Uncharted 2 : Among Thieves – Reviewed

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Today sees the local launch of Uncharted 2, the sequel to one of the very best games released in 2007. The rabid fans among you will already be clutching your copies, eager to embark on the adventure that awaits.

Those of you who’re on the fence about it, ambivalent to the hyperbole might need a push to see if it’ worth your money. Let’s take a look and see if one of 2009’s most anticipated games is deserving of your cash.

The game has you take the reins as Nathan Drake, a not entirely noble man who ekes out a living as a treasure hunter. In Among Thieves you’re following a trail left by intrepid and infamous Marco Polo – one that’ll take you to some of the most breathtaking landscapes ever committed to code.

From the very moment you start playing, you’ll be impressed by one of the game’s biggest selling points; its incredible visuals. This is without doubt one of – if not the – most impressive games you’ll play on any platform this year. Beyond the technical prowess displayed, Naughty Dog have also managed an art direction that coupled with the incredible attention to detail produces a game so visually engaging that it’s difficult sometimes to not just stand around, taking in the resplendent sights in awe.

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From a gameplay perspective the game plays much like the original Uncharted – a delightful blend of Tomb Raider adventure platforming and Gears of War style cover based combat. Included is a stealth mechanic that allows Drake to take unwitting would-be assailants down quickly and easily. In short, the game provides nothing particularly new – but what it does provide is so refined and polished that its lack of originality isn’t a negative.

A word that’ll often get thrown around Uncharted 2 is “cinematic”which this game certainly is. There are so many action-packed, thrilling, memorable moments – none of which I’ll spoil here – that rival the very best that Hollywood has delivered.

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While those aspects of the game are exceptional, Uncharted 2’s greatest strength is in its characterisation. Thanks to the superlative human animation – most notably its incredibly natural facial animation and the humourous, engaging dialogue Drake shares with his AI-controlled companions – the characters come to life and it’s hard not to feel attached to them.

It’s not perfect though – You may, like I was, be slightly underwhelmed by the game’s first two, almost claustrophobic levels – but once you get to the third the game’s areas open up a little, and you’d have to be bull-headedly unyielding not to be astonished. I also found that the game got a little combat-heavy towards the end of the game. Minor issues that don’t detract from the game whatsoever.

New in Uncharted is multiplayer, which Naughty Dog have taken great steps to ensure doesn’t feel tacked-on. Included are both co-operative and competitive modes of play – all of which take place in variations of locations from the single player game. Competitive multiplayer allows for objective based as well as standard deathmatch fare. Playing in any of the modes allows the player to earn cash, weapon upgrades and perks, and levelling up brings with it a sense of accomplishment that’ll ensure the longevity of the multiplayer aspect.

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Uncharted 2 presents a synergy not often seen in video games; the combined effect of all of its parts is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Everything from the breathtaking visuals, to the absorbing gameplay  and most importantly its well crafted story work co-operatively to bring you a defining gaming experience.

If you have a Playstation 3, then Uncharted 2 belongs in your collection it’s a game every PS3 owner should have. If you don’t, then just know that you’re missing out on one of this generation’s best. I’ve never considered a single game worth buying a console for – but Uncharted 2 may just be the game to break that resolution.

Scoring

Gameplay: 9.0
Plays like the beautiful love child of Tomb Raider and Gears of War.

Presentation: 9.5
Best looking game available on any platform right now, including PC.

Sound: 9.5
Incredible. professional voice work helps drive the finely crafted story.

Value: 9.5
Roughly 11 hours for the single-player game, disregarding collectibles and trophies.Your multiplayer mileage may vary.

Overall: 9.5 – Buy this game.

Last Updated: October 16, 2009

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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