Drake gets down and dirty.
Naughty Dog’s new game sets impossibly high standards for all other action adventures to match. A bold claim perhaps, but from the minute you start playing and find yourself hanging on for dear life to a train carriage that’s dangerously hanging off a cliff top you know that Uncharted 2 is something special.
The first thing that hits you is the fantastic sense of scale that Naughty Dog has managed to capture. As with the original Uncharted you really do feel that hero Nathan Drake is fighting against both the elements as well as the numerous bad guys that he’s constantly required to mow down.
The second thing that hits you is that no one, absolutely no one is able to craft cut scenes as well as Naughty Dog. Meticulously directed and featuring superb acting from the cast – they record their lines with each other and various props to make them as authentic as possible – they make efforts by all other developers look childish in the extreme.
Uncharted 2's visuals look absolutely glorious.
Tightly scripted and brilliantly paced they draw you into the onscreen action and are so mesmerising that even my non-gaming wife (she lost interest in my occupation after the N64) was transfixed by what was happening onscreen. Yes you can tell that new character Flynn is going to double cross our hero as soon as its gets a chance, but it doesn’t matter. Uncharted 2’s cut scenes, like its actual gameplay, may not feature innovative and startlingly good ideas, but what it is is polished to perfection.
Every dollar spent on Uncharted 2 is up there onscreen for all to see. From the truly glorious visuals, to the stunning cut scenes and dynamic set pieces, this is a game that’s been crafted with skill, an amazing amount of technical expertise and, dare we say it? even love. In fact, the most telling moment in Uncharted 2 is when you finish and immediately bemoan the wait for Uncharted 3, only to realise that you can simply play through Naughty Dog’s game immediately.
The hallmark of any great game is in its standout moments and Uncharted 2 has a plethora of them. While set pieces like the hind helicopter attack and the hotel collapse that you subsequently find yourself in set new standards for videogame action scenes, it’s the quite moments that can be just as impressive. The mind-blowing beauty as you take a rest in Borneo and see the jungle stretching out forever below you, the tranquil stroll through a Tibetan village that has you interacting with both the villagers and their wildlife and the unspoken bond that develops between you and Tensin, the guide that leads you on your quest in one of the later stages of the game.
Action scenes are brilliant. You'll be constantly surprised by what Naughty Dog throws at you.
In fact, the addition of Tensin is an absolute masterstroke and for this jaded reviewer, one of Uncharted 2’s cleverest moments. The guide doesn’t speak a word of English, and yet the two explorers are able to connect with each other thanks to wild gesticulations and slow, pronounced speech. It works brilliantly and gives you a real sense of achievement as you make your way through the dangerous, yet oh so beautiful caverns.
Balance is also something that Naughty Dog has achieved with amazing assuredness. The original Uncharted felt like a platform game and a shooting game and very rarely worked when the two elements were spliced together, but it’s a totally different story for Uncharted 2. Levels are fantastically designed allowing you to climb and scrabble around the huge open environments in order to seek out both weapons and the best routes for stealth attacks. That’s right we said the S word. Worry not though for while your introduction to the new gameplay mechanic feels rather stunted when you first encounter it, you soon realise that it’s there to simply enhance the exciting fire fights and not hinder you. Mess up an attack or get spotted and you simply move straight into a shoot out, there’s no restart, and if you’re good enough you can make the subsequent face-offs far easier for yourself. Again it’s the seamless way that every gameplay mechanic is integrated with each other that most impresses with Uncharted 2 and as the game continues those moments keep getting better and better and better.
Hopefully Uncharted 2 will go on to amaze punters as much as it has amazed critics and it really deserves to. For me Naughty Dog has not only created the finest action game since Capcom’s Resident Evil, but has also delivered the best game I’ve played all year. I’ll be incredibly surprised if anything else due next year, or even in 2010 comes close to the magnificence of Uncharted 2, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be playing them all to find out.
Uncharted 2 proves money things. It cements Naughty Dog as one of this generation’s finest developers, gives Sony a great chance of success over the Christmas period and proves that both Lara Croft and Indiana Jones have finally had their day. Oh and if you’re wondering why I’ve not mentioned the multiplayer it’s because I’m still too busy enjoying the single player experience.
Finally here’s a video of Uncharted 2′s opening moments
Video of Uncharted 2