Review by XSoulFulGaMeRX
"Does it live up to the hype? In most ways, yes it does."
Naughty Dog is known for their mastery at hardware that may be too difficult for other companies to even study. Thus, enter the Cell Processor, which has been elaborately taken advantage of for this installment to the Uncharted series.
Nathan Drake from the first Uncharted was a wise-cracking but competent individual, who sought to find treasures of gold from his ancestor's remains. Along the way, he meets Sully and Elena, who aid him in finding said treasure along with keeping the bad guys at bay.
The second Uncharted talks about Marco Polo and his lost ships. Once again Nathan is on a quest across beautiful outdoor environments, fighting through waves of baddies, and slowly solving the clues to the treasure as he goes.. Does he succeed?
Beautiful outdoor environments
Lets get this out of the way: Uncharted 2 is a marvelous looking game. Naughty Dog once again prove that they are the masters at difficult technology. Jak 3 was arguably one of the best looking games last gen, able to stand up to it's more powerful Xbox competition. Uncharted 2 definitely looks the part of "successor" to that, only now it's on a console with arguably as much power as the competition (except the Wii, of course, ha).
I will point out that it's by no means perfect. Let's back up a bit. The best looking games this generation that I've played before this were Killzone 2, Gears of War 2, and Halo 3. WAIT, before you flame me for speaking of Halo 3, I'll give my reasons.
- Killzone 2 had the best enemy animation I've ever seen.
- Gears of War 2 has the best texture work of any game to date on a console. Unfortunately,
- Halo 3, on the other hand, looks better than most games, but pales in comparison to the aforementioned... until you realize that it can render a game that looks better than most other games FOUR TIMES on a split screen mode. It's the best looking split-screen game ever. It's by no means a looker otherwise, but it does push technology in a different way, and deserves more respect than it's been given.
Uncharted 2 is right up there with them: It does environments better than any other game I've seen. The designs are staggering: snow levels, tropical environments, third world towns, ancient ruins, ships, etc. The thing that Naughty Dog does best is polygons. There are so many moving physics on the polygons in the world, and it really does look realistic.
There are a few rough edges: Nathan's hair is a bit low-res, the enemies are kind of similar looking, and the animations, which are nicely mocap'd, sometimes look like the mocap'd individuals were standing on flat ground the whole time. Thus, Nathan's movements sometimes don't match the ground he's on perfectly, but it's not noticeable after a few minutes in.
Overall, among the top looking games this generation. I'm giving this an 11/10, because I think it goes beyond what I expected of this generation, just like KZ2 and Gears 2 did. 11/10
Fighting through waves of baddies
Uncharted 1 was more action than anything else. It had a few climbing segments, but once you were done, you were back to shooting, then a cutscene, then shooting again. It was a tired formula. Uncharted 2 actually is paced much better.
The shooting segments are more "epic" this time around, but there are definitely more chances to climb. You have to scale sides of elaborately designed cliffs, which took me by surprise. The shooting, though similar to Gears of War, feels different. It's like the difference between playing a Medal of Honor game, then an Unreal Tournament game. The weapons are actually MUCH more reactive than anything in Gears of War.
The cover system is similar, but since the gunplay feels a lot more unique, I can't really fault Naughty Dog for taking it and making their own. I do kind of wish that the environments could be explored a bit more, but since it's definitely not the focus of the game, it doesn't hurt the actual gameplay too much. Seeing as how the transition between gameplay and cutscene is much smoother this time around, the pre-scripted stuff actually works in it's favor.
On the other hand, once the game is over, you have a slew of multiplayer modes to choose from. Considering that they're the same types of modes from other similar games, it's nothing to complain about, but nothing too original. It is fun, however, though to be honest, I didn't play it long enough to really know how deep it can go.
If there was one thing to be disappointed about, it's the length. If I recall correctly, gametrailers mentioned that this game was several hours longer than the first. It took me 9 hours to beat. It's a good length for the game, but since there's nothing to do afterwards other than multiplayer, it's kind of a letdown: you're given a thrill ride of a game, and the ride comes to a bumpy end of the track, rather than a smooth descent. You can replay to get find the collectibles, but I didn't feel like there was much incentive to do so.
It's still fun, though, and since I did play it through in 2 sittings, it obviously shows that it captured me enough to get me through the game. 8/10
Solving the clues to the treasure
The actual story takes a bit of a back seat to the gameplay. It's definitely there, and the relationship that Nathan has with Elena and newcomer Chloe is very convincing.
It is more of an action hollywood-esque film in this regard. You know how movies such as Triple XXX or such have bad stories, but amazing action sequences? Uncharted 2 definitely prefers the latter compared to the first, but with a good story: it's nowhere near as good as most Hollywood classics, but it dos get the job done, and does make you want to know what happens at the end.
So despite being a bit shallow, it's still a thrilling tale, and is adequate compared to most bad stories in hollywood action films. 8/10
It's one of the best looking games this generation, along with some high adrenaline gameplay sequences coupled with an adequate story to push it through to the end. It's a rare sequel: one that's better than it's average predecessor in every way, and succeeds at being better than most games while it's at it.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/19/09
Game Release: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (US, 10/13/09)
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