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Nathan Drake. A name you wouldn’t normally associate with situations of high action and adventure, yet this is the name of the main hero who has experienced many a high-adrenaline fuelled treasure hunt around the world’s various locations and which we have had the honour of experiencing on the PS3. The second of these will be chronicled in this review of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

The opening to Uncharted 2 sets the tone for the rest of the game as we see Drake, battered, beaten and hanging from a damaged train car that is dangling from a cliff edge. Players then make their way up and through said train cars, leaping out of the other side before they fall down the mountainside. The remainder of the initial opening part of the game serves as both an exciting trudge through the train wreckage in the Himalayas and a lead-in to the actual start of the game. It is here that we are introduced once again to Nathan Drake (the game’s ever quipping protagonist) and his treasure hunting comrades Chloe and Flynn. The game then works to introduce players to the main driving force behind the game as players travel to many different locations before settling in Nepal in search of the Cintamani Stone, the source of everlasting life.

This may sound like a tale straight out of a Sunday matinee movie and that’s because it pretty much is. The writers at Naughty Dog quite clearly know their Indiana Jones from their Romancing the Stone and incorporate the best elements of those films not only into the story of Uncharted 2 but into the characters as well. Naughty Dog have yet again proven how you can create convincing game characters that can have fluid and humourous conversations with each other as well as witty one-liners, just like the best matinee films. Kudos to Naughty Dog for showing others how it’s done.

Another part of the game that Naughty Dog should be complimented on is how gorgeous Uncharted 2 looks. From the characters to the vehicles, the environments to the effects, everything in Uncharted 2 looks as good as it can be on the PS3 at this point in time. No slowdown in framerate or graphical clipping here, everything progresses at a nice smooth framerate that captures the beauty of the areas the game takes place in. From Borneo to Nepal to Shangri-La, the game is as much a treat for the eyes as it is a test of the player’s wits. The soundtrack to the game is equally as bold and beautiful as the graphics themselves with sweeping epic pieces that capture the appropriate mood for the scenes they are heard in. This together with the range of sound effects used to totally engross the player in the experience and you have a fabulously presented game to spend your time with here. Presentation aside though, how does the actual gameplay in Uncharted 2 hold up?

Players will be happy to know that like the first Uncharted, the gameplay is still fairly solid, tweaked to be even better and familiar enough for fans of the first game to pick up again as well as new players who may be curious in playing Uncharted 2 for the first time. Brought back from the first game is the ability to get behind cover a-la Gears of War and this will allow players to either blind fire at the enemy or pop out of said cover to take more accurate shots at the enemy. An array of weapons will be presented to the player as they play through the game from various strengths of machine gun, shotgun, handguns, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, sniper rifles a grenades. Players will use all of these at some time in the game’s set-pieces and will be allowed to use them in a fun manner too. You can also pick up gas canisters, lob them at the enemy and then shoot from the hip to make them explode and take out a bunch of bad guys all at once.

The game also allow for melee attacks which can be used to take enemies down either from behind cover or sneaking up on them, attacking them face-to-face or engaging in fisticuffs and countering in cool-looking slow-motion. This together with Drake’s ability to clamber up and climb over almost anything that has a scalable surface and you have many different facets that contribute to the overall highly-involving gameplay that Uncharted 2 offers the avid gamer.

Uncharted 2 would not be a modern generation game without a multiplayer as part of the package. Thankfully despite initial fears that it would ruin the game proper, the multiplayer aspect of the game is possibly one of its best elements. In addition to the expected Deathmatch option, players will also get to choose an objectives-based mode, area capture, elimination, treasure capturing, siege of different areas as well as co-op scenarios to play through as well. This is definitely one of the highlights of the multiplayer aspect of the game as you and either a friend or online player play through scenarios set in some of the game’s key areas and play like additional chapters of the main game. They are quite enjoyable to play and will really test your capability to work as a reliable co-op partner as there will be times where you need to help your fellow player out or they get you out of  a bind.

The game throws several set-pieces at the player keeping the excitement high and the game’s downtime low. From escaping from collapsing buildings to taking down choppers, escaping from train cars dangling off of cliff edges to jumping from exploding vehicles, Uncharted 2 has you along for the ride and lets you experience and participate in the thrill of it all. This is definitely a game where you will want to replay certain thrilling sections of the game time and time again.

Uncharted 2 seems to tick all the right boxes but where does is attempt to find a hidden fortune and instead come up with a dud? For players of the original Uncharted the sequel could come off as more of the same which may deter players from dedicating their time to playing through Drake’s latest adventure. The online play could also polarise some players with dedicated pros making those playing online for the first time their first and last online experience of Uncharted 2. The bad guys are fairly generic fare in the game as well with the typical English bad guy and the main villain who is an east European military despot bent on obtaining the Cintamani Stone to fulfil his power-hungry desires. They’re not terrible but aren’t highly original villains either (they serve their purpose).

Detractions aside, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves offers so much entertainment for the action-hungry gamer that it will be hard for them to remain displeased. The main game and multiplayer portions of the game are of the highest quality, the graphics, sound, characters and setting sublime and the set-pieces most certainly memorable. Given the game has now been released on SONY’s Platinum range and will set you back no more than £20, it’s possibly the best game for that price you can get on the PS3.  Whether this is your return to the franchise or first-time endeavour into the Uncharted world we can safely give a warm welcome back to Nathan Drake and Naughty Dog with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. It’s the hidden treasure your PS3’s disc drive has been waiting to give a spin. ‘Till next time Drake, Goddamn!’

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