Saint's Spoiler Free Review Of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - User Reviews - www.GameInformer.com
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Saint's Spoiler Free Review Of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Welcome to my very first "official" Game Informer review. I say official, because I have on a number of occasion's blogged about a game after finishing it, but I wouldn't necessarily call those reviews. I seldom, if ever, attach any sort of score to a game when blogging about it. So, why now? Why post a review in this fashion? Well, the truth is I am posting a blog about the "Game Informer User Reviews" feature, and it would be a bit hypocritical of me to do so having never posted even a single review. Frankly, the majority of User Reviews are substandard and offer little value to the community. That might sound harsh, but if you have spent any amount of time sifting through the reviews then you will no doubt agree with me. Don't get me wrong, there are some extremely talented and thorough game reviewers - guys like Samuari Zero and Craigaleg. But the bulk of them, not so much.

Anyway, I am doing this in an effort to grow and strengthen the User Reviews community much like we enjoy in the blogging forum and make it a more valuable feature for the community. The benefit of the User Reviews feature is the freedom to format the blog in whatever form or fashion you choose. In my experience, and my personal preference, a review should offer more than a one sentence thought on why the game was good or bad. If you plan to post your own reviews, develop a standard you are comfortable with and give it your all. I chose to mirror the format used by the Game Informer staff, but added a few elements of my own that I think are important. So, read on and take a look at my first official review.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Game Informer Score: 10/10

Reviewed By: Andrew Reiner

"I did not tell half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed."

Concept:

UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves is the story of Nathan Drake, a fortune-hunter with a shady reputation and an even shadier past who is lured back into the treacherous world of thieves and mercenary treasure-seekers. Drake embarks on a journey that will push him to his physical, emotional and intellectual limits to discover the real truth behind the lost fleet of Marco Polo and the legendary Himalayan valley of Shambhala.

This is truly the Indiana Jones game some of us have always dreamed of playing, minus the whip and fedora.

Graphics:

While the character models aren't the best you've ever seen, they're still wonderfully animated with no glaring flaws or miscues with facial animations. The game environments are all wonderfully created, believable in every sense and spectacular to look at. When you step out and view Shambhala for the first time, it is a heavenly view and the kind of place you want to retire and live out the rest of your days. The game is not as visually stunning as say...Crysis 2 or Rage, but remember the game is older, having been released back this time in 2009. The graphics are good enough, you'll be pleased.

Sound:

The sound is adequate, but really this is not one of those games where sound can make or break the game like it can in, say...Dead Space, where sound is critical to establishing the fear factor. Uncharted 2 obviously utilizes sound and it's done well, but it wasn't as important as it is in other games. In Dead Space, sound is pervasive throughout the entire game; in Uncharted 2 there are a few places where it is important, and it is implemented well, but there are other scenes where you're more worried about hanging on to the ledge for dear life than you are the sound effects or music track that's playing.

Playability:

With the exception of a few freezes, playability was more than adequate. The control scheme was intuitive and easy to use. The puzzles were sufficiently challenging but not overly difficult to the point of seething frustration. The game was perfectly balanced, wonderfully designed and flawlessly executed.

Entertainment:

Everything about this game is fun resulting in an awesomely entertaining experience for the gamer. The game discreetly steers you along the path, but in a way where you feel like you're in an open ended world making all the decisions. Even the combat sequences gives you the option in most scenarios to take either a stealthily or tactical approach - alert everybody with guns blazing or quietly dispatch them with melee attacks one at a time. The game is beautiful and in my mind, proves that video games are art.

Replay:

The game does have a multiplayer experience, but from the singleplayer story mode perspective, I don't think I would replay it again anytime soon, except maybe to show off some of the action scenes. There are a number of achievements to tackle and treasure chests to locate, but this wasn't a factor in me completing the game or going back to replay it again. Once I finish a game and the surprise element is gone, I don't find games as interesting once you know what to expect.

Highs:

Everything! No, really. The game is exceptional and I don't think I have ever played a game with such a variety and so many breath taking action sequences. The real gem is the characters, specifically Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher; and their dialogue. Nathan Drake is far and away the best character I have ever witnessed in a video game, and as odd as it sounds, Nathan Drake is the most normal hero you'll ever come across and the most likable too. Elena Fisher proves that you can have a female character that's smart and charming without being overly endowed and scantily clad. She's a girly girl, but can hold her own in a fight and saves Drake on more than one occasion. The chemistry between the two feels very natural and real, so when you throw them into a compelling setting, it's a wonderful storytelling experience comparable to what you'd find in book or film. The dialogue is exceptional, from witty one-liners, playful banter and sharp exchanges often laced with sarcasm that occur between the protagonist and antagonist characters.

Nathan Drake: "You don't think they're couple, do you? They're not a couple."

[Talking about Elena and Jeff]

The action scenes are phenomenal. The jumping and climbing mechanics are exceptional and unless you've played the game, the story is probably not what you are expecting...and I mean that in a good, "what the heck just happened" kind of way.

Lows:

The game is near flawless, but not perfect. I'm new to the Playstation 3 so I don't know if this was a product of the game or the system, but on four separate occasions the game locked up as it transitioned from cutscene back to actual game play, requiring a reboot to restore. Thankfully, in each instance, progress was saved and reloading the game advanced gameplay past the cutscene. There was no real impact other than it being a minor annoyance.

The game overused the scene where either your character or one of the non-player characters (NPC) would make a valiant leap between a gap, fall short, but was saved at the last second as someone reached over the ledge and grabbed their hand. It happened so frequently that by the time you witness it in one of the final scenes, it wasn't nearly as dramatic. It's a great sequence, don't get me wrong, but when you see it happen time and time again, there is no real fear you're going to plummet to your death. It's like you always know someone is going to save you.

I question the grenade mechanics in this game. If I was in combat, I could throw a grenade at an enemy and as long as it landed in close proximity to him, the splash damage would typically take him out. However, if I strategically located myself behind a crate, waited for three soldiers to be standing within an arm's length of one another and threw the grenade at their feet, when it detonated it seemed to just startle them and not really cause any damage. It was more of a noise maker. It was almost like un-alerted soldiers were invulnerable or at least had increased health. I pretty much quit trying to start the fight by catching them off guard and lobbing a grenade at them.

"They took the pin."

There is a part where you and Elena are on a jet ski, which sounds cool, but the way it is implemented almost forces you to have Drake stop driving in order to have Elena shoot the bad guys or explosive barrels. It was a clumsy and awkward experience of what could have been a thrilling opportunity. 

These are very minor grievances and some players realistically might not even notice these miniscule issues. I'm only mentioning them because I did. They didn't detract from the overall experience but they do give me a little bit of justification as to why I didn't give the game a perfect score, something I've never done.

Conclusion:

It will be one of the great icons of its time and is one of the best games you'll ever play.

Blooper:

I don't know how many there are and if anyone else noticed this, but there is a scene where Nathan Drake is wearing the ring around his neck, the scene switches to a different view and he's not wearing it, but then when the camera angle changes again, he is.

Comments
  • Mod

    I love this game, still to this day.  I do think the sound is important in this game, for me anyway it was one of those games where I truly noticed the distinct sound of each effect/area.  The other day I was playing coop with a new set of headphones that have 7.1 "virtual" surround and I was blown away.  The water, the wind, the leaves, the bird chirping, all of it was distinct and not used over and over.  Also the music for this series is awesome in my opinion.

    My biggest gripe about Uncharted 2 is that it appears to be an awesome platformer/action game, but the platforming is pretty lackluster.  It looks impressive as an observer, but if you are playing, there isn't a ton of skill involved.  I know this isn't some breakthrough statement I just made, but there isn't much else to complain about in this game.  Guess i never noticed the grenade unbalance, I usually blow myself up when trying to use grenades!

    Mojo score--9.25 buttered biscuits

  • Good review Saint, and as I have made clear on numerous occasions, I love this game. However, I have to point out a mistake in your review. There was no jet ski scene in Uncharted 2. That occurred in Uncharted 1. Yes, that scene was not very good because you had to stop every time enemies were near, but that's why Uncharted 1 isn't nearly as great as Uncharted 2. So yea, Uncharted 2=no jet skis. Good review otherwise.

  • Umm....so I don't remember the jet ski scene. That might be from the first Uncharted. I played through the game five times, it may just be my mind going but like I said I don't remember it. Great review! Yes the "terrifying" jumps aren't really that scary. My least favorite part of this game is the entire level that is simply jumping around the snowy place with all the gears. When I was getting the plat on this game going through this part to get the hidden treasures was nerve racking beyond belief.

  • Mod

    @Indiejones and jacktheglueman - OMG, you're absolutely right. Thanks for pointing out that error. I played the games back to back and must've gotten my bearings mixed up or wires crossed. Regardless, it was still a horrible set piece. Thanks again.

  • Mod

    Interesting and well-written review. I hope that the User Review system gets an overhaul so that it can be optimized- a way to remove spam reviews is a must.