Uncharted 2 (2009), video game review.
There was a lot of hype about Uncharted 2 about a year and a half ago. According to the games case it was given over twenty-five, five-star reviews. It won Game of the Year in many reviews hearts, and was called one of the best games of the generation. Some said that it was like playing an adventure movie. But how does the game hold up after a year and a half? Is it a true, movie like experience? Is it the best game of the generation? Read on to find out…
I played through the first Uncharted as soon as I bought my PS3 a few months back. If you read my League of Evil review you may remember me saying that I ignored my friends all night to play it, well I did that with Uncharted 1 as well. I loved the game, in my first sitting I played through half of the games 8-10 hour campaign. And then, a few days, later a beat the game and returned it to Gamestop. I had loved the game, but there really wasn’t any reason for me to replay it (okay, if I really wanted to I could have gone back and gotten all the treasures). Despite having returned the first, my hopes for Uncharted 2 were still quite high. I’d played a demo for the second at Gamestop a few times and really enjoyed myself, I also figured that since it was a movie-like experience I would want to replay it over and over (because I like to rewatch really good movies).
And so, armed with a “buy two get one free used games” coupon I went into Gamestop a couple of weeks ago, and I bought Uncharted 2 (along with God of War III and inFamous). After two sittings I beat Uncharted 2, and now I present to you, my review of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
The Good and The Bad.
The core formula of Uncharted’s gameplay is a blend of Gears of War’s cover shooting and Tomb Raider’s platforming and puzzle solving. While it may not be all that original, the two elements make for a damn good time. Weather your swinging like a monkey across flag poles, or filling a group of enemies with lead, the controls play smoothly. But, they remain mostly the same as in the first game (which isn’t really a bad thing).
One thing that I did miss that they removed from the second game was melee combos. Now melee combat seems far too easy. You simply run in, hit the square button to attack the enemy, and then keep hit it until it goes into slow-mo which is when you hit dodge and then attack which finishing off the enemy.
Along with the melee combat being dumbed-down one of my major complaints with the Uncharted series as a whole, is that most of the weapons feel the same. All machine guns feel nearly identical, and the hand guns as well as feeling the same, look the same. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few cool weapons in the game (the pistole is awesome) but there few of those and many weapons that feel the same as the others. And also there are not very many new weapons in the second game—maybe a handful but that’s it.
A couple things that I am grateful that they changed from the first to the second are: the way grenade throwing is handled, and walking on beams.
In the first game the Naughty Dog team turned to incorporate Sixaxis motion controls into it. To throw a grenade you had to hold down the throw button and then awkwardly twist your hands back towards yourself to adjust the arc of the grenade. I’m not go to speak for others, but most of the time I resorted to blind throwing my grenades from behind cover or else never using them. Thankfully in second that feature was removed and instead you control the grenade arc with your joysticks.
The other way that motion controls were planted in Uncharted 1 was when you would cross a beam you would have to twist the controller to keep Drake from falling off the log (or whatever else he was walking across). And again, in the second game they give the control over to the joysticks.
I have two things to say about the level design in the game.
First I love the way that they used little tunnels and cracks in the walls for you to slide through. Not only does it add a small amount of tension because the character is squashed in-between to rocks, but it also makes the level design more realistic. Instead of moving from perfectly molded cavern to perfectly molded cavern Drake now has to squeeze and slide his way the holes in the wall.
And the second thing is that I wish there more non-linearity to the levels. It seems that each room has just one or two paths through it and the each end at the same spot. If I’m going through a cavern, I want it to be huge and maze-like—not, path A or B, you choose but they both lead to the same spot.
I’d heard that Uncharted 2 has some amazing camera work. It does, to some extent. The cutscenes all have great camera angles and such, but, while the camera work in-game is good, most of it has already been done (mostly by the God of War games). Most of what the in-game camera angles are, are they take away control of the camera from you and place it where they want it. While this is good for creating cinematic scenes without having to make them a cutscene, I didn’t like the fact that a few of the camera angles were ripped straight from the first two God of War games.
The graphics in this game are amazing, snow clings Drake the longer he stays out in a snow storm. And birds of paradise swoop about in the jungle. There aren’t really any complaints I can fairly level at Uncharted 2’s graphics.
Along with the graphic the cutscenes are amazing. The voice acting, as always for the Uncharted series, is amazing. And the story, while not the best I’ve played through, is good enough to keep you playing. But the story isn’t the main focus of the cutscenes, it’s the characters. The characters in Uncharted are some of the best in the video game business. The conversations and interactions between the characters (in cutscene or out) are well written and realistic.
My major complaint with this game (and the last) is that at certain points in the game you come to an area with groups of baddies ready to take you down, and you have to perfectly execute your assault. One wrong move and enemies will quickly send you back (sometimes many minutes back) to a checkpoint. After many times of, headshot that guy, melee kill this guy, and then blind fire those three guys with my Ak-47 I would then be wandering around the area picking up ammo when a shotgun wielding, armored brute would come up behind me and bam, I’m set back ten minutes and I have to do all that again. I this isn’t because I’m not good at video games, I’ve beaten both of the Gears of War games on max difficulty multiple times along with Modern Warfare 2; it’s just that the game has moments, where if every kill isn’t perfect, you’ll lose.
The game has its flaws, but when it shines, really does shine. If you want to play either a character driven game, a cover based shooter, or a Tomb Raider style platformer then you should at least check this game out. If you loved the first game and want more than the game delivers, but then again if you were never too into the first game, its sequel doesn’t change much.
Visual: The game has some amazing graphics, and the fact that the actors are just computer made images doesn’t really affect the emotions conveyed by them. One of my favorite graphical touches is how show sticks to your body the longer you stay exposed to it.
Sound: The sound acting ranks as some of the best in video game history. The other sounds in the game, are good too, but some of them are overshadowed by the voice acting.
Gameplay: The controls works without a hitch. My only complaint is that at least one of the puzzles was extremely annoying, and I ended up just messing around with stuff for twenty minutes before I accidentally solved it.
Worth Your Money: The game’s campaign only clocks in at about nine hours (which is longer than all the Call of Duty game combined) afterwards, unless you have online, there really isn’t that much replay beyond a few characters skins and higher difficulties.
Console: PS3 exclusive and probably will always be.
Parental Rating: T/ 13+
Developer: Naughty Dog, Inc
Overall Score: 9/10