A Modern Classic: Uncharted 2 Review

Uncharted 2 might have been released 2 years ago, but it’s such a genre defining game that I thought it would be nice to revisit why this game was so great, especially as it’s follow up garners more and more attention.

 Unarguably one of Playsation 3’s flagship series, the Uncharted games have cemented themselves as one of this generation’s greatest series. Drake’s Fortune, the first entry in the series, was released early in the PS3’s life, and it was one of the first killer apps for the system. It offered stellar combat, fun platforming, a beautiful landscape, a cinematic story, and interesting, lovable characters. However, the game was held back by several problems, such as a short campaign with no multiplayer, a repetitive setting, clunky melee combat, poorly designed vehicle sections, and occasionally clunky cover mechanics. There were a few things to be improved for the sequel and from the screenshots and trailers, hopes were high. So, did the developers, Naughty Dog, manage to deliver a worthy successor or a cheap cash-in on the original?

            Neither, actually. Uncharted 2 has been so much improved and refined that the original is barely worthy of having such a sequel.

Does it really deserve so much praise... ...Yes, yes it does.

            Uncharted 2 once again puts you in the shoes of wise cracking Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter and adventurer, who gets caught up in a race against foes to find the fabled land of Shambhala, for quite a variety of reasons. He is, of course, accompanied by his mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan, and bumps into his hold flame, Elena Fisher. He also encounters several new characters, such as Chloe Fraser, that are sure to become just as beloved as the other characters. The game takes place in a variety of locals, from a Turkish museum, to a jungle island off the coast of Borneo, to the snowy mountains of Nepal.

            The story follows a character driven plot, which is one of the game’s greatest strengths. Since the story on its own is slightly disappointing, it is a benefit to the game that it focuses so much on its well written and often humorous characters. Each one has a unique personality that is fully showcased throughout the game, and it really gives the player a chance to get to know and like the characters. The only problem with character development was in the form of Karl Schaffer. Without spoiling anything, he is simply brought out to be an important and integral part to the story, yet he is only given a few minutes of screen time, and it feels awkward when the other characters speak of him. Other than that, Uncharted 2 brings some of the most enjoyable cut scenes in gaming through the characters interactions, and they could almost make a quality film in themselves. However, the cut scenes don’t have something that lesser games have.

            The scripted action events in Uncharted 2 are perhaps the most exhilarating, intense, and breathtaking moments in any game in recent memory, due to one key feature; they are fully playable. So, be it climbing through a train car that’s about to fall off a cliff, sliding down a ramp on a giant brick platform while fighting enemies, or killing enemies inside a crumbling building, every event allows the player to control Drake. This is one of Uncharted 2’s best qualities, along with its characters, since it truly adds another level of immersion and intensity that few games can ever hope to match.

            The graphics and audio are both high point for not only the game, put the console as well. These are hands down some of the best looking environments in the systems history, both technically and artistically. Each area feels like a real place, be it the streets of a war-torn Nepal or the lush jungles of Borneo. The graphics also reflect the game’s humorous overtones, in that even though there is war and killing going on, the environments remain colourful, lively, and beautiful. On top of this, the game’s frame rate never drops in the slightest, and adds to the smooth and fluid experience that Uncharted brings. The only hiccup in the graphics department is that the player will occasionally notice some texture pop-ins, but it’s hardly large or frequent enough to hamper the experience. The audio is fantastic, making each area, each action, and each nuance come to life. The voice acting is also terrific, adding to the depth and believability of the story and characters. However, the music can be underwhelming at times. The game is filled to the brim with top notch action events, yet the music often can’t match the intensity or epic quality of these moments.

Nathan Drake: half Indiana Jones, half Captain Reynolds, complete badass.

            The gameplay is, oddly enough, the games weakest point, but not by much. Uncharted 2 is a third-person shooter-adventure game, and it excels at most of its aspects. The first thing the player is introduced to is the platforming, which is some of the smoothest and easy platforming one can find, and makes the game feel more fluid and coherent. The hand to hand combat is introduced next, and it has been vastly improved upon. Gone are the awkward and often misread combos. Instead, all the melee attacks are done by a single button, and a counter is a separate button (square and triangle by default). Everything flows very smoothly, and what seems dumbed down at first is later realized to be something that makes combat smoother and more enjoyable as a whole. The stealth attacks, only mildly used in the original, are now another great element of the sequel. Stealth is a great way to take out a few enemies before any encounter, and can often eliminate an entire force altogether. The combat itself is also really well done. Each weapon, of which there are many, has a unique feel and is useful in many circumstances. Shooting is the standard aim-and-shoot template, and like the rest of the game, is extremely smooth and easy to control, and just a joy to play. The AI are also intelligent, and they’ll dodge and roll to avoid attacks, punch Drake when they can, and successfully use cover. However, Drake himself tends to have trouble with cover. Often times Drake will not do what the player told him to, and instead of going to cover, he’ll hang of a nearby ledge. However, it’s hard to blame the game for this, since it’s hard to coordinate one’s movement when the player can look in every direction. Still, it does detract from the fun factor of the game. The puzzles are the worst aspect of this game, as they simply require the player to look at a picture, and match that picture in the game world. They are unimaginative, simplistic, and boring. So, although they are easy to solve and add to the fluidity of the game, they are too boring and simple to truly benefit the game.

            The length of the game is similar to that of the original, and it will take the average gamer roughly ten hours to complete it. However, this time there is a multiplayer component to keep the player coming back for more, and it is fantastic. Unlike so many other games today that have multiplayer components that feel vastly different than the single player, sometimes even developed by different companies, Uncharted 2’s multiplayer is derived straight from the single player experience, and all the elements that make the campaign great are in the multiplayer component. The game gives it’s own take on death matches, elimination matches, and capture the flag, all which offer a fun and uniquely Uncharted experience. The game also boasts a cooperative component where three players fight through slightly altered campaign missions, with hordes of enemies and puzzles. It’s an interesting experience, and although fun for a while, gets boring relatively quickly. The multiplayer also has a reward based levelling system that actually feels like it’s rewarding you for accomplishments instead of random events. All in all, the multiplayer is a great addition to an already great game.

You aren't a real man until you fight a tank with an assault rifle.

            Overall, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a phenomenal game. It just destroys everything competing with it. It boasts some very interesting and lovable characters, as well as an action packed story. The game takes breaths away with its beautiful art design and technical mastery. The combat is fast, fluid, and fun, and the multiplayer is a brilliant addition to the series. The playable action moments are some of the most memorable events in gaming, and really suck the player in. So although the game has a few hiccups here and there, it’s hard to deny that this game is truly one of the standout gaming experiences of this generation. A must buy for every PS3 owner.

Pros

–          Fun character driven plot, with top notch acting

–          Intense action events

–          Stellar combat

–          Good multiplayer addition

–          Beautiful visuals

Cons

–          Cover is still clunky

–          Some characters fall flat

–          The puzzles are pathetic

9/10

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: