Charted!

Originally Published 15 April 2010

Being a multi-platform owner, I get certain advantages. One of these advantages is the ability to play the platform-exclusive titles for each system. Most recently, this meant that I played through Uncharted 2: Among Thieves–a PS3 exclusive released a few months ago. I actually finished the game on Sunday, but after looking at the trophy list ended up deciding to take a shot at the Platinum Trophy which ended up requiring me to beat the game on the two highest difficulties. I finished the second of those runs last night.

For those who missed it the first time around, the Uncharted series centers around Nathan Drake, a self-reported descendent of Sir Francis Drake and something akin to a treasure hunter by trade. This time around, he has been pulled into a scheme to find Marco Polo’s lost ships and the treasure that was presumably within them. As with most things in Drake’s life, this quickly degenerates into people shooting at him and buildings collapsing while he is in or on them.

Gameplay wise, it is very similar to the first Uncharted. It seems to use mostly the same engine which, despite the intervening time, is still very impressive. The gameplay is mostly of two forms: Prince of Persia style platforming and cover-based gunfighting sequences. I think this iteration of the series manages to blend the two styles of play somewhat better than the former in that it makes use of the platforming mechanic to create interesting encounters. For example, at one point, you are forced to carry out a gunfight while hanging off a telephone pole and scrambling around the various signs on it to maintain your cover. At another point, your entry into a room full of enemies is made via a scalable wall at the end of a platforming section. This gives you interesting retreat scenarios and greately enhanced cover, but limits your ability to make use of all of your equipment.

Perhaps the most interesting scenario, however, is the chase level. In this scene, you are in the back of a flatbed truck in a convoy. The enemies have spotted you on the truck and so enemies in other trucks are shooting at you, your truck, your ally’s truck and basically anything else nearby. In order to survive, you have to jump from truck to truck, clearing enemies as you go, so that the you don’t end up flying over a cliff in one of the trucks as it is taken out by your foes. The entire scene looks like it was shot for an action movie and is incredibly fun.

There is very little that I can really complain about in the game: the acting is extremely well done; the gameplay is mostly solid; and the plot is interesting enough to keep me playing. Perhaps my only complaint is due to my play through on the highest difficulty (which they call “Crushing”). On the highest difficulty, due to the increadible ease of dying, all of the relatively minor control flaws become glaringly apparent. Every time that I died due to the game refusing to make a corner transition properly or shift from one kind of cover to another made me spew curses. Luckily, the lower difficulties (even Hard) tend to be forgiving enough that minor control issues are unnoticable.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: 1!

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