Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – PS3

Posted on October 24, 2009 by

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Buy this game.

I’m not kidding. Buy it immediately. If you don’t own a PS3, weep, then sell your grandmother and buy one so you can buy this game, because, with the possible exception of Batman: Arkham Asylum, it’s the best damn game of the year.

When Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune came out, I played it through in one sitting. For me, this isn’t unusual. What is unusual? I played it through again straight away. Twice. It was my first PS3 game, and I just wanted to savour every single brilliant moment of it. It was a game that very definitely took things to 11. This game filled an Indiana Jones shaped hole in the world that I hadn’t even realised existed. It was beautiful- the graphics were lush and colourful and detailed. The story was rich and involving and it lent new meaning to ‘cinematic gaming’. This wasn’t Hideo Kojima, frogmarching you through 23 hours of cutscenes with 2 hours of actual gameplay thrown in to keep you awake, that’s as much as fun as a film consisting entirely of scrolling text to feel more like a book. This was the player having an adventure, being along for the ride, as if you were Indiana Jones’s sidekick. It’s characters were human and fleshy, and on several levels. They were believable, relatable, they bled when shot, they screamed when 300 year old spanish conquista-zombies jumped out at them around the corners of an abandoned Nazi research facility. They acted like real people. I can go on for days about how astonishingly good the first game was, but I already have before, and besides, something better just came along.

Among thieves takes everything that the first game had; incredible graphics, engaging storyline, characters you care about and amazing set-pieces, and ramped them up to thirteen and a half.

If you thought the first game looked good, then play this, and at any point stop, and just take a minute to look around. The sheer level of small detail is amazing. And then there’s the big stuff; the vistas. When people say ‘it was breathtaking’, they’re just using a tired old expression. When I say that the views in this game were ‘breathtaking’, I mean my goddamned heart skipped a beat, and it took me twenty seconds to remember to start breathing again. My jaw, a defined, well set british affair, dropped. If I could, I would set the game the just play lingering montages of the settings to chillout music.

The storyline is as before, decidedly pulpy, and very much in tune with Indiana Jones. But make no mistake, this game is Raiders of the lost Ark, not Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The basic sypnosis is that Marco Polo, a man famous for detailing his voyages with an awe-inspiring anal-retentiveness, left China in 1292 with a fleet of of 14 ships, but along the way lost 13 of those ships and almost all of the 600 men who sailed them. Polo never explained what happened. AT suggests that Polo had discovered the legendary city of Shambhala, better known as Shangri-la, and took the Cintimani stone, an enormous mythical sapphire that grants immortality and power to any person who wields it. A pyschotic Serbian warlord is after the stone, and Drake must stop him.

The game purports itself to be the Temple of Doom of the Uncharted series, taking a look at the dark side of protagonist Nathan Drake, but never really succeeds in doing so because Drake is essentially a nice guy, with a brilliant witty sense of humour, and clearly defined morals, going out of his way to put himself in danger to save others and by extension, the world. He’s some anti-hero stubble, and admittedly throughout the game he kills several hundred people, although they are crazed serbian soldiers hell bent on killing him and taking over the world, and hey, nobody ever complained about all the people Luke Skywalker killed when he blew up the Death Star.

The set pieces. Oh my god, the set pieces. The set pieces, oh my god. I’ve played a lot of games. Most of the big releases of the last four years, in fact. This game is loaded with the most stupendously spectacularly staggering set-pieces I’ve ever come across, to the point where you find yourself gasping, heart racing as Drake climbs along the side of a speeding train, runs across collapsing bridges, gets chased through skyscrapers by helicopter gunships, who then blow up the building, sending it topping over, with you still inside, desperately trying to get out before it all comes crashing down around your head. To say this game is a heart-pounding adrenaline rush would be bad journalism, but cliches exist for a reason, because this game does all those things in ways that I haven’t felt since Resident Evil 4 three years ago. You will be left panting along with Drake after each explosive section wondering how the hell Naughty Dog intend to top that. And they do. They keep topping it for the entire game. What on earth they plan on doing for the third game, I can only expect nuclear explosions, alien invasions and the end of the world, in stunning HD.

And so, as I began- Buy this game. If you’re saving money for Assassin’s creed 2, don’t bother. I want to go on record as saying that there is no way in hell it can be better than Uncharted 2. Buy it now, play it now, love it now. If you don’t, there’s something very wrong with you.

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Posted in: Games, Review