The first Uncharted was one of those games that you recommended to someone if they already had a Playstation 3. It was a good game, but wasn’t a console-seller. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune had some nice features, with solid gameplay, quality voice acting and a summer action-flick story. But it also came with a limited arsenal, a small handful of enemies and a fairly weak ending. Drake’s Fortune is a game remembered best as a popcorn flick that could have been a memorable blockbuster. Enter Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. With plenty of new guns, a globe-spanning story and improved enemies! Seriously though, the improvements made in this sequel are impossible to list with bullet points, and the game is action-packed from beginning to end.
The basics of combat are largely the same as the original, with a relatively generic-yet-effective control scheme, though they did add some of their own flavor, including some stealth mechanics and well-designed encounters. This helps keep the game feeling fresh, and a wider variety of enemies allows for a great deal of gameplay diversity. The melee system also got a new coat of paint, which can lead to some really fun button-timing knockouts. While Nate may seem more like a homicidal maniac than an everyman action hero as the body count rises, his ad-lib remarks and sarcastic responses to whoever’s unlucky enough to be his partner at the time gives Uncharted 2 a personality not felt in any other game.
While the actual gameplay is better this time around, the plot is really what drives this game. The opening section serves as a playable tutorial, a hook to yank you right into the narrative, and it’s also one of the most exciting portions of the game as a whole. Nathan’s initial quest to find Marco Polo’s lost fleet of ships unfolds into an epic adventure complete with a love triangle, a perfect villain, and just enough betrayals and backstabs to keep you guessing at the characters’ motivations right up until the end. You’ll come to love Nathan more than Indiana Jones himself as he stumbles through each death-defying situation with nothing but dumb luck, stubbornness and his famous half-tucked t-shirt. As if the excellent single-player campaign wasn’t enough, the developers also managed to include a solid, well-supported online multiplayer mode and co-op missions that capture the run-and-gun feel of the campaign surprisingly well.
Even the graphics of Uncharted 2 manage to put its predecessor to shame. From the rooftops of Nepal to a speeding train to the Himalayas, every set piece is beautifully rendered. The greatest part of the game may be the camera itself, panning out at exactly the right moments to give you a feeling of awe, but never hindering gameplay in the slightest. Your greatest threat is getting distracted by the scenery as a gunfight breaks out and with each chapter leading seamlessly into the next with no loading screens, it’ll be hard to find a point to put the controller down.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is, without a doubt, the kind of game you can buy a Playstation 3 for. The graphics showcase the power of the system, and the game features a strong multiplayer mode that Playstation Network desperately needs. The game also features one of the few characters that you can point to when someone says that there aren’t believable, relatable video game characters. It ups the ante on its predecessor is every conceivable way, and will go down as one of the must-have titles for anyone who ever picks up a PS3. Sony may have finally found its Master Chief in Nathan Drake.