Closer look: Uncharted 2 - Among Thieves
Monday 19 October 2009
Release: Out now
Once in a while a game comes along which surpasses all other examples within its genre and in doing so creates a compelling, unparalleled experience; Uncharted 2 is one such game. Naughty Dog Studio’s creation is a masterpiece of game design. Never before have story and action sequences been so beautifully combined to produce an experience which can only be described as akin to participating in an interactive movie – and we’re talking Raiders of the Lost Ark here, not Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Veterans of the original Uncharted game will feel instantly at home with the controls and action sequences of the game, they will also be the first to spot the enhancements present in the sequel. The opening scene of the game is a fine example of these changes – upon waking up wounded in a train wreck, the game’s hero, Nathan Drake, must climb out of the cabin which just happens to be swinging precariously off the edge of a cliff. As he begins his ascent anything and everything he touches seems to fall away from the cabin – a door here, a pipe there – the delicious in-game scripting causing these temporary climbing aids to plummet into the depths just as Drake scrambles his way to the next hand hold. The experience is unforgettable and, without spoiling any more of the game, is but the tip of the iceberg in terms of immersion and interactivity. Drake’s adventure is the stuff of legend, specifically that of lost Tibetan city Shangri-La, but suffice it to say that his path there is anything but straightforward. In keeping with his status as clichéd adventuring explorer, friends become foes, exotic woman give him the run-around and he survives the kind of life-or-death situations that would cause most mere mortals to crumple into weeping wrecks.
Yes, the story is entertaining enough, but as with all the best adventure blockbusters, it’s the action set-pieces which define the experience and raise it above its competitors. Uncharted 2 employs a dynamic combat mechanic which is as flexible and imaginative as the player. Whether you employ stealth to take out your foes in a series of choke and neck snapping close-quarter moves, pick-off enemy troops from a distance with a sniper rifle or run into the midst of your prey in a fury of grenades and machine gun fire, the choice is yours. Not that combat is all going to go your way, the AI of your adversaries is such that they hunt you down in packs and frequently cause you all manner of panic as grenades are thrown with unerring accuracy, luckily the combat is such fun that you won’t mind retrying the game’s more difficult sections. When Drake isn’t fighting he’s usually climbing the game’s luscious backdrops – Uncharted 2 being without doubt one of the best looking games ever created – or he’s solving one of the clever puzzles standing in his way. The most noticeable difference between this and the original game being the even greater amount of interaction with scenery and the progression into an urban setting as Drake’s quest takes him from the jungles and into city streets. The ease at which the game’s graphic engine handles this change is testament to the skill of the developers at Naughty Dog and the action never misses a beat.
Mention must also go to the all-new multiplayer options which add longevity ensuring you’ll be playing long after Drake’s quest has been completed. While none of the modes are particularly original they are entertaining and the application of the jumping and climbing mechanic taken from the single player campaign makes the action unlike what you’ve probably already experienced in the likes of Halo 3 or Killzone 2. Naughty Dog also promise new modes will be added in due course so keep an eye out for that. Uncharted 2 is a game that no PS3 owner can really afford to be without, so good that they could record someone playing it and release the resulting film into cinemas – who needs another Indiana Jones?
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