We could save ourselves a lot of time if I just told you straight up that you need to get Uncharted 2. If you have a Playstation 3 and don’t own it yet, why don’t you stop whatever you’re doing and just go get it. If you liked the first one at all, then you’ll love this one–it’s better in every way. If you don’t have a Playstation 3 yet, then this is one of the best reasons for you to go get one. For those of you that are still here and need a bit more convincing, read on; Uncharted 2 is one of the best games on the Playstation 3, and a serious contender for Game of the Year on any platform.
Let’s start with the shiny and fun stuff: Uncharted 2 has the most impressive graphics I’ve ever seen on a console game. If that sounds like hyperbole, then you haven’t seen Uncharted 2 in action, so quit your whining and go find out for yourself before you contradict me. Animations are fluid and realistic. The environments, which were part of what drew people to the original game in the first place, are brighter, colorful, and just feel alive. There are parts of this game that approach photo realistic, and the cutscenes use the in-game engine (Naughty Dog Engine 2.0, an upgraded version) to tell the game’s story–the seamless transitions between cutscenes and in-game events is impressive, to say the least.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Oct. 13, 2009
The music in the game is wonderful in its ambient nature, rising and falling at all of the right times to increase tension and keep you focused on the game world. Sound effects are satisfying to hear–explosions, gun fire, the chatter of Nathan Drake as he rolls away from grenades or pops a guy in the head with a shot. Most wonderful is the voice acting though–the writing and acting are of such high quality that the game is almost as entertaining to watch as it is to play. Nathan is a lovable lead, but the supporting cast is just as entertaining–old favorites in Sully and Elena return, along with newbies like Harry Flynn and Chloe, two characters who have a history with Nate that are with you through various means throughout the adventure.
The story is well done (just like in the first game) so even if you begin to tire of shooting from behind cover at your enemies, you will want to keep playing to hear that next line or see the tale unfold. I won’t spoil a thing for you, but the game begins in the midst of the action, with Drake falling out of a train car that’s suspending from a snowy mountain. Flashbacks bring you into the past, and you play your way right back to the scene after a significant number of hours. It’s a neat mechanic that is not seen very often in games, and it worked to great effect here as you re-lived the events of Drake’s life leading up to his being half-dead in the snow.
Uncharted 2’s gameplay is split into three distinct sections: platforming, puzzles, and shooting. The puzzles in this sequel are improved from the first–they aren’t as painfully obvious, and you now get to flip through a few pages of your journal at a time in order to figure out just where Nate has seen this puzzle before. They are still simple though, but enjoyable to solve. The platforming is the more significant part of the gameplay, as you will spend a huge chunk of your time in Uncharted 2 climbing, jumping, and trying your best not to look down. Climbing isn’t as easy as it was in say, inFAMOUS, where you automatically latch on to everything, but that’s because there are more specific paths for Drake and company in this game than in that one starring a super powered protagonist. Climbing is satisfying, and sometimes finding the right path is a puzzle unto itself–a more challenging one than the actual puzzles at times. There’s a hint system in place if you take too long, and you can press up on the D-pad when notified one is available to see it. It’s helpful, especially your first time through the game, as it just points you in the right direction without actively telling you what needs to be done.
You’ll spend more time shooting than anything in Uncharted 2, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Luckily, the controls are tighter, and for this reason you’ll have much more fun blasting away mercenaries than you did in the original. For one, grenades are now thrown by holding L2 to create a throwing arc, and then releasing it to toss your grenade. Need a quick explosion? Naughty Dog’s got you covered there too, as you can now blind fire a grenade using your reticule as a quick and dirty guide; hold L1 and press L2 to fire your grenades this way. I use this more often than the more accurate system, just because there isn’t always time to setup a grenade lob. Plus, it’s a hand grenade, and almost counts here; you don’t need to be spot on with each one to do damage.