Sunday, December 6, 2015

Uncharted trilogy Reviews: Uncharted 2 Among Thieves

With the Nathan Drake Collection released, I am going to review each Uncharted game as I play through them for the hundredth time. This will act as our Uncharted Collection review since nothing has changed in the ps4 version except graphics and framerate. The multiplayer is even taken out, but you will get to play the Uncharted 4 beta on December 4th. The only reasons to get the Uncharted Nathan Drake Collection is if you haven't played them before, you can't get enough Uncharted, or if you can't wait to try out the Uncharted 4 multiplayer. 

You wake up with an immediate sense of danger, and an atrocious pain penetrating your side. Nothing is right side up; your hand is filled with blood. Something has clearly gone wrong. You are inside a train that's precariously dangling from a mountain... with a bullet hole in your side. This is the opening scene of Uncharted 2 Among Thieves. Nathan Drake has to scramble up this train, and players are immersed from the very start. This is only the first chapter, but it represents Uncharted 2's ability to put players in the middle of a blockbuster movie. A blockbuster movie that does everything right from plot to characters to dialogue. Uncharted 2 is clearly something special and it's one of the best experiences that gaming has to offer.

The plot is inspired by Marco Polo as Nathan Drake, Victor Sullivan, Elena Fischer, and Chloe Fraser are in a global conflict against a warlord ,Zoran Lazarevic, to reach the cintamani stone. This journey will take you from Borneo to Nepal to the Himalayans letting Uncharted 2 delve into a diverse set of environments. There is never anything that seems repetitive and the fun will last until the credits. You will be engulfed by both story and gameplay.

Chloe Fraser adds an interesting dynamic for the characters by giving the right amount of drama for Nathan Drake. She has an attitude that can match Drake's and compete with Elena. Her values are mixed and ever changing throughout the story. This is what makes Chloe such a strong edition to the Uncharted cast. In fact every character introduced has something meaningful to offer. Lazarevic is the best villain in the series due to his menacing nature that makes a presence unlike anyone else. His outbursts of anger send a chill down your spin, but this behavior does highlight a stereotypical villian. This cast of  characters capitalize on the script, which has emotional character moments revolving around a clever, well crafted experience. That classic Uncharted humor is still present, but everything is balanced so well.

The biggest improvement is on the gameplay side of things. Puzzles, climbing, and gun play are spread out evenly to create a well paced experience. On the puzzle side of things you will never fill overwhelmed or lost. They are all pretty easy, but what makes them so great is their creativity in terms of atmosphere. My favorite being the classic bounce the light around the room puzzle. There is something spectacular about climbing a huge dagger as that outstanding music starts to kick in. I get goosebumps every time I play that section, and I've played it a lot of times! Uncharted 2 experimented with the idea of slowing down the pace for a section where you walk around a small town in the Himalayan mountains. This consists of Drake awkwardly saying high to people, harassing kids, and smelling Yaks. The change of pace is actually very welcome, for if gives players a time to breathe after climbing up that train, and before running away from a tank(yep, that's the life of Nathan Drake). Naughty Dog even includes this type of thing in their future games like Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us. Soon after this mission, Nathan Drake and Tenzin (Tibetan speaking awesome guy) go parading in an ice gave. This is one of my favorite missions, because you watch these two characters bond and they can't even properly communicate. This is an example of how video games can stand up to films and TV. Naughty Dog has crafted such a great relationship between these characters(not just Tenzin and Drake, but the whole cast) proving that they are masters when it comes to storytelling.

They are also masters of getting Drake into ridiculous, but awesome, moments. Moments that cement themselves in your mind and always standout, no matter what type of gamer you are. I'm talking about those times when Drake is jumping from jeep to jeep on a mountain top, avoiding ever persistent helicopters,or surviving the wrath of Sully's mustache. These events are so well crafted that you forget that there is no way a regular human being would still be alive. The best scene in any Uncharted has got to be the train shootout. Drake has to fight his way down the longest train ever as its speeding across the mountainside. You can travel inside the train, on top, or on the side as you switch tactics on the long journey. Then that freaking helicopter comes out of no where and you have to avoid that while going against an army of men. Did I mention you are on a moving train! This is just one example of the crazy feats in Uncharted 2 and they are all, to say it plainly, so freaking cool!

There are different approaches to combat in terms of movement. Rarely you will find yourself behind the same cover for the duration of a gunfight. Nathan Drake will have to climb jump and move to survive. This makes every encounter a blast with the much more reliable shooting mechanics. But you don't have to go in guns blazing, because Uncharted 2 offers a stealthy option for almost every combat encounter.

Uncharted 2 Among Thieves does everything right, and is one of the best experiences on Playstation, so it deserves our top score of 9.9!


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