Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Review
Despondant. Wounded. Freezing to death on a train hanging precariously over a 1000ft+ cliff edge, left with the difficult desicion of letting go or hanging on.
Perhaps not the greatest way to start your sunday morning it has to be said, but out of luck treasure hunter Nathan Drake has no time to complain, as he finds himself in this dilemma - aptly chaptered 'A Rock And A Hard Place' - after an unfortunate turn of events. And after this frankly brilliant introduction, you will be treated to what is, without so much as a shred of doubt, one of the greatest games ever made. Strong words you might say, but they aren't enitrely without virtue; the oscar-worthy soundtrack, the incredibly refined gameplay & the beautiful visuals all give more than enough conviction as to why this can be suggested as the greatest game ever made.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the game is heavily character-driven. And as fantastic as these creations are, they wouldn't be anywhere near as realised if Naughty Dog didn't have such a knack for finding just the right voice-acting talent for their characters. Nolan North, Emily Rose & Richard McGonagle all resume their respective roles as Nathan Drake, Elena Fisher & Victor Sullivan, and all do an outstanding job - even better than their last outing, infact. However, as well as old faces, there are also some new ones: Harry Flynn, played by Steve Valentine, an old english friend of Nate who seems jolly enough, Chloe Frazer, played by Claudia Black, an Australian, a friend of Flynns and Nates new love intrest, Zoran Lazervic, played by Graham McTavish, a russian warlord (the new antagonist) who is out of control, among others. All these new characters are just as brilliant, but all share one thing in common - and that something is what the whole story & plotline is built around. I will avoid spewing spoilers (although much is hinted in the title itself), but know this: It is an extremely well written game & has the type of story you'd expect in a AAA blockbuster hollywood film - and I don't mean that in a bad way.
The thing that truly sends this game into another dimension is the beautiful visuals. From the unique art found in the lavish enviroments, to the minsicule pore detail on Nathan Drakes face, Uncharted 2 has got to be the best-looking game out there. The visuals are stylised in such a way that they look like real-life, but at the same time have that 'cartoony' - or is it 'gamey'? - look to it. This is great metaphor for the law of Uncharted; the game always strives for the fantasy side of things (I can jump 20ft, land on my feet, and not break a leg...whaa?), but it's still believeable. Now, towards the end of the game, you may begin to question that law, but I think it still withstands.
Another thing that this game does best is seguing between different chapters seamlessly. The beats of the story just go hand-in-hand with the gameplay e.g. No gameplay segments feel 'penciled-in' for the sake of the story, or vice versa. This means that the player is fully immersed because of the immpecible pacing, which can take you from trying run away from a tank while dealing with a bunch of bad guys, to exploring a cave filled with ancient mysteriousness, and figuring out headscratcher puzzles. These three pillars of gameplay - gunplay, exploration/platforming & puzzle-solving - are all super-refined, and with the pacing make this game hard to put down.
Now, moving on to the magical music. It just feels as though the game was made for the music, rather than the other way round. It's like the theme tunes of Indianna Jones (come to think of it, this game actually bears alot of resemblance to it, doesn't it), James bond etc, the films with soundtracks you just have to buy once you've seen it in the cinema. And trust me, the music in Uncharted 2 is just as good as the sub score suggests, & the OST on the PS store was worth every penny I payed. Lastly, & though I've already mentioned the outstanding job the voice-actors did, let me just reiterate: This is the best voice-acting you're ever likely to see - & that's not just limited to games.
In a new edition to the Uncharted franchise, multiplayer has been included. Now, I was a participant in the both betas and, when both were available, it was the only game I played. This was due to excellent gameplay improvements that were highlighted in the multiplayer (for example, the latency between pressing R1 and actually firing the gun matters a whole lot more in the heat of multiplayer battle, so that was shortened), and the fact that the same gameplay that you find in the single player experiance was perfectly translated into the multiplayer i.e Anything you can do in single player, you can do in multiplayer. The thing that seperates Uncharted apart from other multiplayer games out there (and also what makes it so damn good), is the platforming aspects of it. You have such a plethora of traversal moves at your disposal, that you can get out of any hairy situation you might find yourself in, and quickly turn the tables on your enemy(s). Not only this, but the fact that the game operates at a stable 30 frames a second, with 0 screen tear (which can't be said for the first game), make it that much more enjoyable.
So, was that justification enough? No - it wasn't. Anyone who considers themself a gamer NEEDS to play this. Just about every faceat of this game is the eptitome of gaming. You owe it to yourself - and really, the industry; the more sales for this kind of quality can only be a good thing - to play this game.
5/20/2012 Guest, "Ludicrous_Liam"