, dialogue and set pieces ―right from the game's eye-poppingly epic opening involving a train wreck and an icy cliff ― are like a lesson in game design. The puzzles are clever, the A.I. even more so and the environments are among gaming's most beautifully realized. After a bout of gunplay, you'll be hard-pressed not to take a breather to take in your surroundings. As Drake globe-hops from Istanbul to Borneo to Tibet in search of the lost Himalayan kingdom of Shangri-La, following Marco Polo's trail while dodging a rival fortune hunter and his Serbian war criminal boss, the game easily eclipses last year's Indy flick in both looks and execution. Uncharted 2 may have arrived under the weight of heightened expectations but Naughty Dog not only shouldered the load, they found themselves a franchise that's not just cinematic, it's better than most movies. (Naughty Dog/Sony)