Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Remastered)
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 10/8/2015 (PS4); 10/13/2009 (PS3)
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (2015), PlayStation 3 (2009)
Much improved on the critically acclaimed first entry, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 2: Among Thieves continues to raise the bar with smooth moment to moment gameplay combined with cinematics that rival those of critically acclaimed cinematics. The newest chapter of Nathan Drake’s story is exceptionally well paced, and despite a few hiccups in the moment to moment gameplay, the connection you feel with the supporting cast and treasured locales are more than enough to want to dive back in once the credits roll.
The early chapters of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are used as building blocks to bring the player up to speed and the events leading up to present day Drake. While we’re quickly introduced to many new characters that play a crucial role in the story, they never feel out of the place and their relationship to Nathan never felt forced. Nolan North’s portrayal as Nathan Drake is a step above an already remarkable performance for Drake’s Fortune, and the added talents Emily Rose (Elena Fisher) and Richard McGonagle (Viktor Sullivan) are roles to make note of as well.
One of Uncharted’s many strong points is its attention to the little details that add a level of authenticity into even the tiniest of actions in the game. The way clothes appear damp after walking through a shallow river, or the way Nate’s clothes are covered in snow as he’s rolling around creates a sense of realism in just about every moment you can find in the story. Another point of notion is the humanity of Drake. Sure, we all know what we’re in for when we embark on this journey of fame and fortune. But it’s how the cumulated near death experiences for our hero begin to dwell on not only himself, but those who care for him give the characters a real sense of vitality, especially when the story slows down for a bit to give the player chance to see the effects of the trials and tribulations that face Nathan.
Another tip of the hat is the way the game respects the time of the player. In a day and age where we see a large portion of games tip the scales of 20, 30, or even 40 hours plus of gameplay, Uncharted’s combination of a linear storyline and emphasis on every little detail that they can find leads to a high quality 8 to 10-hour campaign filled with amazing moments of combat, stealth, traversal, and cinematics that keep its single player lean and palpable for the player. If you’re stuck in an area for a couple of minutes, you’ll get hints as to where you need to go next to progress the story. There are also times where you enter a larger, more open area, and the game will prompt you where you need to go whilst allowing you take in the world as you explore it. This keeps the bumps off the road and allows for a journey with a lean, quality experience.
The combat of Among Thieves has several added new features, though I still ran into a few hiccups in some areas. While the added features of riot shields that allow for mobile cover or being able shoot out thrown propane tanks at enemies are pleasant additions, trying to run around and find cover while facing multiple enemies at one is still particularly daunting. Yet even with these subpar qualities, there are some amazing stages that push the issues of gunplay to the side such as jumping from a burning construction truck to maneuvering around the roof of a speeding train trying to both avoid being taken out by warning lights whilst trying to mow down every enemy in your path. When compared to the new feature of stealth in the game, combat still feels like the recommended approach excluding the introductory sequence tutorial.
As with every memorable treasure hunt comes its fair share of puzzle solving. Having to shift back and forth between Nate’s journal to try and solve an elaborate puzzle may seem tedious at times. With the scale of these set pieces however, it’s hardly a nuisance. While I’ve talked about the scale of combat and traversal, the addition of these puzzles gives a larger scope to what the player can do.
When you’re talking about a game that exemplifies the perfect balance of cinematic storytelling and exceptional gameplay, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves hits all the notes it needs to deliver an exceptional title with a great cast and story. Naughty Dog’s sequel shows that it’s a step above its first installment, and the result is a story that resonates with those who play it and keeps them wanting more.