"Man only interested in the climax. You must be a real hit with the ladies."
12 months have passed since we crowned LittleBigPlanet our writers' game of 2008, and as your mousewheel has no doubt just informed you, Sony has made it two in a row. Having compiled votes and considered pleas from over a dozen staff and contributors, we can reveal that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is Eurogamer's Game of the Year for 2009.
As was always the case with the business end of what used to be our Top 50 Games list, the vote was far from unanimous, with strong support for Batman: Arkham Asylum and Demon's Souls in particular giving Sony and Naughty Dog's action-adventure a run and a jump for its money. But unlike last year's victor, Uncharted 2 does enjoy the honour of being more of our writers' number one choice than any other, as well as appearing on virtually every voting form.
As you may know, it's already the first 10/10-scoring PlayStation 3 exclusive in Eurogamer history, and we've lavished it with praise once already in our festive rundown of the games of the year. But apparently we just can't get enough. Read on to find out why Uncharted 2 won so much of our applause - and, in strongest Eurogamer end-of-year tradition, why a few disagree.
"You just count to five and pull the cord. Easy, right?"
"A thoroughly deserved victory," Dan argues. "It was a close race between this and Batman to receive my sloppiest of kisses this year, and the fact that the caped crusader squeaked into my top spot may simply be due to the fact I spent a lot more time on his game than in the company of Nathan Drake.
"Much like Batman, on the surface Uncharted 2 doesn't do anything particularly noteworthy. It doesn't redefine genres, or reinvent physics. There's no eye-catching gimmick or new twist. It's a game built around solid, well-crafted gameplay mechanics rather than marketable press-release bullet-points. The result is simply a phenomenally polished action-adventure, packed with instantly gratifying spectacle and adventure - the core of what gaming is all about."
"Great, power's out, and a girl's trapped. I swear to God, if there's a Zombie around the next corner."
"After all those years of brown first-person shooters and games set in mutant-infested post-Apocalyptic American cities," says Ellie, "I was glad to see beautiful, colourful action-adventure games make a comeback in 2009. Especially following Tomb Raider Underworld, which was something of a disappointment despite the fact it marked a return to the series' roots and had Keeley Hawes in it.
"Good job, then, that Naughty Dog decided to return to Tomb Raider's roots too with Uncharted 2. I'll always love Lara more than Drake, but his silly wisecracks and stubbly chin grew on me this year. Tight pacing, rock-solid gameplay and a storyline that is almost not completely rubbish despite the fact it's in a videogame are combined in one visually stunning package.
"It makes you realise you're not the only one who still likes games about climbing and puzzle-solving, and glad that studios like Naughty Dog are still putting in the effort to make imaginative, great-looking games like this."
Simon Parkin is one of the nicest people you can possibly hope to meet, and has been politely taking names for Eurogamer for over four years. This year he went all Columbo on Tim Langdell and also reviewed Modern Warfare 2 and Street Fighter IV.
"This is the problem with blind democracy: it reveals the group's true feelings. Because, ask any of Eurogamer's writers to individually name their favourite game of the year and I doubt many would hoist this unapologetic blockbuster onto their shoulders," Simon begins, having clearly not read the intro.
"There's nothing wrong with a big, dumb feel-good matinee, and Uncharted 2 certainly deserved every accolade laid at its feet, but is that really what we're going to point to as our very medium's best in the last 12 months? Dead Nazis, yetis, stubble and one-liners? It's like picking The Temple of Doom over the Seventh Seal.
"As a piece of spectacle, Nathan Drake's rip-roaring adventure is certainly peerless in 2009: not even Modern Warfare 2's airport massacre scene could top its parade of arresting set-pieces. It's also a technical marvel, effortlessly outclassing anything else on the platform. Naughty Dog's gleeful trading of the washed-out, desaturated colour schemes that have characterised the mainstream gaming aesthetic for three years for exuberant high-contrast tones bespeaks the developer's wider aim: a celebration of childlike wonder over try-hard maturity.
"But at the end of the rollercoaster ride, there's a nagging feeling: was I, the player, really an integral part of all that? Peel away the visuals and put a sock in Nolan North's mouth (so he can no longer win you over with his warm quips) and the systems that underpin Uncharted 2 are straightforward and lightweight. There are relatively few places for players to feel as though they're doing something particularly well or changing the story in tangible ways. It's closer to an interactive movie than we might wish to admit.
"It may be a stunning, game-changing interactive movie, but in its cozying up to the triumphs and techniques of that elder medium, there's a danger that Uncharted 2's success may take us away from the potential that videogaming has twitching in its womb."
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