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Is Uncharted overrated?

Opinion: Tom Pakinkis needs reassuring...

First of all let me make one thing clear: I love Uncharted.

When I finished the original I actually went into a period of mourning. I remember a particular stage of concern from family members - when I was noticeably quieter on the phone.

"What's wrong?" my mother asked.
"Oh nothing," I sighed. "I miss Nate."
"Who's Nate?"
"Just this guy, I don't want to talk about it."

Looking back, perhaps I should have explained a little bit more.

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The fact that Nathan Drake so quickly became a mate you've not had a pint with for far too long; the way Sully instantly felt like the uncle that gave you a Swiss Army Knife for your 10th birthday with a wink that said "don't tell your mother"... it's something most of us felt with lasting effect.

It's testament to the game's genre-leading scripting, cinematic direction, characterisation and cast.

Uncharted's other showcase feature, its absolutely beautiful presentation, only served to help the whole experience absorb into the soul and stick around until Uncharted 2. I'm not going to call Uncharted's visuals something hyperbolic like 'breathtaking' - my breath hasn't literally been taken since I went cliff diving in Turkey and realised I was going to land sitting down - but they're crisp, detailed, rich and a strong case for the argument of gaming as art.

Believe it or not though, there are some that refuse to hold Naughty Dog's action adventure as gaming's golden boy. It's true, I know one of them. He wishes to remain anonymous.

When I tried to make the point to this particular misguided monkey that Uncharted 2 is probably the best game of the generation, he said something annoying like, "I don't get what all the fuss is about."

I clenched a fist around the TV remote and turned the volume on CSI: Miami right down, so that he could hear what all the fuss was about perfectly clearly.

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I gave him the spiel about the characters, the love triangles, the compelling plot twists, the epic train sequence, the last-ditch shoot-outs, the lush jungles, the breathtaking vistas (I was trying to sell it).

But rather than accepting my argument, yielding and letting us both get back to a bit of David Caruso, he countered. He claimed that, Hollywood credentials aside, Uncharted has always been a pretty straight-forward, linear shooter. And he had a point.

He alluded to the Mass Effect series, with an array of characters that are equally personable, authentic and memorable once the game is over and could actually be interacted with on a (seemingly) deep and meaningful level.

He told me to screw the linear jungle levels, reminding me that Bioware had provided me with an entire, surprising and incredibly polished galaxy to explore at my leisure.

He said if I wanted awe-inspiring views then I should climb to the top of a Venetian tower in Assassin's Creed II, "And, while you're up there, remind yourself that you can actually walk, run, jump and climb to everything you can see."

I was gob-smacked. I'd invited this so called friend into my house for a beer and a US drama and he'd gone and attacked my whole belief system. Even worse, when I checked the chambers of my verbal shotgun, they were baron. I had nothing.

When I ran all the uncharted ground I had charted as Nathan Drake back through my mind it was indeed a straight line of destructible cover, negotiable drops and faceless enemy waves, albeit wrapped in some extremely shiny, brilliant paper.

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