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Shadow Hearts: Covenant took the grim and serious atmosphere of the first game and let it take a backseat to something lighter and sillier. It doesn’t totally get rid of it, as you still have Yuri’s struggles with his (still literal) inner demons and battles against (also literal) outer demons, but it’s a game that has no problem making fun of itself (and the characters often make fun of the bad guys they’re going up against, which is also great) and is a little less depressing as a result. I think it’s a lot easier to get into Covenant, and it improves upon the original in most areas (except for dungeon design, most notably. This game’s dungeons can be pretty bad sometimes).
I think one of the aspects I appreciate the most about Covenant is how it follows up on the original Shadow Hearts. Very few games with multiple endings make the bad one canon, but this game does. I thought that was a pretty bold move, and it also enabled them to take the story in a direction that they otherwise couldn’t have. I think Covenant has a really good story that gets better as it goes along, just like the original Shadow Hearts. I’ve often said that this game should be called “The Yuri Hyuga Owns Faces Show” because there are so many instances of him literally punching bad guys in the face in an awesome FMV. Yuri is such a great protagonist because he’s always brash and confident in his skills, even when the villains try to hinder his special abilities. He manages to be a good guy while continuing to be the “Rude Hero” we know and love. In the opening cutscene of the game, he saves the lead female of the game from a group of bad guys, and then he proceeds to unceremoniously dump her on the floor before walking out the door without a word. There’s also one cutscene that’s always stuck with me where he argues Might vs. Right (which is the literal name of the cutscene in the game) as he mercilessly beats down a basically helpless old man (who’s been behind a lot of the evil stuff that’s happened in the game up to that point, for the record). It’s kind of uncomfortable to watch, but it’s also part of what makes Yuri unique among JRPG heroes.
Now while Yuri is the main draw of Covenant, I think the overall playable cast is a big improvement over the first Shadow Hearts, which had a small cast, with about half of them having one-dimensional personalities and essentially no real role in the story. Covenant has a much bigger cast, and the characters (other than Lucia) feel like they matter and have a real reason to be there, as well as having optional content dedicated to them (Joachim’s wrestling tournament is one of my favorite parts of the game). They have some great cast chemistry, and it’s fun to see them interact with each other. Covenant also really improved on the battle system, almost to the point of making it too easy. You can have your characters team up to do really powerful and flashy combo attacks, which trivializes most boss fights since you can just gang up on the one bad guy and wreck him, but it looks and feels so good. Now Covenant compensates for it by having the last boss be easily the most difficult fight in the game (at least it was for me), which makes it really satisfying when you do beat it. I wish Shadow Hearts was more popular than it is, and I wish user SaveEstelle had finished the first game so he could have gotten to this one because it would have been a lot of fun to watch him experience it!
poor Shadow Hearts
you deserve better
#25. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
That clip describing the origin of one of Nathan Drake’s bizarre quips goes a long way to explaining the charm of Uncharted as a whole and why Nolan North was perfect for the role. I think he’s at his best here in Uncharted 2, partly because he’s constantly changing who he’s traveling with and so his style of banter changes. For instance, I love it when he’s with Tenzin because Drake still talks at him even though he knows he doesn’t understand what he’s saying. There’s a constant air of tension and mistrust when he’s with Chloe, which results in some great chemistry between them. Drake and Sully are always great together, although it’s unfortunate that he’s only around for the early part of the game.
When you start a game en media res, the goal is to get the player invested in finding out how it got to that point, and Uncharted 2 nails that better than any game I’ve played, where you have Nathan Drake bleeding and clinging to the bottom of a train hanging over the edge of a cliff. I think Uncharted 2 is impeccably paced, as the game keeps the action moving from area to area without ever really dragging, while also knowing when to throw in some downtime, like wandering around the village. I never had to force myself to keep playing it because I was always eager to find out what happened next. That’s not to say it’s a perfect game, but you’re willing to overlook its weaknesses because its strengths are so good.
In terms of gameplay, the leap from Uncharted 1 to Uncharted 2 might be one of the biggest improvements from the original to the sequel I’ve ever seen. I always dreaded combat in the first game because it was poorly designed and enemies were bullet sponges that took forever to kill. They largely fix those problems here, so it keeps the game moving. The puzzle sections are a lot of fun, too. I always enjoy piecing together the hints from Drake’s journal to figure out what to do next (Drake’s journal in general is full of great Easter Eggs, too). Overall, the real draw of Uncharted 2 is how amazing the setpieces are. The cinematic presentation is top notch and provide for maximum drama because it feels like natural progression (provided you’re not one of those people who deliberately stops to show that the game waits for you to reach a certain point to trigger the next setpiece). I love the entire Borneo sequence, and the train part is also excellent, especially because you know you’re closing in on finding out what happened to Drake at the beginning. If you just want some good action, you won’t find much of anything better than Uncharted 2.
Uncharted 2 is so f***ing good. A perfect AAA spectacle title that probably inadvertently ruined AAA gaming for several years as everyone tried to copy it.
"A more mature answer than I expected."~ Jakyl25
"Sephy's point is right."~ Inviso
4 > 2 > 3 > 1 > LL > GA
Whiskey Nick on his cell phone
"Every man's heart one day beats its final beat." -Warrior
Huh, Lost Legacy was that bad?
I played a little bit of Golden Abyss and didn't like it at all, but I haven't played Lost Legacy.
Uncharted 2 was great. I need to get back to 4 one of these days.
I actually thought 1 was pretty good though!
Congrats to Advokaiser for winning the CBX Guru Challenge!
UC1 is fine because the characters are great, and the puzzles and parkour are fun. It's everything else that drags it down.
Combat was definitely worse than 2, but I didn’t think it was horrible. Maybe playing on a lower difficulty helped? (Can’t remember if I did easy or normal).
Congrats to Advokaiser for winning the CBX Guru Challenge!
I got the Nathan Drake Collection a while ago and played through UC1 - Nate was great, but I definitely didn't care for the combat at all so it's good to know 2 improves on it. Should really go back to it one of these days.
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