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May 10, 2010 | by  | in Games | [ssba]

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Out of all the games released last year, Uncharted 2 was undoubtedly the biggest. Forget Modern Warfare 2 and its billion dollar sales, Uncharted 2 is an action adventure you won’t forget. If over 20 industry awards (many of which were for Game of the Year) wasn’t enough to persuade you, I don’t know what will. But here goes:

Nathan Drake is the handsome hero of Uncharted 2, an Indiana Jones of the modern day, a treasure seeker, and a wisecracking all-round good guy. Drake is propelled on a gripping adventure to find the lost treasure of Marco Polo. You start mid-way through the story—Drake is introduced barely hanging onto a train, and, as luck would have it, dangling precariously over the edge of a cliff. After a bit of acrobatics you soon get to play the flashbacks which explain how Drake got into such a sticky situation in the first place.

Drake is a natural athlete; whether climbing buildings in Nepal, exploring the henchmen-infested jungles of Borneo, or traversing the Himalayas, nothing is too tough. He’s often been described as the male version of Lara Croft, though he also reminded me of Mal Reynolds from cult sci-fi television series Firefly. His physical appearance and witty repartee are so much alike it’s hard not to see the resemblance.

Throughout his adventure he’s joined by his old friend Sully, a cigar-chomping geezer; a new love interest (the alluring Chloe Frazer), and is eventually reunited with Elena Fisher from Drake’s first adventure, Drake’s Fortune. As a rule, action games tend to have pretty terrible character development, but Uncharted 2 is here to tell you that it is possible to make a compelling action game with fleshed-out personalities. And that’s all thanks to the superb writing and voice-acting performance on display.

Even the gameplay has much improved in this sequel. The pacing is top notch, and the whole thing feels more fluid. The combat and land travel segments blend together much better this time around, very unlike the ‘arenas’ of enemies in the first game. Although Uncharted 2 is still a very linear game and full of scripted events, it works in creating some truly epic moments. But the game lets you take the reins—it always feels like you’re in control and not just watching another cutscene. It’s a breeze to move about too, the controls are very responsive. And they would have to be, when you’re jumping across rooftops and ducking for cover when the guys with bazookas come out to play. Or y’know, surviving a helicopter onslaught on top of a train.

The same is true of the combat, which is easy to control, proving that third-person games can still hold their own against first-person shooters like the Halos and Call of Dutys of the console gaming scene. Of course, Uncharted 2 also has hand-to-hand-combat. It’s not overly complex but it is damn satisfying to jump on the back of some bad guy and snap his neck, his body crumpling to the ground. You know what I mean, right? I’m not a psychopath, really! Anyhow, the cover system works pretty well, plenty of screen space to see in most directions. And it’s not just to see your enemies either.

You’ll be wanting to take in as much as possible, because everything in Uncharted 2 looks amazing. The animation is smooth and every backdrop is absolutely jaw dropping, vibrant and colourful. If that’s not enough for you (but believe me, you’ll be more than satisfied by the main adventure), the multiplayer arenas and co-op levels are sure to bring you back again. It’s as polished as the rest of the game, and robust enough for you to have some fun with it. Developers Naughty Dog are not letting it die either, providing new content via downloadable content (DLC) packs and tweaking the gameplay even now. I’ve had many an action-packed multiplayer match but my favourite mode by far would have to be survival—a gametype where players work together as a team to take down waves of enemies, much like Gears of War 2’s horde mode.

Whether or not you’ve played the original, Uncharted 2 is still a damn good play, the equivalent of taking part in a blockbuster movie. If you ever needed a reason to own a PlayStation 3, this would be it. Remember, as well as playing Blu-rays, it also plays Uncharted 2!


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