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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on Game and Player

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Ed Kirchgessner  //  October 23, 2009

The very definition of adventure.


ack during the golden age of video gaming, narrative took a backseat to . . . everything else. Even today, few gamers could say they wait in line for the latest shooter because of its storyline. Regardless of whether it's taste or standards that we collectively lack, one thing is certain — we allow a lot of drivel into our living rooms. While it can't claim a particularly sizable library of first-party releases, one thing's for certain: the PlayStation 3 has played host to some of the most well written games of the last few years. First came Heavenly Sword, followed soon after by Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Valkyria Chronicles. This month, you can add another title to that list: neither a cheap cash-in nor even a polished-yet-unmemorable sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves sports a story that is simply masterful. Dare I say it: a fair share of Hollywood execs could learn a thing or two from the writing staff at Naughty Dog. And that's just calling attention to the game's story.

Shooting's improved greatly since the last Uncharted.
Like the original, Uncharted 2 falls squarely in the action/adventure category. Players assume the role of Nathan Drake, a modern-day treasure hunter who shares more with Firefly's Malcolm Reynolds than Indiana Jones. Nathan makes his living in society's gray areas — shady backroom dealings, petty (or grand) larceny and the occasional gunfight are all in a day's work. As such, you're given the freedom to do quite a bit in Uncharted 2. An instinctive platforming engine complements a highly capable shooting game. While none of its parts are quite perfect by themselves, in concert they're pure magic.

Despite its third-person perspective, Uncharted 2 features a control scheme that's both functional and intuitive. Jumping between platforms is just as easy as executing a headshot. While I am disappointed that weapons still feel a tad underpowered, enemies do seem to react a bit more naturally to your shots here than they did in the original. True, an enemy shouldn't be able to withstand a half dozen body shots with a 9mm, but that doesn't make the occasional one-shot takedown any less gratifying. Little touches like the ability to shoot from behind cover or even when dangling from a ledge go a long way towards making Uncharted 2's damage model bearable. Of course, you'll forget all complaints once you take the game online.

Uncharted 2 competently demonstrates that a game's online and offline modes need not be separated by a brick wall. Treasure acquired in the single player campaign can be used to unlock perks in the game's multiplayer modes — while none of these really affect balance, their collection is downright addictive and should greatly increase the game's shelf life. Multiplayer is divided between online cooperative modes, objective-based competitive multiplayer and what is simply the best deathmatch mode I've experienced since the original SOCOM on PlayStation 2. The shooting is fast, the competition cutthroat and each bullet is deadly as the last. Perhaps its personal preference, but I could easily see myself becoming addicted to Uncharted 2's fast-paced take on the online shooter — it shares more in common with CoD4 than Halo, and in certain ways surpasses them both. This is a run-and-gunner's shooter, accessible to all yet mastered by a select few. Put simply: it's great fun.

Nathan Drake: always a charmer.
Rounding out this fantastically playing (and looking) package is an audio mix that's second to none. Playing the game with its DTS soundtrack enabled, my home theater's speakers sang out in a way I haven't heard in quite some time. It's not every day that one can wax poetic about the nuance of sound in a video game, but the explosions, gunshots and subtle environmental noise in Uncharted 2 fall into a class that's all their own. As I've said before — surround sound should enhance an experience without necessarily drawing attention to itself. It's nice to see that Naughty Dog appreciates the need for quality audio in games. After all: it's half of the sensory experience.

Uncharted 2 is nearly the perfect game, and it certainly comes at the perfect time for Sony — as the company embarks on an ambitious rebranding of its PlayStation 3, this is the sort of standout product they need to move hardware. And move hardware it should: this game is accessible, immersive, impressive and fun. Both core gamer and home theater aficionado will find something to love, and no one will fault a story that's as compelling and rich as any summer blockbuster. A few more games like Uncharted 2 and the problems Sony's had in this console generation should all but disappear. As a lover of games, I'm rooting for them.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves



Naughty Dog


Sony Computer Entertainment

NA Release

October 13, 2009


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Great writing
  • Benchmark audio
  • Multiplayer integration


  • Weapon mechanics

G&P Rating

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