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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves review

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AT A GLANCE
  • Voice acting and scripting are of an award winning standard
  • The action just keeps on coming
  • Attention to detail
  • Some jump and grab sections can be a bit tricky
  • There are enemy types that are a pain in the ass
  • It has to end :(

Since we briefly played Uncharted 2 at Gamescom in Cologne recently and were part of the multiplayer Beta, we expected it to be pretty good, but shittin’ crikey, not this good.

Sony has searched long and hard for their killer-app - a sole reason to part with your cash - but have come up short. Killzone 2 had good-looks but offered very little in terms of originality. LittleBigPlanet was mega-fun but too niche for many. Ratchet & Clank is great but too juvenile to win over the hardcore masses. Uncharted 2 now fills this void - and then some.

So good are Nathan Drake’s new adventures, that unless Lara Croft goes fully nude for the entirety of her next game, then she won’t even get a look in over this.

Here’s the obligatory gist of the action: It’s a couple of years after the events of original game (which is surprisingly, very rarely spoken of). Drake and Elena have parted ways for reasons unknown and a British bloke, named Flynn, ropes Nathan and Kiwi crumpet Chloe, into stealing an antique oil lamp from a Turkish museum.

Above: The Turkish museum heist in action

From here, Drake ends up on the trail of terrorist Zoran Lazarevic and the secrets of Marco Polo’s doomed expedition to find Shangri La and the mythical Cintamani Stone. Cue blood-shed, incredible scenes of exploration and of course, tricky puzzles.

But what makes Uncharted 2 so damn near perfect? Right off the bat, we’ll say the script and voice acting simply can’t be touched. And we’re not talking just games here. Most movies and TV scribes struggle to keep up with the quality here. That’s why it gets this...

You might not give a toss about the chemistry between the characters right now (don’t worry we’ll get to the guns and killing soon) but it's hard not to fall for it when you play the game.

The lines are tight and delivered so convincingly you get the sense that the voice actors are really enjoying themselves. It pulls you in and, honest to Jeebus, there are moments when we actually <shiver> ‘LOL’d’. Not to mention pause the game and fist-punch the air as we stumble across another impressive environment to swing, climb and blast our way through...

 

For all you graphic whores out there (you know who you are, Mr/Mrs High Definition) Uncharted 2 delivers quality visuals by the treasure trove full. From the unbelievably beautiful toucans perched in the jungle trees to the animation of Drake shielding his face with his hand when he gets too close to a roaring fire, it looks stunning.

The scale of just about everything in Uncharted 2 is admirable. Take the opening level for example. As has become fashionable, this is where developers slip in a tutorial - push button to open door and the like. Uncharted 2 teaches you the ropes as you climb a train carriage dangling off a god damn cliff. You can see for miles to as the stunning mountainous landscape spreads out across the screen. No pop-up, just awesome detail.


Above: A real purdy shot from the Borneo jungle level.

It’s comparable with God of War, Sony’s other powerhouse, in terms of opening up with a bang and continuous epic scale. And boy, it works a treat. Just like Kratos, Nathan Drake isn’t afraid to dish out some large portions of death cake either.

The punch of the weapons from the original game is even more satisfying in Uncharted 2. Among the handguns, shotguns and automatic weapons you also get to wield a tranquilizer gun, a pistol that fires shotgun shells and - we couldn’t believe this either - a minigun. Yes, just like Arnie’s in T2.

 
Above: Nathan wishes he'd worn a warmer jumper.

There’s more than enough fodder for you to mow down with these weapons but Drake has also learned some more unarmed skills to bring the pain. You can now perform takedowns that drag enemies behind cover, so you don’t get shot up. You can drag them off platforms or maybe even run up a box and plant boot under their chin. But Uncharted 2 is much more than mindless blood-shed.

One of our single greatest moments is far more sedate.

***SPOILER ALERT***

There's a bit in a Tibetan village where you first meet Tenzin - a non-English speaking Sherpa guide - and as you trudge through the tranquil village you pass a group of kids and two of the little 'uns proceed to hide behind a wall. If you walk up to them and hit Triangle, Drake puts his hands up to his head like moose antlers and goes 'Uggga Buggga Buggga' as they laugh at him. Lovely stuff.

There’s no button prompt to tell you to do this. And you could easily finish the game and never know about it (unless you just read about it now) but Uncharted 2 is full of subtle, incidental wonderment to enhance your overall experience.

Now this will sound wanky - and I’ve previously discussed this with a colleague who agrees - but Uncharted 2 *really* blurs the line between games and films. The rollercoaster actions will make you laugh, scare the crap out of you and make you sad. And this is more than you can say for most big budget movies.

Back to the gameplay then, take a look at some of the new stuff you’ll find in Uncharted 2...

360 rope swinging mechanics - You can now use Drake’s momentum to swing in any direction from a rope dangling from a ceiling. This is handy for grabbing hidden treasures.

Fluid climbing - You scale walls far more easily than in Drake’s Fortune. If a ledge is close enough to reach simply steer him across the surface and he’ll reach out and grab it.

Snow effects - Best. Snow. Ever. Even better than Lost Planet.

Create cover - Not only can you hide behind riot shields from time to time, but Drake is adept at turning over tables to create cover too. Handy when surrounded by goons.

Red-dot sight - Like in Modern Warfare, Uncharted 2 has an assault rifle - the FAL - that has a red dot sight to make headshots easier.

Monkey bars - Like an overhead ladder that you’d see on a kid's playground.

Twitter integration - Automatically let your friend’s know how far you are and how much you’ve earned in 140 characters or less.

Armoured goons - These juggernauts come in two varieties: shotgun wielding or minigun blasting. You're going to have to think on your feet when taking these boys one.

Notebook - Hit Select and Drake will delve into his notebook like in the original, but with a twist. Move left and right with the stick and not only will you see clues to puzzles, but an array of in-jokes, photos and even sketches of Sully's powerful moustache.

Plus lots, lots more. And the set-pieces? Just wow! We’d be giving away massive spoilers if we mentioned them but around every corner is a standout moment that you’ll be mightily impressed by. Here’s one to whet your appetite...


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So finally, Sony get its long-awaited killer-app. And what a beauty it is. Uncharted 2 not only sets benchmarks for visuals (the lighting effects alone are stunning), story and sheer fun, but it also sets a worryingly high target for all that follow it to match. Simply put, Uncharted 2 is a reason to own a PS3.




Tomb Raider Underworld
 

Oh yes. Miss Croft has had her time in the sun and it’s time to get back to the drawing-board we think. Drake sprung from nowhere and beat Lara at her own game. It looks better. It plays better. And you just find yourself rooting for Nathan more than you ever did with the Tomb Raider’s heroine.




Batman Arkham Asylum 

Yes, just. And before you Batman fans get your knickers in a twist, let us explain. AA's combat system is fantastic and the world they've created around the Dark Knight is well realised, but it is relentlessly dark and bleak. The variety of environments and the aformentioned story-telling in Uncharted 2 snatches the victory.



Gears of War 2 

Yes. The games are almost poles apart. Gears is all about shooting and taking down massive bosses, Uncharted 2 isn’t. But in terms of scale and the satisfaction of gunning people down they are in the same ballpark, and Drake takes the win here.

Just for you Metacritic

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. It looks amazing, plays like a dream and the voice-acting/story-telling will hook you in right from the off. PS3 officially has its killer-app and a million tears are shed by 360 fanboys.

More Info

Release date: Oct 13 2009 - PS3 (US)
Oct 16 2009 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Adventure
Published by: SCEA
Developed by: Naughty Dog
Franchise: Uncharted
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
PEGI Rating:
16+

We Recommend

123 comments

  • MerylsHers12 - February 7, 2014 3:34 a.m.

    The game is great! I would recommend also does play a refreshed version of the PC from the PlayGameHacker .. Link to the manager so that we retrieve the game: http://playgamehacker.com/uncharted-2-among-thieves-pc-version/ Link to Film from the action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7X5srYaKcw
  • Darkhawk - January 10, 2012 7:10 a.m.

    Nearing completion, my two complaints: 1) No puzzles. Are there any in this game? There are definitely environmental puzzles - Get from Point A to Point B - but almost nothing in the way of turn this dial, match these symbols, etc. 2) The story and dialogue are SO cliche. Heck, it's still better than the last Indiana Jones, but video games need to come a long way still if this is the pinnacle of story-telling. Yes, it repackages every action-adventure cliche out there, but it's laughable how unoriginal the whole is.
  • majamaki - November 15, 2011 6:16 p.m.

    Finally finished Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception and I wrote up my thoughts on the entire series. The Uncharted series is easily one of the best action and adventure games made to date. The developers at Naughty Dog continue impress gamers and the industry with their vision for the perfect form of cinematic interactive entertainment. Their latest release, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception raises the bar to new heights for gamers to enjoy, appreciate, and drool over. Read more @ http://majamaki.com/2011/11/drakes-uncharted-adventures/
  • redalert3 - August 12, 2010 7:47 p.m.

    is the multiplayer only online? i need to know, i don't have internet connection and the multiplayer looks cool
  • BIOSback - March 1, 2010 11:41 a.m.

    Amazing game/movie just beat it.
  • Mirako - January 9, 2010 4:56 a.m.

    Games Like this make me cry... for not having a Ps3 :(
  • mattdark - October 21, 2009 6:29 a.m.

    Just got this monday (Thankyou play for your excellently slow console delivery times) Havent gone that far into it yet, but Im loving what I have played so far, definately a major step up from the original.
  • sklorbit - October 21, 2009 4:22 a.m.

    great game, best of the year so far. actually one of the best this decade. best graphic, great gameplay and amazing voiceacting and cutscenes. also the multiplayer is great, this game is the full package! campaign is the best i have played since half life 2
  • BigBertrum - October 19, 2009 11:35 p.m.

    umm just attacking the part where you talked about the kids behind the wall in the scene in the tibetan village if you hit triangle near anybody in that scene you will say "hi" and shake their hand and ask if anybody speaks english and you can kick a ball to children and pet yaks and ask for phones if you press near people, yaks or certain objects
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - October 18, 2009 9:19 p.m.

    @manmeatpizza - That was teh point, well done for getting the punchline
  • mikkdc - October 18, 2009 1:55 a.m.

    The first game was ground breaking. This.... this is MORE. Without a doubt, game of the year so far.
  • AaronTheGamingGeek - October 17, 2009 1:55 a.m.

    Suck it 360
  • boxmeizter - October 16, 2009 4:59 p.m.

    No other game has giving me this odd lovable feeling after completing it... When you play it for the first time - enjoy it the best you can because it has to end! The story is compelling, the characters is so true and the graphic is jaw dropping. It is a must-buy, even for 360-owners!
  • GamesRadar_NathanIrvine - October 16, 2009 10:43 a.m.

    @dalua360 Hello there. In terms of comparisons for the Better Than... bit I obviously needed to find similar games from any platform to go up against Uncharted 2. I didn't take this decision lightly and polled opinions from the members of GamesRadar and other magazine based colleagues and GOW2 was the closest. Like a proper journalist would do. As for the quip about 360 fanboys, it was meant as a tongue-in-cheek statement and nothing more. Cheers, Nathan 'PS3-blinded-fanboy' Irvine
  • wrapdump - October 15, 2009 11:09 a.m.

    Visuals were always going to be good, but unless this game ships with it's own controller (unlikely) then the controls, especially the shooting, ar going to suffer from how light and vague the PS3 sticks are. I'm going to get the first one when I can find it for about £3. I'll gladly pay a tenner for this, so that's progress.
  • 1BASE - October 14, 2009 1:53 p.m.

    Read lots of reviews for this ..non of them bad....gotta get it
  • PS360Rulez - October 14, 2009 12:46 a.m.

    So Ive been playing the game for a few hours now and I havent been able to think of the words to describe it and then they came to me: Fucking Awesome The voice acting and characters are top notch for a big bugit film let alone a video game. The graphics are amazing and the attention to detail is much appreciated. As for the fighting and controls it plays smoother than gears ever dreamed of doing. Game deserved an 11 out of 10.
  • nadrewod999 - October 13, 2009 11:28 p.m.

    Still definitely getting MW2 and AC2, so I am on the borderline between this and Brutal Legend because I have to be light on spending now for Prestige Edition later, although GR has already pointed me towards this game (Read the freaking review scores: 9 is great, but 10 is FREAKING PERFECT). Also, I would LOVE to play through one time as normal Drake, then go through as Doughnut Drake, and just laugh at how differently the other characters react (I wonder if the enemies will do less damage to Skeleton Drake, since there are less places to hit him?).
  • patri0t - October 13, 2009 11:13 p.m.

    YES!!!!
  • PhantomExecutor5 - October 13, 2009 8:04 p.m.

    just got the game, it is so BEAST!!!!

Showing 1-20 of 123 comments

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