Since I completed Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, I’ve been dying to get my hands on the sequel which was finally released at the end of 2009. It took me a while to get my hands on a copy, but thanks to Santa, I’ve now had my Uncharted 2: Among Thieves fix and am eagerly awaiting the 3rd instalment of Drakes’ adventures.
Uncharted 2 has been something else that everyone has been raving about and calling it the best game of the year and giving it high marks and I can see why. It really is like being involved in a blockbuster film at times and it’s great to watch. But you have to remember that you’re still playing a game otherwise you’ll end up getting Drake killed for the umpteenth time.
The story is set not too long after the events of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Sully’s gone into retirement and Elena has become a professional broadcaster. But of course Drake is still on his adventures and it’s not long before he gets enticed into another one. This time around, Drake is after something called the Cintamani Stone and was allegedly found by Marco Polo the world-renowned explorer in Shambhala (or Shangri-La).
Like the first Uncharted, a bad guy is after the treasure for the wrong reasons and it’s up to Drake to stop the bad guys and save the world.
There’s a couple of new characters which do help with the story. One of which is an old friend of Drake’s called Harry Flynn and another is a woman called Chloe Frazer. It’s nice to see an appearance from Sully who was in the original but only really appears near the beginning, and Elena Fisher who comes into the story around halfway through the game. I could keep going on about the storyline because I loved it and really sunk my teeth into it, but I don’t want to end up letting things slip and giving away certain plots of the game. So, moving on.
As with the first Uncharted, the graphics are immense and really do seem to push the power of the PlayStation 3, although Naughty Dog has recently said that they can push it further still for their next title. If that’s the case God only knows how amazing Uncharted 3 (or hopefully a next-gen Jak and Daxter) will look. The animations are second to none and really help the flow of the game. When you’re running and shooting at the same time, and have to then dive behind cover, then reach over a wall and pull your enemy over the top to snap his neck (I’m not even exaggerating), it all runs incredibly smoothly. All the cinematics are done by motion capture and so a lot of credit has to go to the actors of the game who bring their characters to live and make them believable. I do sometimes think people don’t give the mo-cap actors the credit that they’re due a lot of the time.
Naughty Dog has really pushed the boat out with the dynamics and textures of the surrounding environment. The water again looks like video footage, and the scenes in the snow look incredible. Like with the water, if you fall in it, you see Drake wet, so if you fall in the snow, then you’ll be covered in snow for some time until it melts off. There were a few times that I’d just walk about in the snow and look at how nice everything looks (which can be a bad idea when people are shooting at you). All the environments are rich with life and everything comes alive. You can be standing thousands of feet up on a cliff and look down and still see the water flowing by in the river below. You really do have to see it, to realise how much detail has gone into this game.
The gameplay is pretty much the same as the first Uncharted but with a few extra features thrown in to give it something different. The way in which you can hide behind objects and then grab a guard from over the top and either knock him out or break his neck is brilliant. It adds a bit to the suspense as well, because if you have a courtyard full of guys with guns and want to take them out quietly, you really do have to be sneaky about it otherwise you’ll have guys with guns coming from every direction.
Now I know some people don’t like the behind the shoulder camera for shooting games, but I loved it. It didn’t feel awkward or fidgety, and I jumped straight into it. I know it would have been easy for me to get used to the controls straight away as I played the first Uncharted to death, so I’m a bit of a dab hand at pulling off headshots. But if you’re used to shooters on consoles then you shouldn’t really have any problems adapting to the controls and you start off with a smooth ride into the controls anyway.
The AI on the enemies is as good as I remember it from the first game as they’ll hide when you start shooting at them, and if you destroy a box they’ve been hiding behind, they’ll find something else to cower behind until you kill them. The only slight downside would be how many bullets it can sometimes take to kill your enemies off unless you get them with a headshot, for example, the guys with the mini-guns have so much armour on them it takes an age to bring them to a halt. But on the plus side, it makes the game that little bit harder to progress. Hand to hand combat is really easy to get used to and helps after you’re aiming from the hip and come across a stunned guard. A few punches and he’s down and you can vault straight over a wall, roll behind a box and start shooting in one fluid movement………….sorry, got carried away then. You can really do some great combo moves in the game which add some real excitement to the fights.
I wasn’t overly amazed by the Uncharted 2 online multiplayer mode. It’s good fun but lacks the va-va-voom of online games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Obviously, they’re different types of shooter games so will have a different experience. There are quite a few different games online, but I’ve been giving deathmatch a good going over. You’re in teams of 5 with up to 10 players online in one game. It is just like playing the main game, but your enemies are more sneaky and harder to kill.
The teams are split up very evenly though in terms of what level your stats are at etc. But it there’s been times when you’ve got someone new to the online game (on level 1) and yet they’re killing everything in sight. Although I say I wasn’t blown away by the online mode, it is still great fun and adds more longevity to the game, which is fine by me as an excuse to keep playing Uncharted sounds good to me.
Another good online mode is the co-op. You can go online with 2 other players and do certain missions from the game with a little bit of a change. You’ll have to help each other through the level as you’ll need at least 2 of you to overcome certain obstacles throughout. You can revive your allies, but should they fail to do so, you’ll have to wait a whole minute before you respawn. If all 3 of you die then you go back to the last checkpoint, and you only get 3 attempts to complete the mission.
The other online modes which include:
- Elimination — Kill the other team to win
- Plunder — First team to capture and return all treasure wins
- Turf War — Similar to domination on COD. Capture and hold three targets. First to reach score wins.
- King of the Hill — Capture a moving position. First to reach score wins.
- Chain Reaction — Capture a position. When one is captured, another appears in a different location. First to five wins.
- Survival — Kill enemies with up to 2 other players
- Gold Rush — Find treasure and get it back to chest
- Machinima — You can create your own computer animation using game footage.
There’s enough to keep you going for ages, but I found myself playing the modes I’ve mentioned above the most.
This is one of the best games I have ever played. Like all new PlayStation 3 games and the original Uncharted: Drakes’s Fortune, you have trophies to collect throughout the game which some people spend hours trying to earn. The storyline is brilliant and never gets dull, keeping you on the edge of your seat right to the end. Some great humour throughout and some awesome action shots lead me to think that if done right, an Uncharted film would be brilliant. This really was like playing a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Of course, there’ll be some that disagree with that, but if you do, let us know by leaving comments below.
If you own a PlayStation 3, you have to own this game! If you don’t have a PS3, go buy one and get this game! You have to own Uncharted 2: Among Thieves!!!
5 out of 5
Danny ‘Ender’ Martin has been part of the Zath team from pretty much the very beginning since he met Zath himself at Leeds Met University whilst studying Business IT. He’s an avid gamer and a big film buff. Danny graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in Computer Animation and SFX and now currently works at one of the biggest UK games developers, which will hopefully see some of his ideas hit the gaming world.