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Oct 26, 2009

Review: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
SCEA, Naughty Dog
Available on the Playstation 3

Playstation 3 owners pay attention because your game of the year has arrived as the latest title from Naughty Dog, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Nathan Drake is back and this time the developers at Naughty Dog have taken their sweet time with him and given him the best of everything. Once you play this game, you’ll never look at a Tomb Raider game the same way again.

When the first Uncharted arrived on the Playstation 3, it was a pretty game and it had potential but wasn’t mind blowing. Nathan Drake has since had time to learn and grow and he has finally found his wow factor.

Among Thieves is like that 4th Indiana Jones we actually wanted to see with an addictive storyline, blockbuster action scenes, great voice/mo-cap actors and an epic soundtrack. On top of those elements, Among Thieves is a videogame so instead of just watching the action, you get to play out the story which makes it all the more tasty.

Grabbing elements from movies like National Treasures and Indiana Jones (the good ones), Uncharted 2 follows our treasure-hunting hero, Nathan Drake on a new quest through exotic locations to find the lost fleets of Marco Polo and more. He is joined on his journey by a past lover, Chloe Frazer and an old partner in crime, Harry Flynn and plus a few other familiar faces along the way.

The game opens with a wounded Nathan waking up to find himself on a train car about to fall off the ledge of a snowy mountain. I loved this opening because you have no idea how he got there or how he got wounded - just that you have to get him to safety before the train car falls. It really puts you in the moment. While the game follows a complete linear structure with no room to explore Drake’s world beyond the paths laid out for you, one can complain as it is a beautiful path full of daring escapes and puzzles just waiting to be solved.

I was a little disappointed in the control layout and sensitivity in this game. I found most of my deaths were caused by control issues more then by anything else. For example, I died a lot because Nathan wouldn’t climb up a ladder and instead moved off to the left or right... right off a darn ledge or cliff. You spend a lot of time running from enemy gun fire in this game and the control scheme was not made for all these fast-paced moments.

Thankfully the rest of the game makes up for the control scheme and in no time, you will be addicted to this title. It’s almost like the developers managed to find everything good about videogames, add a yummy chocolate covered coating and then add them all together to make Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The main campaign mode is much longer this time to finally make this a worthwhile buy plus you get additional difficulty modes and trophies to make a second play-through a great idea.

The multiplayer mode offers up a few recognizable game play modes like death match, plunder (capture the flag), etc that will actually impress those hardcore fans. With so few good exclusive multiplayer games on Playstation 3, Uncharted 2 might actually be one of those titles to fill the multiplayer void on the system. The 2 bonus boost abilities given to each character really add some cool elements to the game as well as added skin purchase ability. Once players tire of the main campaign, it’s nice to know that a good multiplayer element is waiting for you rather than something that was tacked on as an afterthought.

The combat play has been improved upon with a blind fire option to fire from cover and a better hand-to-hand option. In game, you’ll be astounded with amazing “By the skin of your teeth” and “Oh sh*t” moments which have you controlling Nathan through some of the most incredible game play moments in gaming history I have ever seen. Imagine fighting enemies as a building collapses around you or running from a helicopter’s spray of bullets as you scale buildings in order from escape it or even fighting enemies on top of a train as a speeds through an exotic land. Those are the moments that will have to glued to your TV.

I don’t think words can really explain how beautiful this game is. I could fill pages and pages full on amazingly detailed this game is. From the moment you watch Nathan walking through the snow; you know this is one of the best looking and most realistic looking games out there. Every location, every character and every single object has its own life in the game and you will take notice. Best example is the characters: since the first Uncharted, the characters have received new life – they look more textured, coloured and all the use of mo-cap actors really pays off. Each characters moves and looks exactly like a real person would - Nathan shields his face against fires, limps when he’s hurt and more.

The sound is probably my favourite part of the game. Call me a fool but something about the Uncharted 2 main theme really moves me, so much so that I almost cried a couple of times during the game. They say music can move the soul and this game’s orchestral soundtrack apparently moves my soul. Mushy stuff aside, the voice acting in the game is pro with the use of Hollywood actors like Claudia Black (Farscape) as Chloe and Steve Valentine (Crossing Jordon) as Harry. Nolan North also returns as the voice of sexy Nathan Drake. The in-game banter between the characters is excellent, so much so that you actually learn about Nathan’s previous relationship with Chloe just from their back and forth as you explore.

There is no doubt that the developers at Naughty Dog managed to finally make Uncharted the game it should have been. Playstation 3 owners should definitely have this game in their library and non-PS3 owners should consider buying the system just to play this game. I personally loved this game and plan to play it through at least one more time. Expect to see this game on my games of the year list in January.

Rating: 10 out of 10
Buy it!

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