Just under two years ago, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was released for the PlayStation 3, and it caused a storm, most notably for the cinematic experience it provided.
The game was not without its flaws of course, and developer Naughty Dog certainly had their work cut out tweaking the mechanics while maintaining the experience that the original provided.
Did they manage to pull it off? Well, you’re about to find out.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves follows the adventures of fortune-hunter, Nathan Drake, as he embarks on an expedition to locate the lost fleet of Marco Polo and the mythical kingdom of Shambhala (also known as Shangri-La). Of course, as a fortune-hunter there has to be some treasure, and that is where the ‘Cintamani Stone’ comes in, which in theory would be worth billions of dollars.
Drake’s travels take him and his associates through various locales, from the lush green swamps of a Tibetan city, to the ice and snow at the peaks of the Himalayas. With Drake’s luck however, the journey is not without obstacles, dodgy characters (character biographies here) and difficult situations.
The combination of top notch writing, excellent voice acting, and fantastic visuals push Among Thieves into a league of its own, the experience is certainly comparable to something you would expect from a motion picture. The plot in the game touches several different areas, from action and drama, to romance and humour; you can find it in Among Thieves.
Uncharted has once again set the bar for visuals on the PlayStation 3; the graphical prowess of the game is mind-blowing. A vivid example of this is while Drake is walking through the snow, it clings onto his boots and snowflakes gently bob around the screen. The musical score complements the visuals perfectly; and as a result the atmosphere created is intense.
The core game play has essentially remained true to that of the original game, but Naughty Dog have tweaked several mechanics in order to improve the experience. A perfect example of this is the changes that have been made to the melee combat. It is now a simpler affair, you no longer have to worry about button combinations during a fire fight. You can also use stealth manoeuvres to take down enemies, sneaking up behind them or grabbing them from cover.
Puzzles do feature in the game, albeit only a few times throughout the game. Drake’s trusty journal is back in his pocket for Among Thieves, and assists in completing the puzzles and making your way through the game. Interactive objects such as pipes and ‘stepping’ stones are normally well placed, but occasionally you may confuse part of the background as one of these objects, which can sometimes cause you to fall to your death.
The AI featured in the game is very competent; you will certainly have to think twice if you plan on ‘run and gunning’ past enemies, especially on the harder difficulties. Thankfully, friendly companions in the game are no push over either. Chloe, Elena and Sully can all work their magic with a gun, and do enough to assist you without getting in the way.
Naughty Dog decided that an incredible campaign was not enough, so they took on the considerable task of adding multiplayer to the game. There are six main multiplayer modes in the game; Deathmatch, Elimination, Chain Reaction, Plunder, Cooperative and Gold Rush. The first four modes are competitive (upto 10 players), while the last two are cooperative (3 players).
Deathmatch is exactly what you expect from the title, both teams kill each other until the timer runs out or one team reaches the pre-set limit. There are a couple of weapon specific rule sets that can be chosen, such as RPGs only for example. Elimination is essentially deathmatch without respawning.
Chain Reaction is similar to the king of the hill mode; there are several areas to ‘capture’ in a specific order. This mode requires a lot of teamwork to win; shoddy teams will find that they have lost within minutes.
Plunder is essentially the infamous capture the flag mode, except you are lugging around a chest of treasure. This one also requires a fair bit of teamwork; a team throwing the booty to each other like a relay race will find that this works better than one person going all the way.
Playing the story cooperatively does not have you replaying the single player campaign. Instead, you play through unique missions where you must achieve an objective to progress to the next level. You can play this mode with two friends, as you take the roles of Chloe, Drake and Sully.
Gold Rush is similar to the competitive plunder mode, except that you face waves of enemy AI instead. To progress to the next wave, you must capture the treasure, which gets progressively harder with tougher enemies as you go along. There are 10 waves in total for each stage; your trio needs to be quick thinkers to get to the end.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a fantastic game, but it certainly isn’t perfect. The few irritating flaws such as dodgy camera angles in certain scenes, or repetitive combat with waves of enemies, can become an annoyance. Considering the experience that the game provides however, these rough edges are not much of a pain.
There certainly was a lot of hype and anticipation coming up to the release of the game, but it wasn’t baseless, as Naughty Dog has delivered the goods.