PNG Review: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Hang On Drake! Publisher: Sony

Developer: Naughty Dog

MSRP: 59.99

Grade: A+ (Plus)

Its been 2 full days since Uncharted 2 came out and I decided to go on the grind to get this review out for you.  Playing both nights till I fell asleep with the controller in my hand I went through a lot to get you this review in a timely fashion, and I accomplished that.  This isn’t normally the case for our site but when a game is this good, and you just feel that need to keep going, its worth it in the end.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, is being hailed as the best game on PS3, a game that feels more like a blockbuster movie,  a great contender Game of the Year,  and overall acclaim for accomplishing such a feat in 2 years.  It is all this and a bag of chips.  This game is beyond good, and you owe it to yourself to play it.  Without further ado, let’s get to reviewing…

Story
Uncharted 2 WinterUncharted 2 has nothing to do with the first game except for a few characters that make a return.  This is a brand new story line, as the original didn’t leave you hanging.  Considering almost all games nowadays leave you on a Sylvester Stallone “Cliffhanger”… Uncharted broke that rule, and I think it paid off much better for them in the end.

Nathan Drake is approached by a good friend of his and his female counter-part Cloe on behalf of a client by the name of Lazarvich.  The story follows Marco Polo and his discovery of Shangri-La or also known as Shambhala.   He came across a great fabled Stone known as the Cintamani (Chin-ta-mahn-ey) Stone.  It is said to be a great Sapphire hidden in a depths of Shangri-La and is larger than the reach of a man.  Considering Drake is a modern day Indiana Jones, this sparks his interest and agrees to help the two find it.  This is really all you need to know as saying anymore might ruin the plot.  But lets say there is a lot of double-crossing, some old and new friends appear, and of course the big bad guy your going to end up chasing and fighting at the end.  Throughout the game, the story never fails to keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering where you’ll end up next and what you’ll encounter there.  From start to finish the story is up there with any great action flick you can think of.

SoundUncharted 2 Fight
Everything from the Sound Effects, to the Music in the game is brilliant.  The music is orchestrated, and very soothing but adventurous.  The SFX are top notch quality and really make you feel like your in a fire fight at all times.  The grunts, and moans are all well placed, not like action=sound effect as in most games.  Everything is always varied enough to never make you feel like the sound gets repetitive.  Half the fun of the game is hearing what Drake is going to say next.  The “OH SHIT’s” and bad puns, are always a welcome change to the hectic or passive parts of the game.  He always has something to say and they aren’t the same thing everytime either.  It seems Naughty Dog decided to give him lines as he reached certain points of a fight, or while traversing through the world.  It’s always hilarious when you hear, “If I have to climb another wall…”   The variation just goes to show that with a little love, and drive a team can really make a game stand out, and show its unique qualities.

Uncharted2 CityControls & Gameplay
Little issues here.  They really have the whole “Dude Tomb Raider Thing” down.  Anytime your about to fall off of a ledge, they graciously have Drake turn around and grab the ledge before you fall to your death.  I love the little extras they put in there.  What I really want to point out, and this falls into the same category as the sound variety, is how often his movements change in the game.  What I mean by this is, say there is a small crevice, and you have to get through it.  Drake will change from the straight run-and-gun, to turning sideways and slowly inching his way into the other side.  There are points where you are injured, and his movements react accordingly.  He will hold his sides, not run as fast, limp even.  It’s so immersive, and what impresses me the most is how these are not preset configurations but they are situational.  The game flows so well into these scenarios.

I had a few glitch issues in the game while I played through it.  At one point I am carrying an injured man on my shoulders and your supposed to follow your support who helps clear the way for you since you can’t shoot anything.  I was about to pass through an archway and rocks fell down and blocked my path.  I originally thought that I had to go around but upon further review, I felt something wasn’t right and went to find a way to kill myself to restart the level.  I walk around a corner and the area I was previously in had lost all the scenery.  It was all white with a few bodies floating in midair.  Going over to the white area, I proceeded to fall forever and continue to scream as I sky dove into nothing.  Eventually I hit bottom, or what seemed to be the bottom and died.  I was finally able to get passed the archway which was now completely cleared.  Totally wierd, but it happens right?  Other than that, and the game completely freezing on me at one point, I had no other issues.  I looked at this stuff as more of a funny distraction than as an issue with the game.  As such, it will not be factored into this review, because that would be dumb.

GraphicsUncharted 2 Jungle
Oh my heavens, is this game beautiful!  I honestly was impressed at every point in the game with the outstanding visuals and over-the-top presentation.  I remember feeling terrible as I went through the game.  I felt that I was bypassing all these stunning visuals and locals at such a fast pace, that I was detracting from the hard work and dedication that the developers put into this game.  There are some area’s that are so incredible you want to go and visit the areas you see, but you can’t.  Since it would be so easy to get lost if the game didn’t have a linear path, they have to keep you on that straight line.  You can’t help but feel selfish when a company puts so much effort into the visuals, and you can’t fully appreciate it.  There are upwards of up to 500 objects on a single screen at some points, and when you throw the Havok Physics Engine in, things get crazy.  Everything runs at a smooth frame rate as well, even during some of the crazier sequences.  Overall the game is absolutely stunning, and you can never fully appreciate all they put into the game visual-wise.

Extra’s
I didn’t get much of a chance to play the multiplayer so I can’t say much for that.  I hope to have someone post something about it, or you can get your fix at any one of the fine websites that review games out there.  I’m sure you don’t need to rely on PNG to post your uncompromised impressions on a game, but we appreciate you taking the time to read the site.  Aside from that, I loved the unlockables, once you beat the game once.  You can choose different skins for characters to be used in single player.  Try Doughnut Drake, and you’ll be laughing for quite a while.  It’s totally worth unlocking.  Being able to gain any gun at anytime is nice feature as well.  But considering my love for the game I also purchased all the extra movies for the game, and actually watched them.  Behind the scenes of the game is pretty insightful and enjoyable.  The rewards are cool, and give a little extra to a game that already has it all.

Uncharted 2 TanksConclusion
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a true accomplishment that most developers can only dream of accomplishing, and few can ever achieve.  Naughty Dog has put itself up there with the Elite with this game.  A Lowly developer who started out making the equivalent to Mario for the PS2 has turned face and shown the gaming world what it’s capable of.  The Jak games were always on par with the best platformers around, but I don’t think it ever got the recognition it deserved.  The Uncharted Series has put the PS3 back in the limelight again and it is totally deserved.  Looking at my PS3 for the last 2 months just sitting there not getting played was disheartening, but after I was able to sit down and experience this game first hand, I was once again convinced.  Convinced that while I may not play my system everyday, or even every week, when a game comes around that needs to be played and it can only be done so on the PS3 it’s totally worth owning the system.  This game will instill confidence in your system purchase even though it might not be the longest game, the longevity comes from knowing you can remember the experience for a long time.  You’ll know it when you start to put this game next to every other similar action/adventure game that comes out in the future, and compare them side by side.  Uncharted 2 is tops, and you owe it to yourself to play this game.

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