Review | Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Format: PS3 | Genre: Action-adventure | Publisher: Sony | Developer: Naughty Dog | Release date: 16/10/09 | RRP: £44.99
By Daniel Lipscombe
I’m frog-marching into this review with a cynical head on my shoulders and a pessimistic hat firmly on said head, as apparently, and according to the hype surrounding Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, my mind is about to be blown.
After a cacophony of churlish squeals screaming “ZOMG this R Awesomez,” a part of me is looking at this game with a stern approach, scouring each moment for problems and bugs, hoping to find something, anything, that someone has overlooked in their quest for Marco Polo’s treasures. Surely it can’t be as good as they all say. It can’t be…
But my goodness, it is good. Overwhelmingly so.
It’s quite easy to get caught up in the hype machine, especially when you’re talking about a game like Uncharted 2. The original broke new ground in the action-adventure genre and taught our lovable heroine Lara Croft a thing or two, mostly when it came to storytelling. So many similar titles have fallen short when it comes to telling a cohesive and interesting tale, and when the original Uncharted told the story of Sir Francis Drake so well, hopes were high that the sequel would deliver equally.
This time, the story follows Nathan and his nefarious cohorts around the globe in search for the Cintamani Stone, a fabled giant pure sapphire with mystical powers, discovered by Marco Polo. Suffice it to say the story takes you to far away and wondrous places, while delivering a rollercoaster of ups and downs that any Hollywood movie would be envious of. Despite a few clichés in places, it’s highly original in its roots and leans heavily on the real life adventures of Polo himself. The only problem is that the story is delivered in early and late chunks, and there’s a disappointing gap in the middle section of the game. It left me wanting more; I wanted to more of the plot’s intricacies throughout, rather than in splurges at the beginning and end.
These intricacies add so much to Uncharted 2’s atmosphere as a whole, with glimpses of artefacts from the first game, in-jokes that bridge both of the adventures and interesting plot points that leave you intrigued. It would be a shame to criticise the story’s middle sections for being a little basic when Naughty Dog has created such a rich environment for them to play out in. There are some great touches throughout the game that build on the characters and their traits. Open Drake’s diary and you will see information scribbled down in haste, notes in the margins that spill from his mind. And there are many humorous sections too, a favourite of mine being Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan’s passport photos with hand-drawn expressions provided by Drake to highlight Victor’s many moods.
Thus continues a witty, clever and natural sense of humour that flows throughout, with interactions that feel organic. There are sharp one liners scattered within the script, each bookended by sly, cheeky looks from the cast. It’s in the delivery of such a strong cast that Naughty Dog excels where so many fail. It’s a sentence often banded about, but Uncharted 2 actually feels like a movie. The cast of characters, albeit animated in a far off studio, is as real as you and I, and if it weren’t for the fact that this is indeed scripted, moments in the conversations would even pass as improvised – such is the talent of the writing team and the voiceover work, the latter being some of the greatest in a long time. Each line is spoken with feeling, with meaning. Even the cream of Hollywood talent that has graced past games cannot match the quality seen in this title.