Release Year: 2009
Platform: PlayStation 3
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
This review took me longer than I expected for some reason, considering I have reviewed every other game in the franchise by now. But hey, I had to save the best for last. Uncharted 2 is heralded as a modern masterpiece in gaming. If you ask an Uncharted fan which one is the best game in the series, most would say ďthe second one, hands down.Ē Thereís even a blurb on the front of the Game Of The Year Edition box that flat out tells you, ďÖitís one of the best games of all time.Ē- Fox News Gamers Weekly (though seeing the source you may or may not take that with a grain of salt.
So the question for those who own a PS3 but somehow have not played the game yet is, does it live up to the hype? Do you really need to sacrifice your first born to get a copy? Well, you shouldnít because the game can still be found at GameStop for a great price thatís practically a steal. But to answer the first question, yes, the game precedes its reputation as one of the greatest games of its generation, though I would even dare to say it earns a spot being up there with the all-time greats.
I can understand though--itís a little surprising given the gameís pedigree. Among Thieves is the sequel to Uncharted: Drakeís Fortune from 2007. Drakeís Fortune was a decent game, but gameplay wise it was not quite anywhere near the level of quality as its successor. It suffered from two major problems of cheap enemy AI and sheer repetition. But it was ultimately held together by a rich atmosphere, an interesting story, and a colorful cast of funny and likeable characters.
Naughty Dog apparently took every complaint about the first game to heart, and clearly worked hard to put together an awe-inspiring sequel. And they succeeded. It has the great qualities of the first game, coupled with engaging, thrill-a-minute gameplay to create an unforgettable ride that is more than worth the price of admission.
Among Thieves continues the story of Nathan Drake, who is simultaneously one of gamingís nicest and most brutal protagonists. While he can throw down with the best of them when the crap really hits the fan, heís a very funny and likeable character who differentiates himself from most of gamingís other generic male leads by having a goofy charm about him. Said goofy charm also makes him feel much more human and therefore more relatable. Especially because the voice acting is so wonderfully done. You can tell the actors were having a good time and it shows through the chemistry that the characters have.
This time around, Drake is approached by a couple of old associates about pulling off a heist job at a museum in Istanbul. But this is Nathan Drake and nothing can ever go smooth as planned for him. When the job goes wrong and Nathan discovers there was more to it than he was led to believe, he and his crew find themselves in a globe trotting race to the treasure. The only thing standing between them and the prize is a psychopathic international terrorist and his massive army of mercenaries. All in a dayís work for the wisecracking fortune hunter.
Uncharted 2 is often likened to a playable action movie. I would say a better way to describe it is that the whole game feels like a ride at a theme park like Universal Studios. Some of the set pieces are jaw-dropping, yet all of them are playable. Most games would show such epic action in a cutscene. But not in Uncharted. Here, you get to actually play through these colossal moments. One minute you will be having a firefight with some bad guys through a collapsing, war torn sky scraper while simultaneously being pursued by a helicopter. Later, you will be battling your way through a train that is chugging along through the snowy mountain tops of Nepal while being pursued by even more aerial artillery.
What keeps it all fresh is that Uncharted 2 has a healthy balance of all its gameplay elements. In between these over-the-top sequences, there are plenty of straightforward shootouts, as well as plat forming and puzzle solving segments. Having a much better balance of these segments is what makes Uncharted 2 such a step up from Drakeís Fortune, which followed the formulaic ď2 or 3 big shootouts against a huge wave of bullet sponges - brief plat forming - a puzzle - rinse and repeat.Ē
More often than not you will be accompanied by one or more AI controlled companions. However, they are pretty adept at handling themselves in combat and even being helpful, while still allowing the player to do most of the heavy lifting.
The game also keeps fresh by giving the players a huge variety of locales to play through, as opposed to being confined to one island. Locations include the jungles of Borneo, to the Urban Warzones of Nepal, to the dark catacombs of the ancient temples and the snowy mountaintops. Itís a world tour so grand it would be beautiful to take in if you werenít scrunched behind cover avoiding bullet storms.
Throughout all of this, you will be more than well equipped. The gun play is impeccable and you will have a variety of pistols, rifles, and other toys to use as you unleash hell. The combat system is complemented by excellent Melee and a great cover system. And you will be happy to know that the Grenade throwing system is much better and not needlessly complicated by tech demo gimmicks. Rest in Piece, Six Axis.
Finally, Uncharted 2 introduced a multiplayer mode. Now, for those unfamiliar with the franchise, Uncharted is a single player game first, and multiplayer second. Itís not like most modern shooters where you buy it to play online and you can just sleep on the campaign. If you buy this primarily with multi player in mind, then shame on you and you might be a tad disappointed. However, with all that being said, the multiplayer in this game is really fun. Itís more of a distraction than anything, but it does significantly extend the replay value. There are a plethora of modes ranging from the requisite Team Deathmatch to Plunder, where two teams fight to get a single treasure back to the treasure chest at their home base, to Elimination (one life, no respawn), and more. The maps are carefully designed and overall itís balanced. Not only is it a good time waster, but itís a breath of fresh air from all the generic military shooters on the market. The online has a more laid back, humorous atmosphere. There is a leveling up system as well, so it will give you plenty to do.
The game also comes packed with bonus content that includes a behind-the-scenes making of the game in just about all the aspects. From the story, to the voice actors and characters, to the animation. If you love looking at behind-the-scenes, there is plenty to see, which is unlocked as you progress in the campaign.
The bottom line: If you have a PlayStation 3, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is an absolute must have. Period, no question about it. This is one of those rare cases where the game lives up to the hype. It earns its title as a masterpiece because the game has no glaring flaws at all. The gameplay, the narrative, the pacing, the characters, and the multiplayer are all fantastic, and if you donít play any other game in the franchise, it needs to be this one. For once, Fox News was telling the truth.