It's the half tuck, Schafer's nostril hair, and the bee's knees
When a band, book, movie, or game strives to be epic the results tend towards the extremes of the quality spectrum. In a world of Lord of the Rings there also exists a 10 000 BC. Uncharted 2 fortunately is the good, nay the great, type of epic.
The reason that Uncharted 2 is epic in a great way is not because of the quality of its graphics or its set pieces, as is often the goal in modern "AAA" development, but rather in the smallest details present within every aspect of the game's presentation and game play. In one cut-scene I noticed a character's nostril hairs (who even thinks of rendering that?) and in another, more dynamic, moment I noticed protagonist Nathan Drake raising his hand to shield his face from fire. These details confirm that the team at Naughty Dog greatly cares about the product they've produced and add a personal feel to a game that attempts to be big in every way.
It is not the presentation alone that allows Uncharted 2 to reach the heights it does however, since the game play itself is also exceptional. The moment to moment game play is divided evenly between cover-based combat and platform-based exploration and traversal. The balance of game play is very advantageous to Uncharted 2's flow as a particular scene never drags by focusing too long on any given mechanic. Game play is rounded out by some light puzzle solving, stealth sections, and least notably a hand-to-hand combat system that is somewhat too repetitive - though only peripheral to the overall experience.
The story, while not exceptional in terms of its concept, is told skillfully by means of exceptional voice acting, fluent scene transitions, and excellent pacing that ensures that no level overstays its welcome or conversely overwhelms the player with occurrences. The experience is engaging throughout and plays like a well edited action movie. There are quite a few moments in Uncharted 2 that I had not though possible within the current generation of games until I had experienced them and more importantly, interacted with them.
This review does not touch on every aspect of Uncharted 2 which also includes multi-player, co-op levels, and a entertaining unlock system (dough-nut Drake is entertaining indeed). One can argue however that these components are superfluous if the single-player experience by itself is so amazing. They are present however and provide a good amount of value.
I'll conclude my thoughts by admitting the rather gushing nature of the impressions above. The time I've spent with Uncharted 2 makes my gushing involuntary. I highly recommend that you pick this up if you have not already, because I'm quite confident your reaction will be the same.