NATHAN DRAKE'S LATEST ADVENTURE, IS ONE OF GAMINGS FINEST.
NATHAN DRAKE'S LATEST ADVENTURE, IS ONE OF GAMINGS FINEST.The credits began to roll down the screen, there was I seated with goosebumps and shivers of excitement rattling through my body. Knowing I had just experienced one of the finest adventures to ever grace any form of entertainment. A shining example of not just how far videogames have come, but how they have the ability to reach new levels of immersion only films could dream of. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a very rare case, a rare case indeed. It's doesn't just define the action adventure genre, it defines what gaming as become. It's easily one of the best titles of this generation.
The original Uncharted game was a forgotten gem in the early days of the Playstation 3, developers Naughty Dog created a wonderful but flawed tale, one that clearly had potential. Rich characters, stunning graphics and a fantastic story was let down by a general lack of polish throughout. Still, the groundwork had been put in place and it's intriguing characters clearly had more adventures to come. So came Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, taking a place a year after protagonist Nathan Drake's search for Sir Francis Drake treasure, he awakens bloody and bruised on a train in a snowy and mountainousness environment. So begins a tale worthy of your attention.
Among Thieves takes a unique turn with it's story, Drake is soon offered a chance for excitement and intrigued by an old acquaintance called Harry Flynn. This boisterous Brit wants help in steeling an ancient oil lamp with links to Marco Polo, and with the help of Aussie Chloe Frazer, Drake soon agrees when he realizes there might be more to this oil lamp then meets the eye. It's your classic Indiana Jones like story, but one so well thought out that it stays fresh and unique throughout the games twenty eight chapters.
Nathan Drake soon runs into a familiar face in TV reporter Elena Fisher, and so begins a love triangle of sorts. Romance in videogames is either done so poorly that it's laughable, or so harshly that it comes across obviously fake. Among Thieves finds a nice niche for itself, it never feels to forced and when romance is attempted it feels quite natural. This is partly thanks to superb cut scenes throughout, with a fantastic mix of emotion and humour spliced together to almost perfect effect.
Humour in particular is done well, on many occasions the game made me chuckle or laugh, especially when Drake would interact with those around him. For example, when Drake is pleasantly walking around a beautiful Tibetan village he can interact with it's people and even a few of the animals. One instance saw Nate attempting to find someone who spoke English, and after failing to find anyone, he eventually resorts to asking a nearby Yak. It's often silly humour, but it works well in a videogame environment and will bring a smile to even the gloomiest player.
While a great story is key to a good game, it's nothing without the gameplay mechanics to travel it along and in this department, Uncharted 2 as seen vast improvements. One of the largest complaints aimed towards the original game was it's messy gun play, which suffered from overpowered AI and a true lack of precision. It could often take a full clip of pistol ammo before an enemy would go down, this is no longer the case and the sections of gun on gun action is some of the best. No longer frustrating when you get stuck at a certain section of the game, your more then happy to experience the action all over again. Aiming is tighter, controls are better streamlined and hand to hand combat is both easier to attempt and often quite challenging.
The cover system as also seen some improvements, but it's still the weakest part of the combat. It's not always as responsive as it should be, and can on occasion get you killed. Though despite saying that, these are issues many cover based games suffer from and when one considers Among Thieve's multiple environments, from broken down ancient tombs to snowy iced covered caves, the cover system does a solid job. What issues it does suffer from come nowhere near affecting the overall thrill of this wonderful game. Plus all in all, it's still better then most cover based games out there. It's just when compared to the superb excellence of the full package, it's one area that falls short of perfection.
Graphically Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is simply breathtaking, the original game is still one of the best looking titles currently available on console but the sequel takes things to an whole new level. The pots and pans scattered throughout the apartments of the war torn Nepal city have more detail then some games alone, I'm not joking. This level of detail is rarely ever seen in videogames and one that will leave you speechless. From the wonderfully realized ice covered caves to the stunning action sequences that some games would simply show you in a poorly made CG cut scene. In Uncharted 2, developers Naughty Dog clearly want you to experience it all and your rarely not in control of Nate.
If I'm honest with you dear reader, I could write a totally separate review for graphics and presentation alone. It's the type of game you'll be desperate to show off to friends and family. But rather then me rambling on about how stunning Among Thieves visual offerings are. I think it best that you experience it for yourself, you'll find it to be pleasing to the eye in all departments from beautifully rendered cut scenes to epic destructive action sequences. Remember that unforgettable Uncharted 2 presentation at this years E3, the one where Drake's inside the building as it collapses to the ground, Well that's a rather small sequence when compared to some of the others. Need I say more?
So for your buck you get a hell of a single player campaign, which is worth the entry fee alone. But I haven't even touched on the multiplayer, which takes the wonderful gameplay of the single player story and transfers it into a multiplayer environment. You'd be right in first thinking that such a move could be horrid and I at first thought the same. But Uncharted 2's multiplayer is fantastic, handled with care and understanding it stands out as one of the most interesting multiplayer modes since Modern Warfare. While many of the modes are the common crowd, the unique climbing and jumping gameplay of Among Thieves helps create some intriguing and unique multiplayer action.
Like most multiplayer modes of today, you can level up your profile and receive boosters (which are basically perks). You will also obtain cash which can be spent on multiplayer extras like new skins and specific weapon upgrades depending on what weapons you use the most and boosters vary from being able to carry more ammo then usual and even a revenge booster much like the famous martyrdom perk seen in Modern Warfare. There are multiple maps which are taken from sections from the game with some adjustments for gameplay reasons and Naughty Dog have already promised future DLC featuring more maps to enjoy. Overall it's a blast and is the icing on an already tasty cake.
There is a hell of a lot more I could talk about in this review, but I think it best that I end by saying some simple things. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is superb throughout, few game developers can even hope to create such a polished and wonderful gaming experience. It's an almost perfect example of why you and I love videogames and why they deserve so much attention, offering an experience no film or book could hope to achieve. Stunning visuals that surpass anything on both console and PC, not to mention some of the best voice work you'll find in the industry, give Nolan North a videogame Oscar please.
In the end I could have moaned about how Among Thieves doesn't do anything particularly original and how it borrows the gameplay mechanics from other games. But so does every other game made today, that's how the industry works and while it builds upon mechanics seen in past games, as a package Uncharted 2 feels both fresh and exciting. There is not one part of the single player campaign I hated or disliked and it's action packed until the very end, the multiplayer is the icing on this wonderful cake and one you'll be playing for a good while.
Overall, this is a game you don't want to miss.
SCORE: 5 STARS OUT OF 5.
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