Review by neonreaper
"A well-balanced game with some boring stretches and mediocre characters"
The original Uncharted was big on presentation and graphics, but fell short in the gameplay department. Not a bad game, but the typical action sequences were boring shootouts with third person shooting mechanics that certainly fall short of the other big boys in the genre. The result... a lot of cool scenes and epic moments, but poor pacing and boring action in between.
This sequel starts off with an awesome sequence, and makes sure to keep the player exhilarated by gorgeous scenery and dramatic events. We're still being excited by the amount of sizzle we have, and indeed Uncharted 2 takes it to a whole new level. That was never in doubt, but what we really want to know is... how fun is the game to actually play?
Uncharted 2 has better pacing and balance than the original, that's for sure. Action sequences are a bit more scripted and planned out. The original was basically just a room/area full of waist high obstacles to hide behind and bullet-sponge enemies to fill with bullets. Here, we have much more interesting environments to shoot through. Even if the controls and mechanics still lag behind other genre leaders, it's much more fun to get through. Random guards from the first game were boring and felt like artificial game lengtheners... instead we have specific situations we need to shoot our way through now. Not only that, but the stealth concept is much better realized and planned out. There are parts of this game that you have to shoot your way through, but there are also areas where you can stealth through, or some combination of stealth and violence. Those are my favorite parts of the game.
The climbing sections usually involve some awesome area design, but are boring and drag on a bit too long. Even one of the characters complains at the end of the game about the exhaustive amount of climbing the game forces the player to endure. The rest of the game is paced very well and exciting, sadly the climbing just seems like "something to get through". There's an exception for one point of the game where the action slows down, this part is paced perfectly and helps to delve into some characterization.
Obviously everything looks and sounds great. The story is decent enough, though very predictable in general. You won't be bored with it, even if it isn't a wholly satisfying narrative.
The characters are a problem at times. Sully is terrific but there's not enough of him. Drake is a poorly realized character in many ways. Elena takes a step down from the quality in the first game, her personality conforming more to be a damsel for Drake to rescue than anything. The new characters are pretty good but feel very temporary, even the ones that seem like they will stick around for the rest of the series. Back to Drake... what is he? He tries to be funny often, but he's usually just amusing at best. He's a criminal, a liar, a cold-blooded murderer, and a backstabber, but it seems like they want to try and make him seem to have his heart in the right place. But we only truly see that in small gestures (giving kids a ball they kicked away) or preventing worldwide calamities. Anything in between, which represents the significant depth of his personality, and he's terrible. His motivations are personal benefit but they try to keep him away from seeming truly greedy, even if that's what he really is. Drake's motivations are stretched and inconsistent and you never really let yourself sink in with him and enjoy the adventure. Not that you're looking for great characters in a game like this... but you'd at least want a proper identity for your protagonist.
Multiplayer is a nice touch, but having superior options in the genre prevented me from bothering to play much. If you don't have a PC or Xbox, then this might be one of the better multi experience you can expect.
Uncharted really knocks the big cinematic action sequences out of the park. It'd be nice if they could write characters a bit better, and trim the fat with the climbing sequences - we might see a true GOTY contender.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/13/11
Game Release: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (US, 10/13/09)
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