Review by MattD2779
"Presentation alone does not a good game make (spoilers)"
GameFAQs users and professional reviewers alike have showered Uncharted 2 with 9s and 10s like they were handing out candy on Halloween. It's my personal opinion that this game doesn't deserve a single one of them, and it's my pleasure to write a brutally honest and ultimately scathing review of this over-hyped, purposeless, bimbo of a game. Let's break it down...
Absolutely beautiful during every second of game play. A true masterpiece for the PS3. Each environment is richly detailed and quite diversified. There are beautiful scenes in the jungle, dungeons, cities, small towns, and mountain landscapes. It's not often you see a game with so many different kinds of environments and each one of them detailed to perfection. Special effects such as fire, explosions, water, and lighting effects are of the same high quality. Character models are good looking also (especially Chloe - wow, Nathan Drake is one lucky guy!).
The best graphics you will see in the game, though, are the images of scenery when you are on top of a tall building or similar vantage point. You can see for miles and miles, and every inch is as richly detailed as the floor underneath your feet. To be perfectly honest though, this scenery is a cop-out. Sure it's beautiful, but it isn't real. What I mean is, you can't ever go there. The game's extremely linear course means that you can't travel wherever you want. This scenery is nothing more than a picture pasted on the screen to give you eye candy. It's not like Assassin's Creed, where you can see for the same distance AND climb all over everything you see. It doesn't make the scenery any less beautiful, but it does make it less impressive.
I can't imagine sound quality being any better on the current generation of video games. Voices, gunshots, ricochets, vehicle engine sounds, environmental noises, and voices all come through clear as a bell. There are no pops, squeaks, or fuzzy interference. Nothing to complain about in this department.
CONTROL / GAMEPLAY: 5/10
And it's all downhill from here. This game reminds me of another Naughty Dog PS3 exclusive: inFamous. You can read my full review of inFamous here on GameFAQs, but here's the gist of it: controls for shooting are superb. Controls for everything else are pitiful and may provoke violent cursing outbursts.
There's nothing I hate more than a video game character who doesn't do what I tell him, and Nathan Drake doesn't do hardly anything you want him to. He jumps the wrong way, dives right into gunfire or grenades, walks off cliffs, picks up the wrong weapon, takes cover on the wrong side of the wall, and punches people in the back of the head when he should be wrapping his arms around their throats and throttling them stealthily. Nathan doesn't understand the difference between up and down, and he would much rather plummet to his death than grab the ledge that's 2 inches away from his hand. Let me be clear on one point: The controls are not DIFFICULT. The controls are just BAD. As if the controls weren't horrendous enough, Naughty Dog felt the need to screw things up even worse by forcing you to put up with cinematic camera angles in certain parts instead of just giving you control, so during certain sequences, you're forced to look at the beautiful mountain scenery instead of where you're supposed to be going. I promise you that 90% of your deaths on this game with be due to control issues and bad camera angles, not from a gunshot wound to the face.
Sure, you can get a sweet head shot from a mile away and drop a grenade on a dime, but are we really impressed by this anymore? With the market flooded up to its eyeballs in first person shooters, are we really still thrilled when a bullet actually lands where we aim it? I'm not. I seem to remember Duck Hunt accomplishing this feat 25 years ago, so congratulations on consistently getting one aspect of the controls right, Naughty Dog! Your cyanide-laced cookie is in the mail.
STORY (spoilers here): 3/10
If you haven't done so already, please read GameFAQs' summary of the plot on the home page for this game. In the late 13th century, Marco Polo went somewhere, and he loaded up a whole bunch of nifty treasure, but then he lost most of it, and he never told anyone what happened to it, but he did leave behind clues to its whereabouts so that a future treasure hunter could discover it. Now Nathan Drake is off on a globe trotting quest to claim the lost treasure for himself and his girlfriends (plural, not a typo), and have some fun killing bad guys along the way.
This story sounds like a winner, but then it all goes horribly wrong. Turns out that there's a MAGIC STONE included in the treasure, and the villain wants it so he can gain SUPER POWERS and take over the world. Give me a freakin' break! Isn't riches beyond one's wildest dreams a good enough reason to go treasure hunting? Do we really need a "WIPE OUT THE WORLD WITH AN ARMY OF MONSTERS" plot twist as motivation?
My last thread of patience with this game finally broke when I had to fight a bulletproof yeti who was a ninja master of close quarters combat. I wish I was kidding. You go from gunfights, and explosions, and train wrecks to fist fighting the abominable snowman... and Frosty knows kung fu! This illegitimate love-child of "National Treasure" and "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is corny, lazy, way over-the-top, and a product of blatant stupidity.
All things considered, this over-rated game isn't worth your 50-60 bucks, but you should rent it just to see the spectacular graphics and hear the brilliant voice acting. There is absolutely no reason to play it after you've completed the story mode one time. Sure, there is a good multiplayer component to this game including co-op and versus modes, but if what you really want is online play, buy Modern Warfare 2 instead. The online community is much bigger, and it doesn't treat you like a chump with half-baked platforming controls and poor camera angles.
In the end, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is nothing but a bimbo. She looks great, and she makes some great noises but spending extended periods of time with her is about as pleasant as swallowing broken glass. She never does what you ask her to do, and all her stories involve idiotic fantasies about expensive, shiny stones. You won't have a long and meaningful relationship with her, and you'll have more fun with your friends if you bring a different girl to the party.
Uncharted 2 serves no purpose whatsoever other than showing off the PS3's graphical capability, which is substantial. If that's all you want from a PS3 exclusive, then by all means, this is the game for you. Uncharted 2 is the perfect game to show off to your friends with an Xbox 360 when you want to show them just how bad their system sucks. Then, when they leave your house depressed because they bought the wrong system, you can put Uncharted 2 back on the shelf where it will collect dust for the remainder of the PS3's lifespan. Rent it, play it, beat it, enjoy everything it does right, and try not to get frustrated with everything it miserably fails to do.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 12/07/09
Game Release: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (US, 10/13/09)
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