Developer/s: Naughty Dog
Platform/s: PlayStation 3
Genre: Action, adventure, stealth
Vintage: October 2009
An artefact found in one of Marco Polo’s lost ships leads fortune hunter Nathan Drake to the Himalayas on the trail of the Cintamani Stone. But he’s not the only one searching for it. Hunted by an army of wild mercenaries, Nathan and his allies must risk everything to unravel history’s darkest secret…
Graphics: 5/5 – With visuals that rival Metal Gear Solid 4 (though there seems to be a lot of debate on various online forums as to which game looks superior, even I can’t quite decide) the sequel to the acclaimed Uncharted – Drake’s Fortune is a graphical masterpiece. It’s not just the lighting, textures or environments that make Uncharted 2 look so amazing (however I do think the textures are superior to MGS4) – the camera angles that the developers
incorporated for the action sequences is what makes this game so great to play or even watch. The complexity of the visuals (fighting on a moving train, chase sequences through the Himalayas or escaping from a Hind D assault) are of Hollywood standards and the experience is so immersive that oftentimes it’s easy to forget that you’re playing a game as opposed to watching a film. Many players will be pleased to know that Uncharted 2 is almost devoid of quick-time events (apart from certain close-range hand-to-hand attacks), had no noticeable glitching or screen tearing to speak of and it is also one of the few games to use Screen Space Ambient Occlusion. What makes this game so superior to the first installment is that rather than being isolated to a single island (for the most part), Uncharted 2 is a globe-trotting adventure so Naughty Dog really get to show off their Naughty Dog 2.0 Engine with the myriad of different locations you will find yourself in.
Gameplay: 5/5 – Navigating Nathan Drake though the world of Uncharted is a breeze and somehow Naughty Dog have managed to make an already near-perfect navigation/combat system even better. As expected, there are a myriad of weapons at your disposal – handguns, rifles, automatic weapons, grenades and so forth, all of which are dead easy to use thanks to the intuitive control system. Hold down L1 to aim your selected weapon and press R1 to fire, pressing down L2 will ready a grenade and releasing L2 will allow you to throw it. Press left or right on the D-Pad
to select your weapon (you can only carry two at a time so choose your weapons wisely) and press down to reload. As I previously mentioned, you are able to engage in hand-to-hand combat as with the first game as well as sneak up on your opponents and take them out silently Solid Snake style. Though the enemies can be quite formidable, cranking up the difficulty will reveal some brilliant AI as enemies will try to outflank you or make the best use of the cover offered to them as you attempt to take them out. There is also an expansive online multiplayer mode as players can partake in both competitive and co-operative modes of play. Multiplayer includes Death-match, Plunder, Elimination and plenty more. Once again, various treasures are hidden throughout the game (a total of 100 pieces) which I’m sure all fortune hunters will be happy to search for and once you’ve completed a chapter you are able to go back to it within the menu screen just in case you didn’t find all the hiding places the first time around. Being an adventure game, needless to say there will be puzzles to solve (which are usually fun) and as always – plenty of climbing.
Characters: 5/5 – With the sequel returns familiar faces as well as some new ones, Nathan, Sully and Elena return and thankfully the original voice actors reprise their roles. The new antagonist Zoran Lazarevic, a Soviet war criminal is your main rival in the game however newcomer/femme fatale and love interest Chloe Frazer acts as the ‘Cat Woman’ type character whereby you’re never really sure whether she’s trying to kiss you or kill you. What makes the characters in Uncharted 2 so brilliant is that the voice acting never sounds forced or silly and character interactions are pulled off wonderfully, be it playful banter between Nathan and Elena (which is genuinely humorous) or death threats from Zoran.
Soundtrack: 4/5 – Though Uncharted 2 lacks a truly epic score, the Indiana Jones-style adventure themes complement the game perfectly and no tune sounds out-of-place, creating an immersive atmosphere.
Lifespan: 5/5 – The main game will give you about 12 – 15 hours worth of gameplay and it is a longer, more expansive adventure than the first game and you will want to replay levels in an effort to obtain all of the hidden treasure. What really adds to the longevity of this game is the online multiplayer mode which can potentially provide hundreds of hours worth of gameplay.
Overall: 5/5 – Uncharted 2 is one of the definitive games for the PlayStation 3, it’s no wonder this game was Game of the Year 2009. Uncharted 2 oozes style from every pore, though the storyline may seem a bit contrived at times, the graphics, gameplay, presentation and execution of the plot more than make up for this minor short-coming. This is a fantastic must-have game for every PS3 owner out there.