Marco Polo had an incredible and enigmatic life, half of which he never told because no one would have believed him. Traveling from China to Persia with Kublai Khan’s treasure, he made the greatest voyage of his life with unbelievable riches until something occurred to the other ships, leaving only thirteen. All of these thirteen ships carrying the Emperor’s Treasure were soon lost and the knowledge remained to Marco Polo alone. Enter audacious Nathan Drake, the resolute descendant of Francis Drake hesitantly energetic for another journey into the perils of the unknowns that comes with treasure hunting. Mayhem, pressure, and stress are what he unknowingly craves or what the world puts him in between. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is speciously among one of the best titles for the PlayStation 3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves seamlessly takes all the problems from Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and improves upon them while providing a completely immersive experience in the new storyline filled with incredible torsions, decent gameplay with an online component, beautiful visuals with incredible voice acting supplement, and moreover the pleasure of knowing you evade death constantly as a treasure hunter.
Naughty Dog is back with another incredible title in the form of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. While on a vacation set a few years after the events of the first title, Nathan Drake runs into a few friends of his that are on the hunt for a specific artifact that will give an apparent revelation to an even bigger treasure —the Emperor’s Treasure and the Cintamani Stone from Shambhala. With his background in evasive tactics, and not getting his fingers cut off by pirates, Nathan is the right ally for the job. ‘Nothing can go wrong, right?” says Nathan with a smug smirk. This is where Uncharted 2: Among Thieves places the players in at the beginning of the game, where everything seems horribly wrong. Nathan wakes up on a seat with blood all over him, and in extreme pain wondering what happened. Suddenly, the environment shakes and the players are hurled into an adventure they will never forget.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves essentially has very similar gameplay mechanics to the first one that have been much improved: through gunfight, puzzles, and navigation. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves hurls players in gunfights constantly, makes them solve puzzles and do tons of environmental exploration. While there is a strong coherence to all three of these elements, they are better integrated this time around. Gunfights are apparently very similar when it comes to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. You get into a room and fight off a bunch of different varied enemy models which will be revealed as working for the central antagonist, as there always is when it comes to treasure hunting. While the gunfights are the same, the navigation element in the various rooms themselves makes it more intense.
Contrary to the first title, Nathan no longer just walks into an area with a lot of awkwardly placed rocks and columns and covers and shoots. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves provides an incredible variety when it comes to the adapting to the environment. Nathan can climb on ledges and use different tactics to take down any enemy. Even though the gameplay function is very linear, players are given more of a freedom to approach and handle battles and tactics for improved strategy.
To further alleviate problems of simple run and gun, Naughty Dog uses the strength of the scenarios to determine what sort of gameplay style would be most accurate. Anyone can still run and gun or just get in on the situation without weapons and start punching away with enemies that have guns, but this would not necessarily be the smartest choice. The best part is that Naughty Dog still allows for this level of freedom unlike Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune which makes for a more intense and varied experience. Stealth is more prominent and underscores a level of gameplay that was unexplored the first time around. Should an enemy not see Nathan, he can perform stealth attacks that are always different depending on the environment, or the type of enemy, which makes for a grand feature. Even though this was possible in the first game, the level navigation makes stealth something more important than in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The best aspect of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves also has to be the climbing. For reasons we cannot mention here, while the climbing is still linear, it provides a lot of shocking and fun moments that players will laugh at afterward because of the intensity factor. One issue that we ran into was the fact that once enemies are taken down, their bodies are left lying in the same position. While Uncharted 2: Among Thieves remains in the realm of reality, not having the ability to move bodies makes no sense when it comes to the A.I. They can find the bodies and call out for reinforcements or in some cases that scenario has to be restarted.
Another prominent issue with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has to do with the rooms of enemies themselves. Our biggest issue with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was the constant enemies that show up in ‘waves.’ While it is understandable that in a real world scenario that Nathan and his allies would encounter massive enemy counts, the wave function is apparently disappointing. Either place them all there at once, or limit the number of enemies per room. The former does not make much sense from a technical view because there would not be any opening to take down enemies because of constant gunfire, but this design flaw of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves makes for an annoying factor.
Uncharted comes with tons of puzzles, because puzzles and mystery are the two elements that make up Nathan Drake’s world and for any treasure hunter that loves his job. While Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune used puzzles and climbing in a decent fashion the first time, Naughty Dog managed to make it used differently and perfectly for a great blended action. Puzzles are now less in number thankfully and even more complex. This time, Nathan Drake carries a journal of his own that he will constantly refer to for clues and things he finds throughout the landscape, including treasures and other interesting items.
Naughty Dog has finally answered the calling of many Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune savants for an online multiplayer option. The multiplayer is a welcome addition that goes beyond the merits of the single-player action being worth the money alone. Online multiplayer is split against competitive and versus and sadly does not do anything new. For competitive versus play you get variety by modes such as team deathmatch, capture the flag which is usually treasure (clever), elimination, zone control mode and more. With online comes ranking system that allows players to buy perks with the money they earn while playing. Levels are scenes taken from the single-player game, so the environments are familiar.
The cooperative play in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves certainly takes a nice priority. Survival mode has the intrinsic quality of joining friends to take out wave after wave of enemies. While this is fun, the mode gets ridiculous repetitive after a while and both of you will be finding another mode to play. The real action lies in the cooperative mode. The cooperative play is not getting a bunch of friends to go through the single player but going through various online scenarios that involve treasure hunting and dealing with A.I. The great part about this enemy A.I. is very more impressive than the single-player A.I. waves, coming after you take a set of enemies down in a room. The single-player version is annoying, but the online realizes that with more people, they can place a lot of emphasis on communication. Players have to constantly check their surroundings unless they want to face trouble later on.
For something completely new, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves includes a machinima mode that allows players to utilize the in-game rendering engines to send videos to friends through the PlayStation Network. While recording every game is set by default, the players can delete and organize all files easily, while also utilizing the tools for the specific video. Tools include a ‘twist’ effect, or a pan effect that dynamically changes camera angles around player models for a more interesting video.
The visuals in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is certainly one aspect of the game which is unbelievable. The real-time cutscenes look extremely impressive, while the regularly pre-rendered cutscenes provide for a great viewing experience like that of watching an entertaining film.
By far, the best aspect that Naughty Dog has clearly implemented in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has to be the tremendous camera angles. No matter where the gameplay is and even in real time cutscenes or pre-rendered ones, the camera angles add so much to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves than it did to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. While climbing, camera angles shift constantly and the camera has a loose axis during gameplay that allows players to use the analog sticks for more access to their surroundings by allowing a full pan to any available space.
The soundtrack when the game is first launched greets us to an amazing concerto with Chinese influenced violin pieces, and something that gives the aroma of a journey beginning in an adventure gripping setting. This is Nathan Drake’s serene journey as a one of the best treasure hunters in the world, and the music starts it off delicately and carries it throughout the title. Greg Edmonson has done a terrific job as the musical creator for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is exorbitantly a title that dramatically changes from the past iteration, expands on new elements by shifting their importance without sacrificing other elements, and provides an online multiplayer experience with a unique set of machinima tools. While the online aspect is bland and standard, with the game itself having small issues, Naughty Dog still implements a welcome addition to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves through the online component. When we look to a game for an Editor’s Choice award, we look to see whether or not the developer has created a game with elements close to perfect, which involves the major factor of inventiveness out of many others. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is no exception. The online component may seem standard and done twice over by many games, but the other offerings far outshadow whatever flaws the online component has. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves deserves our Editor’s Choice for single player alone, and it has been a quite a while since we last gave a game Editor’s Choice. The second massive journey for Nathan Drake is something every PlayStation 3 owner must play. What are you waiting for? Go out there and find some treasure.