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December 22, 2009

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - First Impressions

*Note:  This game is only available on the PS3*

After playing Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, I knew that I would be picking Uncharted 2: Among Thieves up quite soon after it came out.  Only the fact that I play games singularly and I was in the middle of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 kept me from getting this one when it first came out.  I bought it last week before I left, so I haven't had a whole lot of time to get into the story.  But I have played it long enough to know that this game will rival, if not surpass, the original.  And it's even got multiplayer too!  The first game didn't have that.

The basics of the story is that you play as treasure hunter Nathan Drake, a man who's good with a gun as well as his fists. The game opens with Nathan wounded high above a mountain top, trying desperately to save himself from the ruined train he is in before it falls over the edge of the mountain (how he's doing all this jumping and running with a belly wound, we won't talk about). This section gives you a good overview of the various things you're going to have to do throughout the game. There's jumping, climbing, even a couple of bad guys to sneak up on or shoot. Once you get to a certain point, you flash back to what started this all. An old "friend" finds you in a bar and recruits you to help him steal something from the Turkish museum that just may lead to a secret treasure from Marco Polo's trips to the Orient.

Needless to say, betrayal, old flames and good friends helping you out of tight spots all come into play, at least so far. I'm only on Chapter 5 now, so I'm sure there will be a lot of twists and turns in the storyline. I like how, so far, the flashbacks are interspersed with the "current" section on the mountaintop, though I get the feeling the rest of it will be flashback until I get to my "current" point. We'll see, though.  One little story nitpick I have (so far) is that Drake makes a big point of taking out the guards in a non-lethal fashion at the museum, but one of them he pulls over the wall he's hanging from, making the guard plummet to his death.  Yeah, that's non-lethal all right.

The graphics are beautifully done, probably the best I've ever seen in a game.  The last game I said that about was the original Uncharted.  The details have to be seen to be believed.  And it's not just the graphics of the cutscenes, though those are extremely well-done too.  The in-game graphics are lush as well.  When you're in the jungle, you can see birds perching in the treetops, periodically getting spooked and flying away.  When Drake goes into a river or stream and gets out again, he actually looks wet and you can hear the squishing of his shoes.  He dries off fairly soon and you could argue that in the jungle, he wouldn't, but that's just a nitpick.  Sometimes you just pan your gaze around looking at the beautiful surroundings, whether it's the jungle or an ancient temple or some ruins, and forget that somebody's actually shooting at you!

The game mechanics are quite good too.  The fistfighting is easy to do and you can do a variety of combos.  The shooting mechanics are also quite good, though sometimes the cover system gets a little convoluted.  Sometimes when you want to hide behind something and press the "circle" button, you end up jumping out of cover instead.  That can be a bad thing when you're trying to be stealthy.  Otherwise, though, the combat system is awesome.

As for the climbing, that's another great part of this game.  I like how the game makes it a bit easier for the player in the sense that if you jump, you'll latch on to any surface that is near you, so you don't have to worry about jumping off of a cliff because you didn't time it right.  If you can't jump, it won't let you jump.  However, you can drop off of a ledge and land on a different ledge, and if you drop without anything being beneath you, you will fall to your death.  So be careful there.  There are also a few puzzles to solve, though I haven't reached any yet so I can't comment on how good they are.  The ones in Drake's Fortune were fairly intuitive, though, so I would hope they'd be the same in this one.

I've only played a few multiplayer games, but it's a lot of fun too (though pretty empty now that Modern Warfare 2 is out; one night there were 4500 people on and another there were only 2500, worldwide).  Despite the emptiness, you can usually find a game pretty quickly.  You can do Deathmatch, Elimination, a treasure hunt game where you're trying to bring the treasure back to your home base, and a few others as well.  You can do everything in multiplayer that you can in the regular game: jumping chasms, climbing, pulling the enemy over the ledge that you're hanging from if they're standing right there (happened to me a couple of times).  It's a blast to play, and a welcome break from the story occasionally.

I can't comment yet on whether the story holds up or if there are any mechanical problems later in the game (though from all reviews I've read, it does and there aren't).  But if it maintains the quality that I've seen so far, this will once again be one of the best games I've played this year.


  1. No, it's PS3 exclusive. So I can't even play it on my Xbox.

    I'm going to edit that into the post. Thanks for pointing that out!


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