Jay Button Discussions: What’s required playing?

November 3, 2011

As I’ve mentioned many times in the several venues on this site through which you can hear me pontificate and whine about video games, I manage a video game store. From behind that counter, I see every type of gamer go by. There is the dude who wears a long black coat, fake fangs and a ponytail, and only buys Square Enix games. There’s the young asian girl who would be pretty attractive if she didn’t wear a foxtail out in public. And there’s a disturbingly large subset of people who come into my store, buy Madden or Call of Duty and leave, only to return when the next entry in one of these series is released. They terrify me.

Now I don’t claim to know more about games than anyone else. I mean, it’s fairly obvious isn’t it? But I do everything I can to impart that knowledge unto others and there’s no simpler way to try to educate someone about the artform of video games than handing them a disc and say “Play this.” When you’re in control of that situation, what is the game you’re passing on? If you see fit to take on the role of the teacher to someone’s student, what is your tool to help expand their view of what the medium of video games is capable? If you could condense an entire generation of gaming into one single insular playing experience, what is it?

This topic came to me when I was replaying Uncharted 2 to prepare for the sequel’s release this week. In one sitting I played about half the campaign and had more fun than I’ve had since… well, since the game came out two years ago. This generation has stretched far beyond its means and few games from early or even mid-way through have stood the test of time. Even when looking back a mere two years, one has to be wary about the game they pick off the used wall at the GamePorium. But Uncharted 2 remains one of the greatest action experiences I’ve had on a console. It really hits you when a building falls over while you’re inside it.

I’ve yet to play a game where I had this much fun, yet cared about the characters and story the way I do in Uncharted 2. Several games have come close but always fall flat in some aspect. I love the storytelling in The Darkness, but the story they’re telling and the shooting mechanics aren’t as compelling. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which takes several cues from Uncharted, also comes to mind. That game is wonderfully told and I was deeply invested in the journey, but the combat really makes the latter half of that game a slog. Uncharted 2 moves at a breezy pace all the way through and my second playthrough feels just as fresh as my first. If you’re looking for a great popcorn action game with something on its mind, you absolutely have to play Uncharted 2.

But of course like many of you, I have my gaming blindspots. There are things I’ve missed and I’m sure you and the Snackbar staff have too. So I want to hear your must-play titles from this generation. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter. Make sure to message our new community account, @SBGCommunity.