After months of waiting the day finally arrived when Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was released! The sequel to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune takes places across beautifully designed landscapes and is, by far, the best looking game on the PS3 to date.
Set not long after the first instalment, the game kicks off in dramatic fashion with Drake waking up and finding that he’s covered in his own blood with no explanation as to how it happened. Not a good start for our leading man. What follows is a crash course in the climbing aspects of the game, similar to the first instalment, only this time, instead of easing you into the controls, you are straight away thrust into a situation whereby you have to think fast and climb off and out of a train wreck in order to survive.
For at least the first half hour of gameplay my heart was almost beating out of my chest as I tried to get Drake to safety. This section is only interrupted by the occasional cut scene to introduce you to some of the new characters as the game flashes back and forth setting the scene at a perfect pace.
The main quest this time around is quickly explained and before long you move on to a section where you are introduced to the different ways of taking down your enemies with a simple tap of the square button, and throughout the level you see pretty much every way and scenario of using it. From hanging below an enemy and pulling him off a ledge to sneaking up on them and throttling them from behind, it’s all there and you get to grips with it pretty quickly.
Towards the end of this chapter, the first major twist in the game happens and from then on in the rollercoaster ride only gets better.
As with the first game, the voice acting and lip syncing are all spot on and some of the detail that’s gone into the level designs is truly breathtaking. As you climb from A to B the camera angles adjust in a vertigo inducing way at times and this really adds to the realism of the experience. It’s not always obvious where you need to climb, however, and you may find yourself hurtling to your death a few times as you try and figure out where you need to go. But all is not lost because the save points are about every 10 feet and the load times, in all honesty, are practically nonexistent.
One slight problem I have noticed this time around is the lack of puzzle solving through the story mode. Now, anyone who’s seen one of the many interviews online with Naughty Dog staff will know that they deliberately lowered the amount in the game, but with 10 hours of gameplay to be had in the single player mode, I’d have liked a few more.
The puzzles themselves follow the same principal as the first game. You have a diary you can bring up by pressing the select button and within its pages are the answers for how to solve them. There are about five puzzles in the game and they are nice breaks from the constant climb, climb, shoot, shoot style of action which could get tedious for some gamers.
It’s also a shame that Sully isn’t in the game too often this time around, but take a look through the diary at any point in the game and you might find the odd Sully related ‘Easter egg’ in there along with a few ‘tips of the hat’ to the first game. Speaking of the first game, if you have a completed game file from it when you’re playing Uncharted 2 then you’re in for a treat when you visit the pause menu!
All told, the single player campaign is an incredible experience and well worth the price tag in itself, with all the action set pieces and the twists in the story and not forgetting the well paced and perfectly timed comedy moments throughout, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a big success and Naughty Dog has really outdone themselves overall here.
There are plenty of extras and bonuses which all add to the re-playability and then there is a certain multiplayer aspect to consider as well. Admittedly, this was a concern of mine when it was first announced. I was worried firstly if multiplayer would work and secondly if it was really needed. I say this on the premises that the first game was perfect as it was and didn’t need adding to. However, since I downloaded the beta version I realised just how wrong I was. Not only does multiplayer work very well, but it’s also great fun and there are plenty of different modes to keep you busy.
Each kind of competitive game play sees you split into two teams, Heroes and Villains, with game rules varying only by name from the usual types, such as team death match, domination and capture the flag. Once connected to a match you all get to vote between two different maps and sometimes each map will have limitations on weapons set, so it’s important to choose wisely when voting and within just a handful of games you’ll have figured out which are you favourites to play.
The maps themselves are taken straight from the single player story and just adapted slightly to suit the style of play; weapons are laid out randomly with the more powerful weapons in the harder to reach spots…generally.
Usually, I’m dead against playing anything online with the PS3, generally because the community is nowhere near as good compared to Xbox Live (let the flame ware begin!). However, with this I make an exception as it really is a well designed and enjoyable experience. The best part about it is the medal scheme and levelling up your character.
In order to purchase more boosters (perks) for your character you will need to collect as many medals as you can to earn game money. The cash you earn can then be spent on these boosters as and when you unlock them, and you can even buy weapon upgrades for the co-op modes as well.
Co-op itself is a brilliant addition to the game and adds yet more to the longevity of this title; up to three players can take control of randomly assigned heroes (Drake, of course, being one of them) and play through a modified chapter of the story mode, taking down hordes of enemies as you go. Even on easy mode it gets pretty tough and good teamwork, along with headsets, is what you’ll need in order to get through it with a high score. ou get points for each kill you make as well as earning medals along the way and these scores are displayed at the end for bragging rights more than anything.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is an incredible game, definitely one to buy and not just rent. If you’re like me, you’ll be hooked on the story and the multiplayer for a long time coming and its only downside is the lack of puzzles to break up the ‘climb, climb, shoot, shoot’ routine in the single player mode. But this isn’t enough to warrant it being anything less than a five star game.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is out now.