Review by Dart94

"Thrilling themes and stunning visuals result in a very enjoyable game"

Casual videogame fans should be thrilled with Uncharted II: Among Thieves, which is undeniably the most jaw-dropping game of the year. By that, I mean it's downright revolutionary. Game developers who pride themselves on aesthetics will be held to the standard set by Uncharted II. Vision is a tool that is capitalized on and ran with. The painstakingly detailed props and relics are reminiscent of Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom and the breathtaking expanses are something you'd expect in Lord of the Rings (but there's no furry-footed hobbits, unfortunately).

The developers, Naughty Dog, have hit a new high. Everything in Among Thieves oozes thriller – the sound, the dialogue, the plot. This is an epic. It's purpose of creating a riveting experience is served well by doubling stakes and one-upmanship. What makes an action-adventure work? It's the feel – the sense, the environment, the immersion. Written text on a screen can't describe it. A good action-adventure makes a dynamic plot take second-tier status; the game's environment can take over.

As you control Drake, you get some of the standard videogame fare: puzzles, shootouts, and level navigation. At times the gameplay drags, but maybe I'm just picky. To me, the most desirable trait in a game is that it's non-linear. A non-linear game of the action-adventure genre is almost a contradiction in terms, as your path for adventure is set. Deviating significantly is impractical from the programming perspective, not to mention a waste of time for the gamer. For all that, the game keeps a fresh feel with it's variety. Drake travels to drastically different areas of the world, each lucid and fluid in it's own way, each requiring it's own resolution.

Some will complain that Among Thieves relies on it's lucid visuals too much. The visuals are striking, though the game is buoyed by the dramatic changes of pace (more than the previous title) and the sympathetic characters (you want Drake and his friend's to find the promised land). The writing and plot devices lack novelty--for instance, the romance feels requisite and pointless--though describing them as hackneyed would be gratuitous. To be sure, you don't simply run around in the wilderness, though: there's legitimate dues paid to the story. The underlying theme (treasure and adventure) is enticing and executed well enough to overshadow any of these little quibbles, anyway.

The controls are as good as any. The layout is expectedly basic and easy to use. The combat is satisfying. Depending on the varying locales, your weapon of choice can be unique. Basic gunplay, though, is done well for a third person shooter. There isn't a great deal of emphasis on the guns themselves, it's more the idea that you're using them to accomplish your goal: that is, to get past whatever-the-hell that's in your way.

Uncharted II is the precipice of it's genre. For the most part, it glibly cruises, leaving the gamer to sit back and enjoy. The awe and immersion are in no short supply, and plenty of entertainment can certainly be found. I'd rank Uncharted II with any of the modern classics (Fallout, Bioshock), maybe it's on the lower echelon of that group, but it's nonetheless an accomplishment in gaming that's been too rare lately. This is a much-needed score for Sony, and boy, did they really score. With the small surge in console sales as the result of lowered prices, I expect this title alone to edge Sony into the lead.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/14/09

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

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