Who is Naughty Dog trying to kid? Back in 2007 they released the original Uncharted and pitched protagonist Nathan Drake as an ordinary, everyday, average type of guy. But don’t be fooled, if every guy was like Nathan Drake, we’d all be blowing up helicopters while aboard speeding trains, collapsing ancient monuments with a pull of the trigger, or taking out mercenaries with a beautiful woman (or two) by our side. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is finally here and Naughty Dog has put Drake in his most exciting adventure yet, with the end result being a game that will not only be the crowning achievement of the PS3, but also for action adventure games of this console generation.
Uncharted 2 picks up with Drake in a bad way. He’s beaten, bloodied, and regains his consciousness inside a train that’s about to fall off a cliff thousands of feet high. He has little time to think as he can hear the moans and screams of the machinery about to break loose. Climbing out of the train with the utmost caution, he cheats death from falling boulders and pipes that break away as he moves around. It is at this moment, within the first five minutes of the game, one realizes just how special Uncharted 2 is. Among Thieves is the quintessential example of how to perfect production values in a game. The graphics are amazing, the sound is impeccable, and the cut-scenes and voice acting is so top notch that it is near impossible to not become emotionally attached to the on-screen protagonists.
Aside from the aesthetics, Naughty Dog delivers on one of the most epic adventures that has ever appeared in a videogame. The player is tasked with stopping Zoran Lazarevic, a Siberian war criminal who will stop at nothing to obtain the Cintamani stone – a stone that’s rumored to grant its finder with extraordinary powers. Throughout the journey, one will visit the jungles of Borneo, the alleyways of Nepal, and trek all the way to the snow-capped mountains of Tibet. But they won’t do it alone. Rarely will one find themselves going solo in Uncharted 2. Whether it's infiltrating museums with A heist buddy, Flynn; mending a relationship gone sour with Elena; or getting a bit intimate with new and provocative character, Chloe (quite possibly the hottest videogame vixen ever to be pixilated); Drake almost always has someone by his side.
Gameplay-wise, having NPC’s by one's side is rarely a recipe for success. Often a lesson in aggravation and quick deaths, developers have been getting the partner act wrong for years. Once again, Uncharted 2 succeeds where others have failed. Not once in multiple play throughs will one find that Drake's partners get in the way or cause him to die. While their well-aimed shots more often acted as stun mechanisms than fatal blows, one learns to appreciate their assistance, as partner cover fire is crucial in helping the player regain health while behind cover, especially on the more brutal difficulty levels.
Gunplay in Uncharted 2 is fast and furious. New weapons include a pistol that fires shotgun rounds, a devastating grenade launcher, and a crossbow that’s much more powerful than it looks. However, despite these new tools of destruction, it's more fun taking down enemies with stealth. In the majority of encounters, one will come across a group of mercenaries who know Drake is coming but don’t know when. In the first game, stealth was rarely implemented and if one did take an enemy down silently, it was likely planned. Among Thieves does away with scripted stealth and allows the player to decide how to dispose of enemies standing in their way, and nothing is more satisfying then when one clears eight patrolling guards without ever making a sound.
If the astounding single player crusade isn’t enough, Uncharted 2 comes packed with multiplayer action… and it’s great. Standard deathmatch, CTF (known as Plunder), and territory games exist here, as well as entertaining co-op options as well. Players can team up with two others in Uncharted’s version of “Horde” mode from Gears of War, as well as partake in more objective co-op endeavors as well.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is pure entertainment. Technically it’s a superb achievement. A multitude of production aspects are brought together seamlessly in one impressive package. The gameplay and scenarios are impressive, and it’s been a long time since one game delivered so many water cooler moments. But, aside from all of its other achievements, Uncharted 2 creates an extremely enduring tale that connects with the viewer so well, one has no choice but to be invested emotionally; Suck on that Roger Ebert. When it comes down to it, I’m probably nothing like Nathan Drake, but Uncharted 2 is so much fun, I’ll have no problem living vicariously through him for months to come.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, and Violence.