Review by onionring1988

"Uncharted in both presentation and gameplay"

Critically acclaimed, pushing the Playstation 3 to its limits with lush, vibrant graphics, an intriguing and engaging storyline, and fluid game play, Naughty Dog, the developers of the successful Jak & Daxter franchise, established its newest hit series with the 2007 release of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Fast forward 18 months later, where Naughty Dog released Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which seamlessly blends cinematic presentation with an expanded storyline, combat, and cast of characters.

Graphics:

Those who played the first will remember that the game took place mostly in the jungle and destroyed temples. The game also had some nice water effects, which were emphasized during some levels. The second one looks better than the first, being one of the best Playstation 3 games graphically.

There are also more locales in this game, meaning more varied locations. Without spoiling the plot, Drake will go all over the places and there will be moments where you may just stand and take in the beautiful landscapes. There is even in game dialog where they comment about how pretty things are. Naughty Dog must know this game looks good.

The cinematic presentation and great camera work will make the player immersed into the game's world. The characters look realistic with facial expressions and gestures. The camera work is fantastic, emphasizing the great graphics.

Story:

Nathan Drake, fortune hunter and thief, hesitantly agrees to join his two companions, Harry and Chloe, on a heist to retrieve what seems to be an ordinary object placed within a heavily guarded music. Things happen, shots are fired, and Drake finds himself playing a heroic role as he tries to stay a step away of the bed guys while not being shot.

The plot is suspenseful, intriguing, full of twists, and will keep the player guessing until the credits roll. The plot, much like the first, is presented in a very cinematic way, integrating pre-rendered and in-game cut scenes seamlessly into game play, immersing the player into the game's world.

Without spoiling the plot, characters from the first return and the story both in terms of plot and presentation, greatly surpasses the original, similar to the characterization.

Even though the game is heavily plot-driven, there are now many lines dedicated to characterization. Unlike the first, Drake will be accompanied by an array of people. Between the two or three companions, as you jump from roof top to roof top, climb ladders, and overcome any platforming obstacle, Drake and company will exchange witty remarks. These pieces of dialog differentiates Drake and the cast from all of the other action heroes we have seen both in movies and video games. What helps the character development is the fantastic voice talent.

Sound:

When turning on the game, the music on the title screen will be recognizable for those who played the first. Voice actors from the first return and continue to deliver a great performance along with the new cast. The fantastic voice cast makes the characters not only likeable, but also realistic. Even the more minor characters are a pleasure to hear and the witty banter, or theatrics, exchanged between the cast not only sets the mood, but also complements the score well.

The tracks, while sparse, develop the atmosphere. The score will have a strong presence during dramatic scenes while it will be ambient when Drake is in the middle of no where.

The music, much like the first, will indicate when a fire fight begins and when it ends.

Gameplay:

Those who played the first may describe gun fights as rather linear, as the fire fights were self-contained in small rooms or outdoor areas, some of which had little to no cover.

Fortunately, not only is the game play much more varied, but also improved. Levels are bigger, more-open ended, letting Drake utilize his new steal abilities.

If Drake sneaks behind an enemy, with a quick tap of the [] button, Drake will instantly kill them. This also works when in cover and the enemy is about to turn to discover Drake. For those who like to go in guns blazing, you will be pleased to hear the fire fights offer more variety. Not only are there new guns, but the more open ended levels make each battle feel different.

If neither stealth nor an all out shooting appear does not sound appealing, then you can utilize the new melee system. No longer forced to time punches to form a brutal combo, the melee system now uses countering. An enemy may block a punch and return the favor, but now you can press the /\ to dodge the attack and finish him off with []. Some enemies will simply be killed with the [], while others will be able to guard it completely.

Even grenades have been improved. Now able to carry four instead of two, Drake can now throw them while in cover and aim them using L2 instead of using motion controls.

What is great about the battles is how easy and intuitive the controls are. L1 lets you aim a gun while R1 is to fire. If in cover, you can hit R1 to simply blind fire. If running, you can press R1 to fire from the hip.

X is to jump, while /\ is used to pick up objects and perform other special moves. You have full control of the camera while the right analog stick is used to move. O is to drop from ledges and to take cover, while [] is used to melee (as explained before).

The controls have become much better, but sometimes Drake sticks to cover a bit too often. However, this is only a tiny nuisance and does not detract from the experience.

As Drake performs these stunts, the player will notice no loading times outside of the initial boot up. Also, with no install, Naughty Dog has made a technical powerhouse.

Many said the first had no replay value due to being a single player experience, but not only does Uncharted 2 have a longer single campaign, it also has a full fledge multiplayer component.

Multiplayer / Replay Value:

Single player takes 10-12 hours, but the game will require at least 2 playthroughs to unlock all difficulties, necessary for those who want to get all trophies.

In addition to collecting trophies, the game has its own medal system and a store to unlock a multitude of items, from in game tweaks to skins to weapons.

Multiplayer includes two modes, competitive and cooperative.

Competitive mode, for up to 10 players, includes death match, elimination, etc… Cooperative mode supports 3 players with arena to take down enemies, objectives, where you fulfill certain tasks, etc… These matches can be customized to your own liking. For example, you can have a death match using only RPGs.

As you play matches, you will earn money. Not only do you earn money when killing an opponent, but you can also win medals by fulfilling certain requirements. For example, you will get a double down medal if you kill two opponents simultaneously. The money you earn can be used in the store, separate from the single player, to buy perks and skins.

Overall:

This game is a must buy for all Playstation 3 owners who enjoy third person shooters, puzzle solving, platforming hybrids. With a great single player and an in depth multiplayer, this game is well worth the purchase.

Quick Recap:

Graphics: Superb, pushing the Playstation 3. The level variety is much more diverse than the first, offering destroyed temples, jungles, and mountains.

Sound: The excellent voice work combined with witty dialog make each character sound realistic and likeable. The score is a bit lacking, but the tracks during the scenes sound good.

Story: A longer tale than the first, the game is both witty and entertaining. Full of plot twists and great lore, the game grips the player from the first moments to the ending credits.

Replay Value: With a 10 hour campaign and a full multiplayer component, the game is definitely worth the full price. There are treasures to collect (100 in total), medals to gather (some granting you trophies) and a multiplayer system that awards those with lots of money aka rank (able to use perks).

Final Score: 9.6/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/23/09

Game Release: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (US, 10/13/09)


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