Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – The PS3 Attitude Review
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves picks up the story of PS3 poster-boy, Nathan ‘Nate’ Drake, roughly two years after the events of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Similar to the previous story, this new adventure revolves around an unsolved historical mystery.
Instead of searching for the gold of El Dorado, this time Nate’s travels take him along the path of Marco Polo’s doomed voyage home from China in 1292. You see, Polo departed with 14 ships and over 600 passengers and crew, but when he arrived at his destination a year and a half later only one ship remained and only 18 of the passengers had survived.
Although Marco Polo described almost every other aspect of his journeys in minute detail he never revealed what happened to the ships that were lost, and it is this fact that drives Drake and his cohorts forward towards the treasure, and the truth.
The first thing you will notice about Uncharted 2 is the much lauded look and feel of the game. The graphics are, without question, the best we’ve seen in any title since Killzone 2 graced the now slimmed-down PS3.
Without getting overly technical and, therefore, switching you off instantly from reading the rest of this review, Naughty Dog are doing things with their version 2.0 game engine that just blow our minds. Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, up to two million triangles per frame through the GPU etc. etc.
But what does all this mean to you, the gamer?
Whatever you’re doing, and wherever you are within the game, everything looks glorious and moves as smooth as silk. Throughout our entire play-through we saw no examples of slow-down, scan lines or frame-rate issues – even when standing at the very highest point looking down on a complex and almost photo-realistic town that stretched for what seemed like miles.
Of course, gaming history is littered with games that look amazing but have little or no gameplay. So how does Uncharted 2 stack up in that respect?
As with the first game in the series, you’ll be working with Drake in a third-person view that allows you to move from cover to cover with a press (or a hold, depending on what you want) or the square button. Moving towards cover feels smooth and natural, as does climbing on to raised brickwork, gates, ladders and anything else that Drake can get his hands on. In fact the control mechanism itself can’t really be faulted and hasn’t really moved on from the first Uncharted title. You know what they say – if it ain’t broke…
Fighting seems like a slicker affair this time around with some neat motion-captured animation as you defeat your enemies, and stealth attacks have been boosted to include some very cool close-quarters moves. In addition to the usual weapons, Drake can even pick up gas canisters and throw them at the enemy, shooting them in mid-air to create a pseudo-grenade.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Uncharted without a few puzzles to solve along the way too. We didn’t find any of these particularly taxing and if you do find you are struggling to work out what should happen next, a hint system will give you pointers in the right direction when the game senses you’re a little lost.
The soundtrack and audio effects are spotless too, as is the voice acting. Not only do you get an epic John Williams-style backdrop to all the action, the team at Naughty Dog have clearly spent a lot of time on ensuring the scene sounds exactly as it should. You can tell a lot of effort went in to voicing the main characters in the game, and the result is a completely believable plot that helps you to believe you’re really a part of the action. You care about the good people in the game, and you fear – rather than laugh at – the bad guys.
The single player campaign will take you between 8 and 12 hours to complete in Normal and Hard modes, and there are the usual array of collectibles throughout. The ‘treasure’ pick-ups from the first Uncharted make a return and unlock some nice bonuses and trophies along the way. Speaking of trophies, there are a large variety of these available and your first play-through will probably net you around 30-40% of them.
But whilst Uncharted 2 is a sublime single-player experience, it has a trump card that ensures we’ll be playing it well into Christmas and beyond – multi-player.
Including both cooperative and competitive multi-player modes, Uncharted 2 has something for everyone. Cooperative modes allow teams to complete missions that have a combination of gunfighting, platforming and puzzle-solving. You’ll also need to take care of your comrades too by healing those that are critically wounded.
Competitive modes include Deathmatch and a ‘capture the flag’ mode called Plunder, along with Elimination (a team deathmatch mode) and another flag capture game called Chain Reaction.
The multi-player modes are many and varied, and there are a large number of bonuses you can unlock from which you can attach two at a time to your character, much like the ‘perks’ system we’re all used to in Call of Duty.
The result is that not only is Uncharted’s multi-player game varied, it has the same ‘level up’ appeal that made CoD so good to keep coming back to and offers much more besides. Because you get all the benefits of Drake’s acrobatic moves, multi-player gaming tends to take place on many more levels than in your average FPS shooter, offering much more variety and verticality to the gameplay.
During the single-player campaign we did notice a couple of glitches in Uncharted 2, one of which saw us stuck inside a statue, but it was just after a checkpoint so it was no great issue starting again from the last autosave point. And our play-through consisted of two complete hardware lock-ups too, but again this didn’t cause an issue as both were just after the game had been saved. So Uncharted 2 isn’t completely perfect, but there is nothing here that can’t be fixed with a patch.
In all, Uncharted 2 will go down in history as one of the PS3’s stand-out titles, ensuring that the platform has its best Christmas ever. If you don’t already own a copy of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, we recommend you get your hands on a copy as soon as possible! You won’t regret it…