Review by Niveus_Vulpes

"Uncharted, charted."

Uncharted 2 is not packed with highly innovative ideas. Whilst one may see this as a flaw, it is actually beneficial to the game. What Uncharted 2 does is take aspects of gaming from many different games, such as Tomb Raider and Gears of War, and polishes them to near perfection. Along with this, it throws in a Indiana Jones style story, that is executed in such a way that Hollywood would be proud of, and stunning visuals, which are more than on par with anything this generation has produced so far. In all, it is not a perfect game, but comes pretty close to being so. Closer than almost anything else that is currently purchasable.

Gameplay

For those who have played the first Uncharted game, you will be pleased to know that the gameplay has not changed greatly. Instead, it has been polished, so that the game plays more fluidly than it's predecessor. The game is a mix of 'Gears of War' style third person shooting and 'Tomb Raider' style acrobatics. The shooting is smooth, with the controls feeling respondent and crisp. The game uses the same cover system as in the first game, with a quick button tap flattening the character up against the nearest cover. The cover system, for the most part, is very useful and non-problematic. The one gripe with it is once in a while you will find yourself attaching the character to the wrong bit of cover, or (as the same button is used to roll) you will attach to cover when trying to roll away. This can be annoying at times, but doesn't happen to often.

The acrobatic segments make use of a free climbing dynamic, similar to that of 'Assassin's Creed'. The acrobatics make up the puzzle section of the game, and provide the player with a chance to admire the fantastic and diverse scenery. The difficulty is quite lacking in these segments though, which helps maintain the flow of the game, but may put puzzle fans off slightly.

The controls for the multiplayer section of the game are identical to that of the single player, and work very well in the competitive multiplayer modes. The grenade system has changed since the first game, with grenades no longer being a part of the weapon selection. Instead, grenades are thrown simply by using the L2 button, a tap to throw where the reticule is pointing, or holding the button in order to angle the throw. This is a welcome change, and makes grenades a lot more useful and easier to manage than in the first game.

Story

As an adventure game, the Uncharted 2 experience is very reliant on it's character driven storyline, and it does not fail to deliver. Imagine a ten hour long Indiana Jones movie, with deeper characters, greater involvement and huge diversity of setting, and you have Uncharted 2. It follows Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter, and his various companions on a quest to find a historical treasure. The characters are hugely diverse, and each is well developed and perfectly voiced. Cut-scenes are used to tell the bulk of the story, and most are so close to being scenes from a blockbuster movie that you will have to remind yourself that you are still playing a video game. The plot is humorous, and whilst it is not exactly highly original, it succeeds in being engaging and it never gets old. The game also manages to tell portions of the story during gameplay, with witty dialogue constantly bouncing between characters. This adds greater depth to the storyline, and helps blend the transition between cut-scene and game-play.

Presentation (Graphics and Sound)

This game is beautiful. There's no two ways around it, it is simply stunning. The consistency of detail in such a diverse range of environments is nothing short of amazing. Each building seems to be made up of a different pattern of bricks, with smoke billowing in the air and water rippling to the slightest touch. The environments incredibly realistic, and seem to be alive with life and colour. The character design is flawless, with each wrinkle and pore showing, and moving in sync with the characters expression, or movement. The lighting is where the game really shines (no pun intended). Shadows fall dynamically on characters and environments, with trees swaying in the wind causing massively detailed shadows to sweep across the screen. The graphics easily stand up to anything of the current gen, and set the bar for future titles.

The soundtrack is nothing short of brilliant also, with epic orchestral tracks that enhance the mood of the game perfectly. The gun sounds are accurate, and crisp, and the ambient background noises really bring the environments to life. The voice acting is spot on also, with every delivery hitting the target without fail. All in all, this is the best presented game made so far, with production values going through the roof.

Lifespan

While the story is not too long, at between ten and twelve hours, it is long enough. Any longer and the story may have dragged, or it may have been easy to lose interest. Instead the game grips you and makes it very hard for you to put the controller down. Either way, the game offers many reasons to keep coming back after completing the single player portion of the game. There are various in game medals to obtain, by completing small objectives in the single player mode, such as a certain number of head-shots, or melee kills in a row. Collecting these gives you reward points to spend in the in game store, to buy bonuses such as videos, concept art, character models or game tweaks. For those who enjoy the game, this gives plenty of reason to play again and be rewarded for doing so.

New to Uncharted 2 is the inclusion of multiplayer. The multiplayer is nothing revolutionary, but it is wildly fun, with a variety of game modes to accommodate every-bodies wants. These include death matches, various objective driven competitive games, and various co-op games. All the game modes are highly polished and functional, with nothing too noticeable in the way of technical issues. The multiplayer also offers a medal system, similar to the single player. Completing certain objectives will award the player a medal, and a cash bonus along with it. The cash can then be used to buy things such as multiplayer skins, taunts, coop gun upgrades and boosters (character upgrades which enhance certain aspects of your gameplay). The overall cash you have gained is used as experience, for you to level up your character, and gain access to new content in the store. This progression is nicely handled, with levels not taking too long or too short, and the progression is rewarding enough to keep you coming back.

All in all, there is always something to do whilst playing Uncharted 2, and it never feels like a chore to do anything, thanks to the reward system. It is a game that lasts as long as you play it.

Conclusion

For those who played the first Uncharted and liked it, this is a must have. It is very much the same, just bigger and better. For those new to the series it is still a must have, the first game is not needed to fully appreciate this title, although you would be missing out on another great game. Every aspect of the game is polished and smooth, and it is very hard to find faults. Despite this, a few faults are there. The cover system is great, but not perfect, there are a few small bugs and glitches, and the game selection in multiplayer is slightly limiting. You can search for a umbrella game mode, such as deathmatch, or objective, but not specific maps or weapon limitations. Instead, you are given a random choice of two games before the match, and each player gets to vote on one or the other. This is not a huge annoyance, but it seems curiously limiting.

Never the less, these are minor faults, and do not take away from the experience in the slightest. I would recommend whole heartedly that you purchase this game.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/26/09

Game Release: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Limited Edition Collector's Box) (EU, 10/16/09)


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