Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
If this thing were a movie, it'd probably gross a couple hundred million dollars worldwide and launch a few acting careers in the process
- It's like starring as the hero of a big budget Hollywood action movie
- Camera's a little iffy, the AI is a little dumb and the story drags on just a little too long
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a fantastic effort and Naughty Dog deserves full credit for building upon the momentum of the first installment.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
I reviewed the first Uncharted back when it was first released and thought it was a good game with some promise; I wasn't blown away by it, but I thought it was a good first step. Well, Naughty Dog's taken that first step and followed it up with a giant leap: Uncharted 2 is a great game, a big budget Hollywood blockbuster masquerading as a video game. Seriously, if this keeps up, the Matthew McConaugheys and Nicolas Cages of the world will all be out of a job... which wouldn't exactly be a huge blow to humanity's future.
I'm willing to bet that if you paid a visit to Naughty Dog's offices, you'd find a huge movie collection filled with titles like National Treasure and Sahara; I say this because Uncharted 2 follows the same set formula as those types of movies. It looks, feels and plays out just like a cliche ridden action flick with one exception: it's actually good, and you don't feel like an idiot for liking it. Uncharted 2 has everything: a good looking and charming leading man; an attractive and plucky female lead; lots of action sequences and things going "kaboom"; and some nice pseudo-history/anthropology/archeology mumbo jumbo that's just plausible enough that you accept it at face value.
If this thing were a movie, it'd probably gross a couple hundred million dollars worldwide and launch a few acting careers in the process. I really enjoyed it, and here's the most telling thing: there were times when I felt frustrated and there were times when I felt lost but there was never a moment when I felt bored. Not once during my ten hour romp through the single-player campaign did I want to turn off the game and go do something else. I did feel like that game dragged on a bit towards the end -- I was shocked that it only took me ten hours to beat the game because it felt like I had been playing for twice that -- but it remained satisfying all the way through.
Eye of the Beholder
The gameplay is the key component, obviously, and the run-and-gun action is butter smooth. Just like the first title, the platforming is way too easy and linear -- you can hop around like a monkey simply by pressing the 'X' button and hand-holds are too conveniently laid out -- and the "archaeology puzzles" were too easy, but I had a blast exploring the various jungles and cityscapes and digging deep beneath the ruins of ancient temples. I also liked the gun combat a lot; the cover system is a little too sticky but it works well and gives you a Gears of War-level experience. But seriously, Naughty Dog, just let me auto-pick up ammo by running over guns -- having to press the 'triangle' button each and every time sucks. Switching weapons also blows, and I found myself constantly switching and reswitching weapons on accident.
But overall, the gameplay works well, and it's wrapped up in a delicious layer of story and presentation. Everything, from the graphics to the voice acting to the dialogue is superb and it has that big budget feel that helped make Michael Bay a gajillionaire. The story is a bit clunky at points but like I said, it's just plausible enough that you willingly buy into it. There are some genuinely thrilling moments in Uncharted 2 where you survive just by the skin of your teeth, and it's moments like these when the game truly shines.
Now, I haven't mentioned the multiplayer because I wasn't able to play it during my review (the public servers weren't online -- read our closed beta multiplayer impressions here!) but I did play some of the demo and I thought it had a lot of potential. It's a nice complement to the single-player and honestly, even if the multi didn't exist, I'd still recommend Uncharted 2 anyway, so unless the multi-player is completely broken and sets your PS3 on fire, you have to look at it as a positive addition.
There are certainly times when you will feel some frustration with Uncharted 2. The A.I. is a little suspect, the camera can be stubborn, and you will die your fair share of cheap deaths. But it's still a fantastic effort and Naughty Dog deserves full credit for building upon the momentum of the first instalment. PS3 owners should definitely experience it, especially if they liked the original. And can Nathan Drake finally get his fair share of the spotlight? The poor guy is always getting outshined by guys like Master Chief and Solid Snake but hopefully, Uncharted 2 will get him the respect that he deserves.
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