Leaping from ledge to ledge at staggering heights, escaping a collapsing building as it falls to pieces around me and killing more pirates than scurvy. When I look back on the seventh generation of game consoles, Nathan Drake and Co. hold a special place in my heart and, of their trilogy of adventures, standing head and shoulders above the other two is my game of the generation: Uncharted 2.

Picking a favorite game from the past 10 years is surprisingly easy, as it is typically the first game that pops into your mind. We're not trying to debate which game is arguably “the best” game to come out on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and PC since 2005. Nor are we trying to pick which game had the biggest impact on the landscape of gaming in general. Everything from Angry Birds to BioShock fits snugly on that list and, let's be honest, it's all subjective anyway.

Instead, I asked myself: Which game am I going to remember? Looking back on previous generations and given the added benefit of time, it's easy to narrow down the games that served as landmarks for a given console or cycle. They're the ones that instantly rise to the surface because they're the ones that, unadulterated by peer pressure, review scores and the like, you're most likely to think of because of the special period of time they sliced out of your life. When I think of the SNES, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island instantly jumps to mind. When I think of the PlayStation, it's Metal Gear Solid. So when I decided to mull over my favorite game of the past era and Uncharted 2 instantly leaped into my brain like the series' treasure-seeking hero trying to outrun a chaingun-wielding soldier of fortune, I figured there was no point in arguing with my subconscious, debating the pros and cons of other choices or rooting through my library to uncover some obscure, almost forgotten gem. It's Uncharted 2, and for a number of good reasons.

I often argue that video games don't have to be fun to be successful but, let's face it, that infamous “fun factor” plays a large part in determining how much you get out of a game in the long run. A good comparison would be developer Naughty Dog's other seventh generation knockout, The Last of Us. That game features some of the best storytelling the medium has ever known, some of the best voice acting and animation, etc. But it's hard to describe my experience with The Last of Us as “a jolly good time.” Its somber and dramatic tone and more than a few gut-wrenching turn of events are absolutely worth discussing and 100 percent memorable, but I don't think those moments are going to sizzle in the back of my mind quite like the amazing set-pieces, chases and death-defying antics of Uncharted 2; which absolutely reveled in its bright colors, fast-paced action and enough clever quips to fill a season of Friends. When you have a smile on your face and the adrenaline is pumping, the game you're playing tends to leave a deeper impression. And when that game does all of those things a game should do so well, it becomes a benchmark of a generation.

And that's exactly what I got out of Uncharted 2, a game that also does an admirable job of telling a great story full of wonderfully realized characters and grand moments.

You know how every now and again you'll play a game that just clicks with you, delivering an experience that almost feels like it was made specifically with you in mind? Well, that's exactly how I felt while playing Uncharted 2, the only game of this generation to bring me back for a second and third playthrough. Every aspect of the game felt like the team at Naughty Dog got together in a room and said, “Okay, what, exactly, will Ryan enjoy,” and then they implemented it into Uncharted 2.

My girlfriend likes to tease me about the game every now and again, dramatically asking, “Hey, Ryan? Can you imaaaagine?” The joke is that I unknowingly said those very words to her about a million times while playing Uncharted 2, as I was constantly awed by the jaw-dropping locales and explosive moment-to-moment gameplay. It's also one of those rare games that she was excited to watch me play, which only speaks further as to just how good U2 is.

I know I'm getting into the nuts and bolts of the game a bit too much here, but that's because those types of things are so easily quantifiable. It's so much easier to say I loved how the game looked, played and sounded than to try to find some sort of deeper meaning as to why I hold it in such high regard. It didn't come into my life during a particularly rough spell, as was the case with Metal Gear Solid, so I can't even say that the game “got me through some pretty tough times.” Several later games borrowed from what made Uncharted 2 so successful, but it's not like it completely redefined its genre, brought scores of former non-gamers into the fold or anything like that.

In truth, it was just a hell of a lot of fun to play, kept me entertained, lasted a good long while and kept bringing me back for more with some of the most underrated multiplayer goodness out there. Years from now, Uncharted 2 will be the game I bring up when people ask me, “Hey, do you remember the PlayStation 3?” Well, that and Deadly Premonition. But that's for a completely different set of reasons.
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