Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was of the most impressive single player experiences over the last five years. It was one part Tomb Raider and one part Indiana Jones, with thrilling platforming sequences coupled with exciting exploration portions. While it did have its hang ups and snags here and there, the meat of the game was succulent enough to keep you chomping at the bits, wanting another portion.
Late in 2009 saw a sequel released, entitled Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which received critical acclaim across the board. Some called it the game of the year, while others felt it was one of the best single player experiences ever. I don’t fall for hype — if it’s not a series I’m used to playing, and don’t have an emotional investment in (Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty) I don’t buy into it. Most of the time, I’m actually right. After splurging and purchasing a PlayStation 3 to broaden my 365//365 project some more, I decided I might as well get both Uncharted titles. With Drake’s Fortune, I felt as if that game alone justified my new PlayStation 3 purchase. With Among Thieves, I feel as if I’m playing one of the most exciting single player experiences to date.
My experience with sophomoric installments of anything is….well, a mixed bag. Mega Man 2 was awesome. Muse’s Origin of Symmetry had some excellent tracks, though Showbiz still shined above it. The Empire Strikes Back was, IMO, the best Star Wars film out of the six. The US version of Super Mario 2, while not bad at all, wasn’t as fun as Super Mario Bros. years before it. Uncharted 2 though, erases everything negative I ever had about a sophomore installment of any series, group or installment of any kind. It’s just that damn good.
With how impressive Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’s audio and video presentations were, I doubted even a sequel would match up to it. To my pleasant surprise, not only did Uncharted 2: Among Thieves match it, but it surpassed it on nearly ever level. Nathan looks phenomenal, from his diverse wardrobe throughout the game, right on to his inability to properly use a razor. The world around you has such an absurd amount of detail, that it starts to feel as if you’re traversing through a real area, with realistic characters that you control. Up to this point, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the most visually pleasant console game to date, in nearly every aspect.
Explosions, gunfire and every other sound sounds commendable, even if it’s not changed up much. The voice acting is still stellar, with one very minor problem – Chloe. In the beginning, her “sexy” voice comes off more like a manly voice over, but as you progress, she starts to sound more natural, and in turn, sexy. Kind of like Ertha Kitt, but not as sexy. Everyone else delivers a powerful, and emotion filled performance, with a story that has excellent pacing, a perfect length and a story that blows away even the first title. The soundtrack is a step above the previous title, with every track fitting the situation, and completing the audio and video presentation in just about a perfect manner.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune had a few shortcomings with its controls and enemy AI that have been all cleared up in Among Thieves. No longer do you have these odd animations in your initial acceleration or the enemies doing these absurdly goofy evasive maneuvers. Everything is fully fleshed out, detailed appropriately and without quirks. You still have the grace in your moves as you traverse through all the treacherous areas that you’ll encounter. The enemy AI has been tightened considerably. No longer will you have to deal with bullets that hit square between an enemies eyes and they shake it off like nothing happened, or firing a bullet wide left to their head and killing them. Damage is as accurate as you can expect it, with evasion looking natural and enemies will use cover a lot more appropriately. On the subject of cover, you’ll notice that your cover will matter a little bit more, although enemies will still flank you hard in some scenarios. Thankfully though, you’ll find that cover has more of a meaning this time around.
Finally, there’s a new addition to the series in the form of multiplayer. Up to ten players can play in various online battles, ranging from the standard Team Death Match, to Domination type . You can even play a few co-op missions with up to two others. In regards to weak points to the game as a whole, the multiplayer is the weak point, although on its own, its still a lot of fun. It took me a few games to get the hang of how the game flows, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable third person shooter online. One off and on issue I’ve come across within the multiplayer experience has to do with occasional quirks with damage evasion. On multiple occasions, if I duck back around my cover, I continue to get shot for two seconds, as if I am out in the open still. This is not lag related, since the same exact game that this happens, I’m able to gun down opponents without a hint of lag whatsoever, almost seconds after my debacle. It happens every so often, and it’s extremely frustrating to have happen. When the games go smoothly though, they are fun enough, a bit addicting at times, and compliment the main story well enough.
Regardless of any quirks, this is the total package. One of, if not THE best single player experience ever in a video game, a pretty solid and somewhat addictive multiplayer game and an overall presentation make Uncharted 2: Among Thieves one of the most memorable, and one of the greatest overall gaming experiences in a long, long time. The hype was justified. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is THE reason to purchase a PlayStation 3, if you have not already. It was my reason, and it’s an investment I’d do over again.