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Denny Markovic
15 Oct, 2009

Uncharted 2 Review

PS3 Review | Buy it. Do it.
The depth in which characters go when it comes to their personality in a game is often times an overlooked feature or an unsuccessful attempt. They’re either too perfect to feel human and relatable, or far too over-the-top and ridiculous to be portrayed as anything, let alone human. But for developer Naughty Dog, this barrier that many developers have struggled to cross has all but disappeared, as their latest work, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of the most involving and incredible experiences to date.

Indeed, Naughty Dog have crossed the line over to creating far more believable characters than most games allow, and this is primarily due to the fantastic little touches and finer points of each of the characters, with the protagonist, Nathan Drake, being the star of the show. But before we delve into each of the character's finer points, let’s elaborate on the story. The game begins with Drake waking up in a train, badly wounded and hanging off the side of a cliff. After Drake just barely escapes the massive wreckage, he is re-united with a mysterious gold dagger to whom he scoffs at. From here, the game retells the events prior to this disaster, and you play through until you reach back onto the train crash, and from there the game progresses onwards.

While not a new mode of delivery, the story line is simply put, fantastic. Sure, the story is not as complicated or in-depth as something like Metal Gear Solid 4 or the writer's previous work, Legacy of Kain. However, the story still holds a number of different twists and turns as it progresses onto its breathtaking climax, and rarely ever allows you to let go of your controller. But part of the addiction to the story line is largely due to the gameplay, which is not only responsive, but ridiculously fun. The core mechanics from the original Uncharted have transitioned over to Uncharted 2, but with an almost entirely different feel. The fluidity of transition for Drake and co, whether it be from melee to gunplay or gunplay to climbing, is absolutely outstanding. There is never a moment where the game feels clunky or unresponsive, everything is fluid and moves as it should, which is a damn good thing too when the enemy is so unrelenting in its attack. AI will actively flush you out of cover, charge your position, surround you, and overall make your life a lot harder. That being said though, the game never feels too difficult, just pitted against you heavily, but the satisfaction of taking out a bunch of guys is just awesome.

One unforgettable moment.

One unforgettable moment.
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Uncharted 2 is also filled with moments of sheer exhilaration and breathless events, where it’s not just your basic shoot, take cover, keep running, repeat mechanism. There are points in the game where you must adapt to your surroundings and at an alarming rate too, because it won’t slow down for you at any second. There’s an enormous amount of explosive and “holy ****“ moments to be had through out, and many will be remembered for years by gamers everywhere.

Among all this relentless and exhilarating combat though, there are points of subtlety and stealth. And Uncharted 2 has one of the best action implementations of stealth around. Stealth Attacks are easy to apply in situations where you’re not seen, and some areas can be cleared out entirely through stealthy application. You can slam guys heads into the sides of walls, grab them from the edge of a ledge and throw them over a cliff, kick them in the balls then snap their neck... there are a ton of different stealth moves, all dynamically applied with the press of a button. It’s an awesome change of pacing too, and it’s your choice whether you want to slow down the gunplay and start swinging the fists instead.

But what makes the gameplay and experience ever more enjoyable is the finer details in each and every character throughout the game. Nathan Drake is cocky, silly and most of all, very human, as he’s very easily taken out by gunfire and throughout the story is noticeably not always ‘winning’ every fight. He’s simply your average joe character who’s not all that strong, but lucks out a lot and breaks through situations through sheer chance. These moments are intensified and elaborated on with Drake’s dialogue, where he’ll say some horrible pun or silly remark about the situation, sarcastically taking the situation lightly. These are littered throughout the game and many a time are random as well, and it’s an incredibly real and ‘human’ aspect of the game, which adds to the overall enjoyment of things. The game never takes itself seriously enough to not laugh, as there are some seriously laugh out loud moments, and it works magnificently.

The beginning of the game is a breathtaking start.

The beginning of the game is a breathtaking start.
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Once you’re done with the superb single player story, you’ve still got a whole heap of content to find and play, with the next attraction being Multiplayer, in the form of co-op and competitive play. Co-op maxes out at 3 players and allows you to play through many of the single player games levels with friends, and it works very well, as throughout the single player you’re tagging along with allies anyway. It’s just like playing the single player game really, only with friends, which makes it even more enjoyable when it comes down to it. There’s also an arena mode for co-op, where you have to survive an onslaught of enemies for as long as possible, making for some great co-op entertainment that can last for a long time.

Competitive Multiplayer is also nothing to scoff at, with modes such as Deathmatch, Plunder (similar to CTF just with gold) and Turf War to play through, and all work exceptionally well. The fluidity and versatility of characters with climbing and such makes for a very interesting and intense game, with matchmaking setups similar to that of Halo 3 and gameplay that harks back lightly to Gears of War just much faster paced. There’s also a bit of influence from Call of Duty 4 as well, with a levelling and perks system in place, giving players a good level of customisation options and an addictive incentive to continue playing. The Multiplayer isn’t just a ‘tacked on’ feature like many speculated once it was announced. It’s fully fledged, operational, and utterly fantastic, and something well worth trying out once you’re done with the Single Player campaign.

By now you’ve already taken a good look at screenshots and videos of Uncharted 2 and gawked at how good looking it is. Frankly, videos or screenshots don’t do it justice. Simply put, Uncharted 2 is an astonishing technical achievement that is far and wide well ahead of any game on the market, both technically and artistically. Texture work is extremely well implemented, giving everything a crystal-clear sharp image and definition. Lighting and shadows are incredible, with use of HDR being very subtle but effective and shadow map resolutions being consistently high with very little jaggies. The game is almost entirely void of jaggies, with an exceptional use of Anti-Aliasing help clean out the image, and everything feels much more weighty and in-depth when looked at. And let’s not forget the animation work, which is quite easily the some of the best animation in any game. There is an extraordinarily life-like feel to each characters movements, and transitions between animations and positions is fluid and flawless, removing the often times ‘snappy’ transitioning that many previous games have done before it. Did we mention this all ran at a rock solid 30 frames per second too? We could list so many more things about the visual clarity of Uncharted 2, but to summarise; this is the new benchmark for visuals and design.

Nathan Drake: best character ever.

Nathan Drake: best character ever.
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And even when the visuals are so damned good, the sound matches up as well. Uncharted 2 boasts Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound, with full use of directional effects, and you’ll be amazed at of how clean it all sounds. Bullets will zip by your ears with fantastic authenticity, explosions will rattle your room with thunderous bass, and characters yelps and one-liners will be echoed through the chaos of it all. The soundtrack is excellent too, with bassy and low-percussion beats used in most of the action-based situations, then transitioning into a more mellow and harmonic tone when a change of pace occurs. And finally, the voice acting, which is simply some of the best you’ll hear in a game. Nola North once again returns as Nathan Drake and pulls an outstanding performance, with clever use of dialogue and just the right amount of emotion pushed through in each lines. The voice work overall deserves a standing ovation for being of such fantastic quality.

We could go on and on about how good Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is, but really you should already be playing it yourself. Everything from the story right down to the gameplay mechanics is utterly magnificent in application, and Naughty Dog are to be commended for creating such a masterful and unforgettable piece of gaming. There are some fairly minor niggles, such as some artificial lengthening in the form of waves upon waves of enemies, some small nuances with the cover system and one or two rare glitches, but they are very few and far between that rarely ever detract from an otherwise wonderful game. If you have a PS3, you owe it to yourself to buy this game as soon as possible, and if you don’t own a PS3, you now have a reason to buy one, as not only is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves the best game on Sony’s black beast, but also one of the best games to be released in a long, long time.
The Score
Uncharted 2 is a masterfully crafted game that not only blurs the lines between game and film, but sets a really, really high benchmark for action games to come. You MUST buy this game.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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31 Comments
4 years ago
Nice to see the game get such a high score. I picked it up today and I'm absolutely loving it, it's hard to stop playing.
4 years ago
I'm planning to get a PS3 just for this! (and Pro Evo)
4 years ago
hinduguru wrote
I'm planning to get a PS3 just for this! (and Pro Evo)
im planning to knock you out cold if you do icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
PALGN wrote
Buy it. Do it.
Done and done.
4 years ago
It's interesting that alot of people aren't giving this the full 10. It's even more interesting that I can't seem to work out why not.

I guess it poses the larger question, what is required of a 10/10 experience?

It's a tricky one, but I honestly would have thought a game of Uncharted 2's calibre and excellence, particularly when many reviews are devoid of any negative remarks, would be deserved of that much coveted 10/10 that signifies a reviewer's wholehearted and unequivicol recommendation to purchase.

Just a personal lamentation, really. I still think that if Uncharted 2 doesn't hit gaming perfection, then what ever has or will? The only "respected" site out there that has given it the full marks is Eurogamer, and they are, ironically, also one of the few sites to have spent time finding the flaws in Uncharted.

Note to Denny: nothing against your review mate, as you are my #1 trusted reviewer of any site and I respect your opinion greatly. Indeed, this review is just another example of your thoroughly excellent standards. I was just honestly building up the expectation that you'd give a full marker here.
4 years ago
Windburn wrote
It's interesting that alot of people aren't giving this the full 10. It's even more interesting that I can't seem to work out why not.

I guess it poses the larger question, what is required of a 10/10 experience?

It's a tricky one, but I honestly would have thought a game of Uncharted 2's calibre and excellence, particularly when many reviews are devoid of any negative remarks, would be deserved of that much coveted 10/10 that signifies a reviewer's wholehearted and unequivicol recommendation to purchase.

Just a personal lamentation, really. I still think that if Uncharted 2 doesn't hit gaming perfection, then what ever has or will?
MGS4 icon_razz.gif ? maybe not but pretty close / emotions and what not, also you may want to check out game trailers review as they give a pretty good reason as to why the 2nd game doesn't deserve any higher then a 9
4 years ago
I finished the game a few hours ago, after getting it a day early thanks to Game. It is easily the best game I've ever played. I was an enormous fan of the first game, and the past year or so I've been hyping the sequel up in my mind like it was the second coming. I was worried it wouldn't meet my lofty expectations.

But, y'know what? It is the second coming. Not only did it meet said expectations, it obliterated them. I had never dared to dream that it might be so amazing. I would definitely give it a ten. There is just nothing like it in the video game world.

The only part of the game I felt was less-than-stellarly designed was a forced stealth area at the beginning. I don't mind compulsory stealth if it makes sense story-wise (which it did), but a certain stage was more trial and error than anything else. It was over in a few minutes, and once you work out the correct order to do things you'll never have trouble again, but until then it can be a little unforgiving. It was literally the only complaint I can muster. The sublime experience from then on more than made up for it and then some.
4 years ago
mikezilla2 wrote
MGS4 icon_razz.gif ? maybe not but pretty close / emotions and what not, also you may want to check out game trailers review as they give a pretty good reason as to why the 2nd game doesn't deserve any higher then a 9
They gave it 9.3 icon_smile.gif

I actually didn't like that review, their only negative remarks were that it "lacked originality" and that it "had nothing to call its own". I think that's unfair really, as it also says it is easily the best multiplayer game on the PS3 and I don't think online coop has ever been done as it has here.

I also think it has managed to tap into that magical essence of fun, light hearted adventure that Indiana Jones created and seldom few other mediums have managed to emulate. But what gametrailers missed was that this wasn't because it lacked originality, but because it was being true to its roots.

It would be like calling Star Wars unoriginal because the space genre had already been explored in Star Trek.
4 years ago
The 10 mark was discussed. In fact on a personal note, it's absolutely a 10, I think the game is brilliant and one I'm already running through a second time without avail.

However from a reviewing standpoint, the game does a lot of things that are creative in execution, but others which aren't 'quite' there yet. Nearing the end there's a lot of artificial lengthening with the waves of enemies, and though I was fine with it, it glares out as something that is more or less there because they ran out of ideas on how to execute the final areas.

It's not necessarily a criticism on Naughty Dogs part, as I think they're one of the best developers in the industry, however it was an observation that befell me when I was playing away for so long last night. From start to finish the game is absolutely outstanding, but nearing the end (and to a lesser extent, the final boss), things became a little more down to earth and not so sky high.

How it played and performed: perfectly fine. The idea behind it: could've been a little better, particularly after some of the recent areas in which my jaw was literally on the floor.

There's a few other minor, minor niggles here and there but probably the most glaring is that artificial length and lack of idea.

Also I'm flattered Windburn, cheers icon_smile.gif

Hopefully that clears things up. Regardless though, people must play this game, and then buy it. It's way too awesome to let it slide.
4 years ago
@Denny

Thanks for taking time to explain that, I'm happy now icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
i think Denny cleared it up but i was refering to the fact that many didnt like that review ether and users had a spit - which then ( i think a GT rep) backed up the review and went in to more detail

ether way - http://www.examiner.com/x-6894-SF-Console-Game-Examiner~y2009m10d15-Naughty-Dog-to-keep-making-Uncharted-games-as-long-as-there-is-demand?cid=examiner-email
4 years ago
Awesome review, these are my thoughts exactly (altho I would have given it a 10). I never thought a game could surpass MGS3 or Fallout 3 in my books but having beaten this game yesterday I can safely say that in all honesty this is the single best game I have ever played, and that is certainly a phrase I don't use lightly. Unmatched visuals, addictive gameplay, genius pacing and story, no to mention perfect voice acting..... And then the sweet multiplayer, which I can see myself losing many hours in (even tho I'm not big on multi).
As I said, I finished it yesterday but all I can think of is playing it again. Like the subtitle says, buy this frickin game or you fail, hard.
4 years ago
Playing through chapter 6 as we speak and enjoying it immensely. All the trailers and pics really don't do the game justice when you see it running in motion.
4 years ago
Denny, after beating the game a few minutes ago I have to agree with you completely, especially regarding the the artificial lengthening, and the end boss etc... Still I think once you play the intro of the game you wont stop till the credits roll.
4 years ago
Well done to ND, Uncharted 2 is amazing. I am still working my way through SP, but I am taking my time soaking in the visuals and enjoying the game play, its amazing and a must have for every PS3 owner! icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
PALGN wrote
Dolby DTS surround sound
Um, OK, so which one is it? Dolby or DTS?
4 years ago
^Both Dolby Digital and DTS, depending on what you support. Looks like there's a minor typo there. Will fix it now.
4 years ago
And so it sits next to my TV, waiting for me to finish Risen. One at a time...

Awesome review by the way Denny. I really want to do this game justice; sit down and enjoy it with a nice drink without anyone busting my balls or things that need doing. Just me and the game. Bring back those childhood days!
4 years ago
Screw the DTS. Linear PCM 5.1 is where it's at if you have the equipment to support it.
4 years ago
I like to think nothing will ever garnish a perfect score, because then the game, movie, book, etc would have to be perfect, and that would be impossible.

I don't own a PS3 yet, and I would buy the game based on the trustworthy PALGN review, but I'm waiting for either Heavy Rain or FFXIII to come out to justify me buying a PS3
4 years ago
stick_theory wrote
I'm waiting for either Heavy Rain or FFXIII to come out to justify me buying a PS3
If your waiting for those specific games -one of which is mulitplatform- I insist that you take a long look back at all of the other offerings on the Playstation 3......
4 years ago
Wow, just blast through it on Hard and I could barely stop playing. When I wasn't playing it, I was thinking about it. Absolutely terrific on so many fronts. The only letdowns were that the central villain is underdeveloped and uninspiring and that the gunplay becomes too prevalent and repetitious towards the rear end.

Still, this and Arkham Asylum are neck and neck for my best game of the year.

Oh, and sticky_theory, I don't think a '10' literally means that a game is perfect. What is perfect? Who judges what is perfect? Is perfect a standard that can ever be achieved? I think '10s' are reserved for those titles which are so phenomenal that they stand far and above anything else in their field.
4 years ago
Im finding it amusing that everyone has Drake on their PS3 Gamercards.

Yes this game is that good. I wont be surprised if it wins the lions share of GOTY awards. I have set very high expectations for this game since day one and I am pleased to say it delivered. Best game all year so far and I don't expect Assassins or MW2 to out 'wow' it.

Pity that it hasn't had much mainstream hype.
4 years ago
Michael Kontoudis wrote
I don't think a '10' literally means that a game is perfect
ok then, but it should still require a game to get 100% in all fields to get 100% score XD
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