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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - hands-on

During this escort mission, our movement was curtailed. We couldn’t drop Jeff, and could only use a pistol, making us slower and less deadly. This part of the level took Drake and his team into the rain-soaked alleys of the city that had previously been cast in sunlight. Despite slowing the pace down, Naughty Dog has managed to make this escort gameplay exciting by constantly keeping you on your toes. You’re led down dark narrow alleys and streets, but just when things get comfy, a truck with a gun nest will pull up and force the action into a new route - through a bombed out building or up a stairwell, where a Lazarevic gunman might burst through a door and attack the party, forcing them into another bewildering route. You’re always kept thinking and anticipating the next assault.

This was more evident in a recent play of the three-player co-op mode. Here we were back in the city streets post-rainfall and searching for clues. Though the level’s route is very linear, you never know when or how the enemies will attack. Lazarevic’s men like clambering up and over obstacles, so gunmen come at you from all angles and directions, leaping off buildings, over walls and from behind burnt out cars.

The controls are the same as in the original Uncharted, so there’s no learning curve to be had as such except in terms of getting used to the new AI. There are some surprising tricks the game plays on you - during a melee brawl some enemies can block Drake’s punches and catch his fist - tapping Triangle will overpower the counter. The animation of the melee fights is impressive too, as each character has a different take down move - you can punch an enemy in the nads, then slide under him or leap onto a gunman’s back and wrestle him like a monkey.

The hands-on also illustrated the sequel’s new action bent with different types of enemies appearing for the first time, including mid-level mini-bosses that look like rejects from Army of Two. They take more hits to kill and teamwork is needed to ensure you’re not distracted from the boss by his minions.

This is a beautiful looking game, but the visual impact is being used to spur on the gameplay. The same way the escort mission kept turning and diverting is how the whole game plays out. Though there’s linearity to the game, what happens in each section always changes. Cover can be destroyed, ensuring you need to think on your feet. One section in which Drake and Chloe were trapped in a hotel dining room and under fire from a helicopter gunship and soldiers was telling. On the first playthrough the wooden tables, chairs and sofas were destroyed. But on the second, a table shot across the room, taking out a few of the enemies.

There are some doubts about the darker tone. Why do all sequels try and pull an Empire Strikes Back? Still, it plays well, packs in the punches and Elena’s back in the game. What more could you ask for?

Jul 23, 2009

21 comments

  • montyburns - October 9, 2009 7:03 p.m.

    @wrapdump I smell an upset xbox fanboy around. Seriously dude, I really doubt you even played the first uncharted. Go and play your Halo 3 ODST.
  • CoD_22 - July 28, 2009 11:57 p.m.

    @loonyman978, yeah pretty sure he's in 1 of the screenshots in the article. @norid, did you really ever doubt a 3rd game? omg i dont want uncharted 2 anymore, i wanna skip ahead to 2011 for uncharted 3! @uncharted in general, i hope they have some dlc for this game, like a couple of extra chapters or co-op minigames and maybe some more multiplayer maps or game modes, having just deathmatch and plunder wont last long. @crumbdunky, the recaptcha says it all: gory times. lol!
  • gprime17 - July 26, 2009 6:12 p.m.

    I hope they fix the gunplay. Kill enimies seemed too un-natural.
  • norid - July 26, 2009 2:18 p.m.

    @ mertor3190 soicety today is in dark times nodody wants to play a light hearted sequal (except me) they want the hero to go through pain so they can connect. that or there gonna set it up fo a 3rd game
  • mertor3190 - July 26, 2009 8:17 a.m.

    Its true. a lot of sequels these days have been trying to pull of the dark tone look. Why?
  • Defguru7777 - July 24, 2009 9:50 p.m.

    I'm with crumbdunky. You guys didn't seem even remotely worried about Mass Effect 2 pulling an Empire Strikes Back. BIAS!!!! Just kidding. I don't even have a PS3 (but this kind of makes me want one.
  • Ninjamatt5 - July 24, 2009 12:39 p.m.

    Really REALLY looking forward to this. REALLY. Seventh! Or eighth!
  • loonyman978 - July 23, 2009 10:36 p.m.

    please tell me Sully's back, the mans a legend. He was saved but a migit book for goodness sake!
  • Jordo141 - July 23, 2009 8:58 p.m.

    God. I need this. NOW.
  • may.be.vital - July 27, 2009 5:11 p.m.

    AHA so after reading norids post I have reasoned that I didn't read norids post before putting my own and I am an idiot :)
  • may.be.vital - July 27, 2009 5:10 p.m.

    That is a good question: Why do sequels pull an Empire Strikes Back? We should do some research!!!
  • wrapdump - July 27, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    If this is as good as the first one...it'll still be mediocre. The first was some nice graphics and some average over-the-shoulder gameplay. Also the characters faces -especially their eyes- in the first game's cutscenes were freaky as hell
  • wkdtkd - July 25, 2009 11:44 a.m.

    Curse you GR!! Seeing Elena in the actual game wud have been a brilliant WTF!??! moment...you just had to spoil it... :P
  • MW3M - July 24, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    I lost interest the moment you said Escort Mission tbph..
  • EmmaXII - July 24, 2009 8:38 p.m.

    I agree
  • Conman93 - July 24, 2009 5:05 p.m.

    those graphics are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • crumbdunky - July 24, 2009 3:30 p.m.

    Why the doubts about the darker tone GR? I'm sure there's be hell to pay if they left everything the same wouldn't there? I thought progression and innovation were meant to be filed under "stuff we like" and repetitive game looks and gameplay meant to be hated in a sequels(see reaction to SMG2 for relevant GR position)? Do NOT pee on ND's chips over this one or we might fall out, K? BTW, doesn't anyone else start to get the feeling that we've been shown almost too much of this game already? I'm gonna have to start avoiding articles and esp vids from now on or there won't be much left to find out! Seems, recently, that Uni are trying the same over exposure with SCC and I don't want either of these great looking games to fail just because they feel stale after seeing so much pre release footage.
  • smallberry - July 24, 2009 4:33 a.m.

    One thing bugged me about the original. It looked fantastic but the cutscenes always looked slightly creepy. Its better in stills than it is during the actual cutscene. @Tochy: I was thinking Gerard Butler
  • Tochy - July 24, 2009 3:27 a.m.

    lol on the last pic,drake looks like micheal showalter ahahahaha ReCaptcha: strong buns
  • norid - July 23, 2009 9:09 p.m.

    * drooling uncontrollably * oh my goodnees i'm in love

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