Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

October 23, 2009 by Rob Knight  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews



Title: Uncharted 2

Release Date: 16th October 2009

Developer/Publisher: Naughty Dog/Sony Computer Entertainment America

Genre: Third Person Action Adventure

Platform[s]: Playstation 3


Uncharted 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed PS3 exclusive from developers Naughty Dog has arrived a little under two years after the original and once again finds roguish hero Nathan Drake on the trail of fortune and glory. An artefact found in a ship that was part of Marco Polo’s lost journey returning from China in 1292 leads Drake, Victor Sullivan and new allies Chloe Frazer & Harry Flynn on the trail of the “wish-fulfilling” Cintimani Stone. As with any good action adventure all does not go to plan however and twists and turns along the way see Nathan in a race against time and a gang of mercenaries lead by a crazed war criminal to be the first to reach the treasure.


While the original Uncharted was seen as a poster boy for the then underused power of the PS3, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves truly is an amazing step in really showing what the console is capable of. All features and characters from the original are present and correct but it is apparent right from the start that Naughty Dog have not rested on their laurels and churned out a carbon-copy sequel, instead fashioning what is one of the most visually stunning and groundbreaking titles of this console generation.


Obvious comparisons will always be made to the Tomb Raider series and more recently Gears of War and its’ sequel on Xbox 360 but I truly cannot remember enjoying a game as much and feeling the urge to carry on playing into the wee small hours in a long time, if indeed ever. With regard to the breaking of new ground I feel that you have to look back as far as the original Tomb Raider on PS1 to find an equal and, dare I say it, the spectacular set pieces from the Gears of War and Killzone series are distant memories once you have played through the first few levels of Uncharted 2.

The developer has made a conscious effort to improve the maligned aspects of the original such as the repetitive ledge-to-ledge jumping (or in my case plunging to my doom) and room-clearing gunplay as well as the underwhelming but much trumpeted hand-to-hand combat system that prevented Drakes Fortune from receiving higher review scores overall. Four difficulty levels from Very Easy to Hard also make this accessible to a wide range of players who may possibly be more used to the FPS genre with the added bonus that you can change the difficulty on the fly.

In almost all aspects of the improvements the creases have been well and truly ironed out although a few niggly moments in climbing sections require you to try a few times in order for your character to realise where you are trying to get to next. Also fairly early on a number of enemies appear that are near impossible to defeat which, while not a bad thing as far as difficulty goes, can be a frustrating leap up from the more general enemies that are encountered. There is also a level, which by means of a flash-forward at the very start of the game, is somewhat repeated later on but even this is handled differently the second time around so it’s absolutely not a game-breaker.

The selection of landscapes in which levels take place along with swings in tempo where one moment you find yourself fleeing down narrow streets from a truck or hanging from a train while escaping a helicopter gunship are then countered with sections through chilling icy levels and a near silent breather through a Himalayan village.

The truly great script includes some genuine laughs and the neatly paced scattering of set-pieces really does make this seem more action film than action game. Attention to detail is also spot on with the puzzle-breaking Journal (called into action on numerous occasions throughout the game) containing many revealing insights into the character of Nathan Drake ranging from graphs of scariness, the bottom level of which is shown to be Sully’s moustache! to a list of Drake’s girlfriends past.


New to this series is the introduction of Multiplayer which includes many of the standard modes such as Deathmatch, Elimination, King of the Hill and the Domination-like Chain Reaction which provides players with the option to extend their playing experience beyond the single-player campaign and also includes co-op levels and machinima mode along with multiplayer cinema replay mode. This is however extra icing on the cake to what is the major draw of the title, namely the main storyline.


You may have already picked up that graphically this game is stunning. On an HD display the 720p vistas have such high levels of detail that you will find yourself wishing that the single player had a cinema mode also that would let you pause the game, swing the camera around and simply stare at what surrounds your character. Indeed on levels such as Locomotion there’s so much detail missed as you rumble along hanging onto or running across the top of the train that I started to wonder how much time the team had spent drawing this largely unseen yet amazing scenery. In fact, Naughty Dog have stated in interviews that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves uses between 90 & 100% of the Cell Processor’s power and takes up nearly the full capacity of the 25GB available to them on the Blu-Ray and you have to say that it shows.
It’s also quite telling in the 11 hours and 11 minutes that my first play through took that the statistics screen tells me I stood still for 1 hour and 40 minutes – admiring the views !


I played the game both through a home cinema amp and using headphones (for late-night playing into the early hours – it really is worth losing sleep over) and in both instances the sound field including explosions & gunshots, crashing cars, trucks & locomotives through to the serenity of children playing in the Himalayan village and birds tweeting in the jungle were perfectly balanced.

Audiophiles are more than catered for with audio mode selections including Stereo, Stereo Headphones, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM 5.1 and PCM 7.1 taking full advantage of pretty much every setup that anyone may play the game through.

Overall Score and Replayability

With obvious nods to the Indiana Jones series and The Empire Strikes Back amongst others this truly mindblowing game goes further in blurring the line between game and film as entertainment media than any preceding it. Where Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare included superb storytelling, level variation and multiplayer excellence, this includes all of that and characters that you feel an affinity towards by the time the credits roll.
I can’t wait to start my next playthrough of the single player campaign, trophy support and multiplayer will add longevity and variation as needed and there is even a Twitter feed update option that, although seemingly broken at the moment, will tweet level and chapter progress as you go and annoy your friends !

Final words – one of the best games I have played in a very long time, if you have a PS3, 11-15 hours available to you and are 15 or over (the BBFC is still watching after all ;-) ) buy it, buy it, buy it. You will absolutely not be disappointed.