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Old 10-25-2009, 09:53 PM   #1549
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,149
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Playstation 3

The newer style box for PS3 games.

When I first got my Playstation 3, it wasn't long before I picked up the original Uncharted (which was originally going to be a PS2 game). I loved its sense of adventure with action thrown in. It made me feel like an important human being instead of the shell of a man that I really am. The star of the game, Nathan Drake, is the perfect physical specimen. This guy could defeat any Olympic gymnast, easy. If you've played the game, you know what I mean. I am so unfit that I can barely breathe normally without going in to cardiac arrest, and this guy is jumping all over the place like a monkey without any fear! Now Drake is back in a new game with a new adventure. New characters along with old ones bring the same type of adventure the previous game did. This time developer Naughty Dog had MUCH more time to make the game and they used their time wisely.

Story: 7.8/10
I am not tremendously fond of the story-driven approach that nearly all games take these days. I think games should be about gaming, not storytelling. But there are games where storytelling is absolutely essential. This is one of them. Drake's encompassing adventure takes him to many places and many different things happen. You don't need to be familiar with the story from the first game to play part 2, but it can help enhance the enjoyment a little if you are. The story itself isn't a literary masterpiece, but it works. It would make a very entertaining and engrossing movie, but it won't get you involved on an emotional level like, say, Smokey and the Bandit. Still, the characters themselves make the story very fun. The voice acting is superb, some of the best ever. Motion-capture technology was used to make the characters move just like the voice actors did when they were recording the game. This helps make the characters very realistic and entertaining. The nearly perfect lip-sync reminds me of Heavenly Sword. The game also has a great sense of humor with fun banter between the characters.

This poor guy has a wife, two loving daughters and a son on the way. And you're gonna shoot him from behind!

Graphics: 9/10
They have made quite a few improvements over the first game, which already looked great. First of all, the textures appear immediately instead of waiting a second or two to draw in like would happen occasionally in part 1. There seems to be more polygons per character and most importantly, the screen tearing during the camera pans are now gone. Nate's hair and neck look especially realistic for some reason. And unlike many games of this generation, color is present. However you can buy a "next-gen filter" if you really want it to look like your typical current-gen game. When applied, it makes everything brown, gray and ugly. The animation is awesome and things that happen to you during the gameplay look extremely cool, like one scene in a dilapidated building, for instance. Not everything is perfect, however. Some character's eyes look really, really odd from a distance. Chloe's eyes, for example, seem to always have a bright, shining dot in them. It makes me think there is "treasure" to be had in them (treasure in the game is identified by a glowing white dot and your job is to collect them for no reason whatsoever). She looks very spooky, unnatural and (un)dead. Also, Drake's ankles bend very awkwardly as you can see as he is climbing the train right in the very beginning of the game. No game is graphically perfect I don't think, but this game's shortcomings are far exceeded by its strengths.

I much prefer the 3rd person perspective over the first person in when it comes to "shooters".
It makes it feel more like a videogame and less like, well, crap.

Sound: 8.5/10
This game has similar sounds and music as the original, with only a few new themes added. The music is fairly ambient and not very ambitious, though I really liked the Chinese-flavored themes as they reminded me of Shenmue 2. You won't be humming the theme nor does it really have much of an identity like, say, the Indiana Jones theme or whatnot. You have your choice of Stereo, Dolby Pro-Logic Surround, Dolby Digital, DTS or Linear PCM in up to 7.1 channels of sound, all of which can be switched on the fly, anytime. The sound effects are awesome and make excellent use of the surrounds and the subwoofer when appropriate. Many games seem to ignore the sub for some reason. As said before, the voice acting is awesome, though I do take a bit of exception to Chloe's voice. She sounds like an 80 year old smoker. Or maybe sort of a British Captain Janeway, perhaps? Either way, her voice is not very attractive, even though the character herself is supposed to be. Oh well.

This guy is an asshole, but you would be too if you had his acne. Just look at his face and his arm!

Gameplay: 9/10
I liked this game so much that I felt compelled to play through it completely twice in a row. It is very similar to the first game, only much more refined! Gone are the sporadic but annoying sixaxis motion-control segments from the first game. New is the way you toss grenades. You can toss them at any time no matter what weapon you have selected. There seems to be less puzzle-solving in this game compared to part one, but just as much climbing and gun-fighting. This game is definitely easier, but it surely isn't a cakewalk. When I played through the second time on Hard, the only thing I really noticed is that I died more quickly, I couldn't take as much gunfire. But other than that, Hard seemed easier than Normal. The train boss was incredibly fast and easy on Hard whereas he took me a few tries on Normal. Most of this could be attributed to me learning the techniques for each scenario on my first playthorugh. This game mixes exploring, puzzles and 3rd person gunplay. It's a fantastic mix, even if the controls aren't always fast enough to do what you want them to do. You earn medals and money in this game as well, which is odd. When I beat the game on Hard, I was awarded $40,000! I don't know what they do with it, but to this day I still have not seen any of that money. I sure could use it, too! The game features next-to-no loading, ever, in the single-player mode. Once you boot up and start the game, you can play through to the ending all in one sitting (if you didn't need to eat, drink, pee or sleep) and never experience a load time greater than maybe half a second. There is also no hard drive install, mandatory or optional. Naughty Dog sure knows how to build a game.

The online mode is standard fare. Nothing to really bash, but also nothing to really praise.

The meat of the game is most assuredly the single-player mode, but it boasts an online mode as well. It acts just like most online shooters do… stuck in a little area and you try to kill each other or take their base or whatever. Nothing special here. There is also a co-op mode where you work "together" to survive waves and waves and waves of endless enemies or go on a pseudo-mission with actual objectives, but mostly all you ever do is shoot at enemies. Basically, the online is action-only. I guess that's how people like it and it is fun for a goof, but overall no new ground is broken here. I do like that all competitive games are recorded to your hard drive and you can play them back at any time and save screenshots to the PS3 hard drive… that's how I obtained a few of the pictures for this review.

Wrap up:
There are two developers of this generation that others should take example from. One of them is Criterion Games. The other is, most assuredly, Naughty Dog. Like the first game, Uncharted 2 is an essential purchase. If you don't have a Playstation 3, then this is a great incentive to get one. I don't want to hear any whining that the PS3 doesn't have good games because it most certainly does.
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