Who could not have fallen head over heels in love with Uncharted 2's tightly honed action sequences, gorgeous design, and pitch-perfect dialogue? It is, in my mind, currently the finest action-adventure experience of this generation.
I say experience because the Uncharted series doesn't conform to the wearying production-line mentality that blights the context and narrative of so many other blockbuster titles. Both Uncharted games are singular, unique entities that stand confidently on their own individual merits - while the sequel is easily the superior game, each is a well-rounded and complete adventure that sticks to some basic plot mechanics but executes them perfectly, and without the need for messy cliffhanger resolutions or any other nebulous, franchise-extending tactics.
This week sees the re-release of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and its sequel, Uncharted: Among Thieves, bundled together and sold at a budget price. These are games you should own, because the series belongs in the extraordinarily slim category of games that are actually important.
The story starts in 2007 with the release of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune - a title whose virtues are too often forgotten so that people can mention the awkward bits on the Jet Ski. While the game suffered slightly from a few too many staid action sequences, and the combat started flagging a few hours before the game hit its denouement, Amy Hennig's charismatic script fostered a context more than engaging enough to ferry players to the end credits.
My first exposure to Uncharted came via a phone call, where a friend told me it was absolutely revolutionary because Nathan Drake's running animations were totally beyond comparison. When he ran down stairs, I was told, he shifted his feet to the side and bobbed down the steps. I wasn't a PlayStation 3 owner at this point, but I was not allowed to change the topic of conversation until I agreed to take a look.
Me? I was sold on some of the other animations: Drake's cautious yet resolute jog, his bounding determination, and the noticeable strain in his face as he sprang into yet another death-defying leap. Together with the exemplary and delicate voice work of the superb Nolan North - easily setting the bar for all voice actors in games, and probably one of the reasons he was subsequently hired to lend his vocal talents to absolutely everything - whose elegantly delivered quips helped lift the character far above the medium's pathetically low standards.
So, yes, I bought a PlayStation 3 for Uncharted. I don't regret it, Jet Ski levels and all.