Review by Buck_Swaggler

"Vastly Improved"

Take the on the roll of Nathan Drake for another adventurous treasure hunt, chasing the legacy of Marco Polo.

Naughty Dog has made a swath of improvements since the previous installment.

Lately there has been much discussion about the connections between video games and movies. Well, this is what they've been talking about. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is basically an interactive action movie. Thanks to one small concept this is hardly an exaggeration. There are no in game loading screens. As far as I remember there isn't one time that it cuts from gameplay to cutscene with loading in between. Not only that but the game constantly flows in and out of cutscene and gameplay with a silky smooth stride. Previous to playing the game, I read another review where the reviewer stated that he would wonder if he was watching a cutscene or if he was supposed to be controlling the character. Unbelievably... the same thing happened to me... several times. This game is the definition of cinematic.

Visually, Uncharted 2 is an unquestionable masterpiece. The attention to detail is simply astounding. Nathan Drake, nor, about anyone else, has ever felt so alive in a game. He has a zillion different animations. Simply climbing around can be a somewhat mind boggling thing to watch. They made an obvious effort to make each moment "feel" right. Not just from how everything moves but also how it changes. Little details like snow accumulating on areas of clothing that touch snowy ground, and your shirt looking soaked after rolling through a puddle to dodge gunfire really make this game shine. The NPCs surrounding Nate are just as polished. You'll be hard pressed to find anything that looks the least bit clunky. However, all the beauty isn't in the characters. In fact, as superb as they are, the characters may actually pale in comparison to the backgrounds. The levels, though extremely linear, feel very natural. They also look really, really nice. Every detail was attended to. The designers must have been so unrealistically meticulous and dedicated. I defy anyone to find a repeating pattern in any of the game's backgrounds. It's truly insane. It's hard to say, but I've considered that they may be the nicest looking backdrops in video game history... seriously.

It doesn't just look good, though. It's the whole ensemble. Everything about this game screams "Box office action movie!" From the mood music pacing the way, to the cheerful sound of finding a treasure, to the rush of bass during a battle. It proceeds with a very natural flow. As well, the voice over is pinpoint, with acting as good as any great action movie. Actually, I bet someone will make an action movie based on this game with less quality acting than the game itself. The jokes land and the drama builds. And in the end it's actually very entertaining.

Within the first 20 minutes or so, during a sneaking/tutorial portion I stumbled onto some erroneous game mechanics. I snuck up to a guard leaning on a fountain and swung, but missed. My elbow was a half-inch from his ear, yet he didn't notice me. So, I crept closer and swung again, and again. After about 4 or so tries I got him. But, why didn't he notice me? Why did I elbow straight through his cranium like 3x, with no effect? After that I was just looking for the next problem... waiting... but... it just wouldn't come. It just kept getting better and better. There are areas where you have teammates to help you fight. There are loads of weapons, and this time, all of them are fairly well balanced. The action is exciting with streams of scripted events to knock you off guard. Not only that but the environments play a much more impactful role in combat than last time. There are very few moments where you just sit around while enemies come in droves. Also the AI has improved and baddies will no longer just stay in one place flaunting their infinite ammo at a passive wall. They will flank you, they find better cover, and they will likely to do something different next time, if you have to replay an area. Sneaking actually works quite well. Scoping out an area before you've been noticed, then decisively creeping around doing stealth kills can be quite effective at some points. Even the platforming is entertaining, rarely feeling tedious. The game maintains a very nice flow. I really have to give it credit. The scenarios change non-stop, always providing new challenges, thrills, and game mechanics. Each moment flows seamlessly into the next with the apparent power to entrance all those within viewing distance. My girlfriend was into it, kinda like that commercial. It was a lot of fun.

Outside of top notch graphics and voice acting I felt the first Uncharted could hardly be considered "next gen." With its keep-shooting-that-wall AI and dated gunplay, along with the worst final boss battle in history. After beating it I was left feeling that it was all hype and lies. I can hardly say I had high hopes for Uncharted 2. At first I tried to pick it apart. I planned to write a review boasting about how overly hyped and ultimately craptacular it was. But, that's not how it went. The game refused to suck. I found myself eager to play more and crushing hours per sitting. I think I beat the game in 2 days. I have my quibbles. It is short, I beat with under 12 hours on the game clock. That includes whatever time I left the game on while I did other things like I usually do. Plus, I really thought it was erroneous that the Circle button was both Roll and Cover. It didn't get in the way too often, but when it did it would do things like throw me off cliffs and such. There were some holes in the story as well, but like I said, it was as good as any action movie. I felt it was much better, and funnier, than the previous. Is it the best reason to own a PS3? Certainly not. Is it overly hyped? Yeah. But, when its said and done, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is awesome.

I give it an 8.5. Vastly Improved


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/18/09

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


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