wess's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PlayStation 3) review

I don't know what to say - It's just freakin' good.

When a game like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves comes along, it almost frustrates me in a way.  For some inexplicable reason, I wanted to find something wrong with the game, something significant to me that made me not love it as much as every other person raving about it.  To my dismay, and leading to my immense joy, I found nothing of the sort.  Uncharted 2 is one of the most well polished, perfectly paced, wonderfully captivating video games I can think of.
From a gameplay standpoint, Uncharted 2 is a 3rd person shooter/action-adventure with a lot of cover based firefights.  The controls work fine, and the mechanics in respect to cover and platforming around environments are tight and rarely leave you angry about Drake not doing what you wanted him to.  The shooting itself also feels better than it did in the first Uncharted, which to me felt sort of weird and floaty.  Also, the set pieces that these skirmishes take place in are all unique and interesting, allowing you multiple ways to approach any scenario.  Really, at the heart of it, Uncharted 2's combat is about being quick on your feet and fighting with everything you have in an up close and frantic manner.
Unbelievable as it is, Uncharted 2's stellar combat moments are not necessarily the best things about the game.  The platforming and puzzle solving sections are just as varied and interesting, and some of the set pieces that they take place in are just plain mind blowing - both graphically and artistically.  But the game doesn't just have really nice platforming segments and well done combat sequences - it's really the meshing of these two that makes Uncharted stand out in my mind, and nothing illustrates that better than the lengthy train sequence midway through the game.  The entire sequence takes place on a fast moving train full of bad dudes, as you climb your way towards the front both atop and inside various cars.  During this sequence you fight plenty of normal goons, take on helicopters, undergo extensive platforming all across the train, including dodging signs in the brief tunnel section, and somehow all of those things come together perfectly, making one of the biggest, most badass sequences in gaming history. 
Even with all the gameplay glory that is Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog still managed to wind it all together with a story that was engaging and littered with fun and entertaining characters.  The dialogue is also well written, and the light-hearted wimsical nature of the game just made me smile the whole way through.  Also, Nolan North is just awesome.
I just keep coming back to one word when I think of Uncharted 2: polished.  I never met with any glitches, graphical anomalies, frame rate drops, or anything while playing Uncharted 2, and yet the game is still graphically the best game I've played, and contains balanced and interesting game mechanics, as well as a well written and well implemented plot.  It just blows my mind that games of this quality can come out in the same time frame as other more buggy, or incomplete products.  This is truly a game where, if given the choice, I wouldn't change a thing, and I really don't think you can ask for anything more than that.


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