Uncharted: The Gears Of War Killer?
I'll make this abundantly clear off the bat: despite some of the more significant technical glitches in Gears of War 2, it was easily one of the best games of 2008 and certainly one of the best of the generation. However, I found Uncharted: Drake's Fortune to be a cleaner, and ultimately more entertaining, production. Yes, I'm talking about the first Uncharted and the most recent Gears. Considering that it's silly to compare either Resistance 2 or Killzone 2 to Gears, the closest PlayStation 3-exclusive competitor is Naughty Dog's new series. ...and in all honesty, I see Uncharted eventually surpassing Epic's series in terms of overall quality and fun factor (yes, I'm aware the latter is subjective).
Even though there was plenty of critical acclaim and the game sold very well, I still think Drake's Fortune is one of the most overlooked titles of the generation. This is due to a number of factors: first, the PS3 had been out for only a year - and a rough year at that - when the game launched, and it simply didn't reach a very large audience. Second, it wasn't an established franchise and typically, IPs don't fare as well as hotly anticipated sequels. Third, Sony's bad marketing and promotion left Uncharted out in the cold, but we're starting to see a reversal in that lagging advertising, as Killzone 2 is gonna be seen everywhere. Taking all this into account, I see Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as being one of the biggest PS3 releases thus far, and it should cement the 2009 holiday season. As for the impending Gears of War 3, I'm sure it'll be awesome, but...
Look, I'm just breaking this down in my head. Visually speaking, Uncharted 2 is gonna be amaaaaazing. In a recent interview I did with David Jaffe, he said he's seen some of what Naughty Dog is doing with this sequel, and his praise was high. He even said he'd love to work on a massive project like that in the future! And we've all seen the teaser debut trailers, right? Drool much? So I'm telling you right now: unless there's a significant graphical leap in Gears of War 3, Uncharted 2 will look just as good, if not better. In terms of sound, I enjoyed the soundtrack more in Uncharted, and I'll say the voice acting and effects are pretty similar in terms of excellent quality. Gameplay is tough; both are so fluid and so incredible in what they offer the player. But there really wasn't much of a difference in Gears 2 in comparison to the original, and I've heard about several important enhancements to the Uncharted 2 gameplay foundation. This is just speculation, but I'm trying to base it on hard evidence.
I've no doubt that I'll play both Gears of War 3 and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, but I'm predicting that the latter will set the bar for third-person action/adventure titles this generation. ...and I'm not willing to bet the farm that the third Gears can leap over that bar. That's all I'm saying.
2/4/2009 Ben Dutka