So after finishing up with Uncharted 4, and really loving it, I decided to go ahead and pick up the Nathan Drake Collection for PS4 as well. It includes Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. I played about an hour of Drake’s Fortune before deciding that the game hasn’t aged very well, therefore I won’t be doing a review of Drake’s Fortune until I decide that I want to finish it which could possibly be never.
Instead, I decided to go ahead and play Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. I ultimately did myself a disservice by not playing this game on the PS3 back in its heyday. The remaster on PS4 is very good, I must say that the graphical fidelity doesn’t hold up as much as it used to but I won’t be knocking it too much for that. The character models still look good and the environments look even better. Uncharted 2 was a technical achievement at the time of its release and it still holds up very well.
With that said, I’ll start the actual review. Uncharted 2 is really good game, but the game feels like an entirely different beast when compared to Uncharted 4. Is it a fair comparison? Not really, there’s 1 game, almost 7 years and a new generation of consoles between these two but unfortunately it’s my only frame of reference at this point.
It all starts innocently enough; with Nate appearing to have a gunshot wound, he clambers out of his seat on the train. But the train is actually hanging off a cliff! Oh Nate, you always find yourself in these ridiculous situations!
Honestly, the scene is super enjoyable and is a good introduction to the climbing mechanics of the game. The game wastes no time in throwing your right into the action, with Nate attempting to climb the dangling train with what little strength he has left to muster. Introducing you to the somewhat subtle actions of Drake as you’re climbing, it communicates all the information you need to know without explicitly telling you in a big, pop-up message box on-screen.
These ideas are of course keeping with the idea that Uncharted is a very cinematic experience, in fact the most the HUD will communicate is almost strictly related to weapons or when you need to perform some quick-time prompts so that the big bad guy doesn’t punch you to death. The difficulty tends to lend itself to this as well, with normal being the right amount of difficulty to make you cautious but willing to take risks.
I did end up playing the game on Hard; it made the firefights a bit more tense and strategic. Depending on what you’re looking for in Uncharted, the Hard difficulty might not be for you if you’re looking to just experience the story but still have a reasonable amount of fun during action sections.
Uncharted 2 does tend to be more action than adventure. That’s where my biggest qualm with it becomes most apparent. Uncharted 4 seemed to strike the perfect balance of action and adventure, whereas Uncharted 2 is majority action. Does it do the action well, at least? Yes, it really does. It is a superb action game in that the shooting is very refined; the controls do get a bit frustrating at times in regards to the cover system though. You’ll find yourself frustrated more than a few times because Drake decided to jump out of cover or off a cliff.
How is the story then? Well, it’s probably the weakest part of the whole game. It centers on finding the Cintamani stone, a theoretical stone found by Marco Polo in Shambhala. The story will take you to Borneo in search of Marco Polo’s lost fleet, to temples in Kathmandu and the snowy mountains of Tibet. The locations are wonderful; with the latter being the best parts of the whole game.
That’s a pretty simplified synopsis of the whole story, because I have to admit it didn’t grab my attention or give me anything super memorable. Antagonists of the game are pretty one-dimensional. Harry Flynn is a douchebag jerk who can’t seem to find his head from his ass; Lazarevic is bad guy because being bad will give him POWER, seriously the guy references Pol Pot and Stalin as “men of power”. Chloe is a bit more interesting, she has the hots for Nathan but will pretty much do anything to save her own skin even if it means she can’t have a piece of that Nate anymore.
Victor “Goddamn” Sullivan is the best part of the cast, and that’s because of his awesome banter with Nate. Elena seems to just be along for the ride. Tenzin and Karl Schafer seem ultimately forgettable, but Karl Schafer has a much darker past that was somewhat unexpected.
You’re probably thinking “Oh, he just really doesn’t like this game.” But that’s not really true; I think Uncharted 2 is a good game! But that’s all it is: Good. That’s not to say it hasn’t aged well, in fact it’s aged awesomely. The graphical fidelity is still good enough to make you say “Dang, that looks pretty good” at points.
The problem with Uncharted 2, an action-adventure game, is the adventure. Some of the ideas are good, and I really love the take on classic history and uncovering hidden mysteries that Marco Polo had tried so hard to hide. But ultimately, the game falls flat on a big part of its promise.