I’ve got a life-long friend who loves getting his game on, but is somewhat stymied by his work and family duties; four kids will, I guess, devour a chunk of (what I’d consider to be) prime gaming time. But every so often he gets a day-pass from the family, and we get to sit and eat junk food and play video games – on the couch, making a nice social day of it.
But I struggled with inspiration for stuff to show him this visit. Eventually I kicked things off with a bit of Uncharted 3, pushing through some couch co-op… which was great, until the game failed to present a checkpoint that we had, by all accounts, earned. Then came Portal – he’d heard of it, but never played it, so I just let him play and kept quiet until help was needed. The same went for Journey – whilst he laughed and joked early on in his experience, when that moment occurred the room went quiet.
“That’s… fucked up,” he quietly offered. It was great to be able to see him get that affected by the game; I think it surprised him.
We wrapped things up with Mario Kart Wii – and really, is there any better competitive game when two people are in the same room? In all, it turned out to be a fantastically fun day, and a real mixed bag of experiences for him.
But, in terms of solo play, it’s been a real tale of three consoles this week, with my gaming time split pretty evenly across all three of the major platforms. And, despite the odd niggle, it’s almost all been universally great.
The 360 got a look-in when I finished off the second (of seven) playthroughs of Saints Row: The Third. The protagonist dialogue – the real reason for the multiple runs – actually started diverging quite significantly towards the end of the game… but the subtitles did not, which was interesting. I toyed with the purchase of Fez, but decided against it… for the time being.
The Wii’s drawcard was, of course, Mario Kart Wii, which provided oodles of fun and swearing – even on the slower speeds. A brief look at the harder levels indicated that it’s going to provide the madcap bedlam that I’d expect, with items zipping across the courses and my kart spending more time in the air than on the road. Fantastic, sweary stuff.
But the central focus of the week was most certainly Ico. A lazy first (PS3) playthrough reminded me of how remarkably emotive the game is, with the second (back-to-back) run an absolute delight that I celebrated with Yorda, eating watermelon on the beach. It really is a beautifully constructed experience, though some of the “high-def” work left a lot to be desired: the clean definition of Yorda’s face during the bridge cut-scene took away from the ethereal white glowing beauty that I experienced on the PS2.
There’s just one speed-run required to wrap Ico up, and this week saw the final Trophies for Flower and Journey claimed. But the most significant effort – in terms of weight of expectation – was that I finally started putting some serious effort into the Uncharted 2 multiplayer trophies.
By boosting, of course.
After looking around to see if any communities like TrueAchievements exists in the PS3 world, I discovered a real mixed bag; there’s two sites that are somewhat obviously named, ps3trophies.org and ps3trophies.com (there’s also the much newer PSNProfiles, which looks like it could approach the glory that is TA, but doesn’t quite have the weight of people behind it yet). Both offer Trophy lists, guides, and forums, but they both seem to be populated by a mix of people that actively sneer at boosting (horror stories abound) and those who just want their Trophies any way they can get them. I eventually found a dishevelled boosting thread on .com (as the kool kids call it), with one bloke recently posting that he’s about to start working on the game; “I’ll be in that,” I offer, and hesitantly we organise and plan.
I start my Hard playthrough of Uncharted 2 as re-familiarisation exercise: Ico‘s use of Triangle to jump makes things quite laughable for a few minutes. Then my old 360 boosting buddy Mitchell joins in, and we start tackling the co-op missions… and are mercilessly slaughtered.
The boosting session starts, and it becomes immediately apparent that we’ve had it incredibly easy on the 360 – comms via text chat is painful (must set up a keyboard!) and the party system buggy. Eventually we get going, though, and things go relatively smoothly; after a couple of hours, we’ve all claimed the trophies widely regarded as the trickiest in the game. The Americans eventually drift off, leaving Mitchell and I to attempt more co-op… and we’re joined, quite unexpectedly, by another player.
And they were bloody brilliant.
In an experience not unlike that of Journey, they guided us through the co-op levels – picking us up when we fell, guiding us through the tricky bits. They were headset-less, so there was no communication with them… but that didn’t stop Mitchell and I from profusely offering thanks every time they dug us out of our own shit.
Of course, we must have sounded like those pricks you always mute in games, and my subsequent friend request has been sadly denied… but that certainly was a fun couple of hours.
But as I leave my solo Uncharted 2 to write this post, I’m cowering behind cover as Chloe picks off my opposition for me. “I’ve lost him,” calls one enemy soldier as he exchanges shots with her; apparently, her gunfire is of little threat to him. Clever writing, eh? Using an undercurrent of patriarchal dismissal to encourage you to hate the baddies even more?
Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
But the crux of this missive is that I reckon I’m enjoying Uncharted 2 now, far more so than in my earlier efforts. Whether that’s because of the boosting factor (and the socialising that it provides), or whether it’s another case where (as with the original Uncharted) familiarity breeds
contempt respect, I cannot quite figure out yet; regardless, I’m quite looking forward to hopping back into it again soon.
Like, right now.