Developer – Naughty Dog
Release Date – October 13, 2009 (North America), October 16, 2009 (Europe)
Platform – PlayStation 3
Genre – Action/Adventure
Uncharted was a game that pretty much came out of nowhere to become a major critical and commercial success. The game sold over a million copies (pretty much the benchmark for a major release, but far more impressive when you consider the PlayStation 3 installed base around the time of the game’s release, which was only in the 5 million range). For anyone familiar with Naughty Dog’s prior work though, the quality and creativity of Uncharted was hardly a major shock.
After the success of Uncharted, Naughty Dog had a lot to live up to with its sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The game was one of the most anticipated of the year, and was especially important to Sony as one of their major exclusive titles, which have been relatively few and far between. Uncharted 2 does not disappoint in the least.
So Beautiful, It Begs to Be Seen
Let’s start with one of the most notable elements of the game, its graphics. Like many older gamers, I’m no graphics junkie. I can play and appreciate games for their gameplay and story regardless of the visual accompaniment. That said, Uncharted 2 is an absolutely stunning game, to the point where you almost want to stop in certain areas and just stare at the surroundings.
Environments are lush and exquisite, with endless details, touches, and movement that bring them to life like few other games have managed. Character detail is also top-notch, and animation is almost uncannily fluid and lifelike. The game is not flawless graphically though, as I did encounter the occasional lighting or texture issue.
The audio is also brilliantly done. The sharp soundtrack fits the prevailing mood of each location and scenario perfectly, while being interesting enough in its own right to warrant a listen outside the context of the game. Sound effects are also well done, and explode with richness from your speakers. The voice acting is also greatly done, and because of the near constant accompaniment of varying AI partners throughout the game, takes on a more prominent role.
So Intense, It Requires a Helping Hand
The addition of AI partners is one of the biggest changes from the original game, and one that is executed quite well. Drake also has several new moves and weapons at his disposal, and the combat is even more enjoyable than the original as a result. While the combat feels much more fleshed out and action-oriented, there are also several stealth sequences which take a cue from the MGS games. All in all, the game controls brilliantly, is varied in its approach and execution, and is simply fun to play.
Another major new addition is the multiplayer aspect, and while I haven’t yet had much time to spend in the online matches, they’re executed well, with various game modes that suit the gameplay perfectly, and additional rewards and incentives to encourage play.
I won’t go into much detail regarding the story so as not to spoil it for anyone, but the game is very much a character-driven saga, and expertly told at that. Numerous wacky characters flit in and out of the story, sometimes joining you for a time on your journey, at other times hindering you. The story is an enjoyable ride through various locales, and a great complement to the outstanding action and puzzle/solving.
So Good, It Defies All Mathematical Logic
Uncharted 2 currently has a 96% rating from critics, placing it in the top 10 of highest rated games of all time. It’s also notable for receiving a 21/20 score from a French PlayStation-based magazine called PSM3, the first time I can remember a game receiving such a score from a professional publication since GameFan’s notorious review of Final Fantasy VII in which at least one (and possibly two) of the three reviewers gave the game an 11/10 rating. I won’t go quite that far, but I’m certainly in agreement with the masses in saying that Uncharted 2 is an incredible experience that shouldn’t be missed by any PS3 owners.
Graphics – 10
Sound – 9.5
Story – 9.0
Gameplay – 9.5
Control – 9.5
Overall – 9.5