Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune came out of nowhere, completely captivated and engaged me with a beautiful setting, fantastic voice acting which made the characters believable and likable, and a story that I was wholeheartedly interested in. The fact that everything else was equally top notch, placed Uncharted on my top games of this generation list. Whenever a friend picked up a PS3, the first recommendation I made was Uncharted. So needless to say, its sequel is a game I’ve been looking forward to since I completed the original game, nearly two years ago. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves delivered the goods, and stepped everything up a notch or two, or three. In short, Uncharted 2 is exactly what a sequel should be, and is easily one of the best overall and most impressive games I’ve ever played.
Setting the Stage for Another Grand Adventure
It’s rare that I look forward to cut-scenes in games. Normally, I kick my feet up and sit back while the story unfolds on screen. Not so with the Uncharted games. The characters themselves, and the chemistry between the characters really is something special. Nathan Drake is a handsome dude who takes a beating at every turn. Then stumbles to his feet chuckling, only to deliver a terrific one-liner, each and every time. He’s tough as nails, yet sweet and sincere. He comes off as arrogant and self-fulfilling, but he’s always got his friend’s back when shit goes down. And when it comes to solving archaic riddles, there’s none better.
The main characters from the first game make a return in this sequel, and I for one was happy to see them. Also along for the ride are some new allies, and of course new threats. Chloe, an old friend of Nate’s is in the picture, and she’s a feisty one! It’s clear that there was a relationship between the two, which Drake walked out on at some point. Chloe is the complete opposite of Elena – the first game’s pseudo love interest. She’s tall, dark haired, and has an ass you just want to smack, but will likely break your damn fingers if you were to try it. With the two girls in the picture, Nate finds himself pulled in both directions and it’s entertaining seeing it all play out.
Once again, Drake is sucked into another big adventure spurred by the promise of a lost treasure. There are plenty of plot twists along the way, which send Drake and company all over the globe. The game starts out with Drake climbing out of a wrecked train, hanging over the edge of a cliff high in some snow covered mountains. A bit of back-story is shown in the form of cut-scenes during this intro chapter, and it isn’t until about 3/4 of the way through that you find out how Drake ended up there and why he’s there in the first place. The game takes a pretty unexpected turn shortly there after, followed by some of the most intense battles I’ve seen in recent years.
Part Shooter, Part Platformer, Part Stealth
As far as the gameplay is concerned, it’s as though the developers nit-picked every little detail of the first game, and tightened it up across the board. The character animations are a bit smoother and there’s more of them, while combat scenarios are far more fun due to the much improved cover system and hand-to-hand combat. You get your hands on many, many different weapons through-out the campaign, and you are given plenty of time and ammo to use each of them. Like most modern action games and shooters, you can only carry two weapons at a time – one heavy, one sidearm. And ammo can be sparse in times. Thankfully, you have other means of taking out armed enemies.
I was surprised at the amount of stealth gameplay, especially early on. The second mission is played almost entirely without a weapon. But it’s a great setup for later on, when you can use stealth tactics in situations where it would be quicker to simply shoot your enemy, but more beneficial in the long run if you can proceed undetected for as long as possible.
Like its predecessor, Among Thieves has almost equal parts shooting and exploring/climbing. There are a few decent sized puzzles to solve, that are larger than life and have you jumping, swinging, shimmying, and falling to and from great heights. There are vehicle sequences that are all sorts of fun, and some high action scenes that are straight out of a Bond movie. Fighting off a helicopter from a moving train through the mountains of Tibet? Come ON!
Definitely a Challenge
By the end of the game, your skills are well tested. Even on normal difficulty, Uncharted 2 can be a pretty tough and punishing game. Especially when ammo is low – that seems to be when the heavily armoured dudes wielding automatic shotguns come out to play. At the end of my first play-through, I had logged nearly 10 hours of play time.
Treasure Hunting Online?
Uncharted 2 comes stocked with a fully featured multiplayer mode, which doesn’t stray too far from all of the things that make the single player experience so great. There are a couple of three player co-op modes that are set in variations of chapters from the story. The one mode has you working together, going from checkpoint-to-checkpoint until you reach a final stand-off in front of a large chest of treasure. It’s really a lot of fun, and lasts a good 15-20 minutes per round.
There’s of course the typical deathmatch and objective based modes that we have would come to expect in multiplayer games. Unlocks-a-plenty! You earn cash from playing online, and even during the story. Each Trophy you unlock nets you some cash, along with completing the game on various difficulties. You can then spend your cash on unlockables, in the form of weapon upgrades, character skins, and perks. There are two sets of perks, and you can activate any one perk from each set at a time. Having enough cash is only part of the battle, though. There are level requirements for unlocking each unlockable as well. At this point, it’s hard to say if I’ll stick with the multiplayer end for long. I tend to move onto something else pretty quick, but I am having a lot of fun playing online currently.
Yes, it Really is That Good
Going into this holiday season, Uncharted 2 was one of the few games I planned to purchase immediately. It’s one of those games that I feel everyone who’s into gaming needs to experience. It covers a lot of ground, and takes its many inspirations and influences and one-ups them. Uncharted 2 should not be missed.