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November 4, 2009
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
15/10/2009SonySonyNaughty Dog12-10
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Nathan Drake returns in Uncharted 2.
If you've had a PS3 for some time now then chances are you checked out the superb Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Developed by Naughty Dog the game was an indication of the PS3's true, and to that point mostly untapped, power. Even now, two years after release it remains one of the best games on the system. But times have moved on and Naughty Dog have completed their second game in the franchise, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

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Uncharted 2 has many new locations.
Down on his luck, fortune hunter Nathan Drake is lured back into the treacherous world of thieves and mercenary treasure-seekers he had sought to leave behind. When a mysterious artifact propels Drake on an expedition to find the legendary Himalayan valley of Shambhala, he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse against a fugitive war criminal who's after more than just the fabled riches of the lost city and the mysteries surrounding Marco Polo and his lost fleet. Caught in a web of deception and plunged into an increasingly deadly pursuit that tests the limits of his endurance, Drake will be forced to risk everything but has his luck finally run out?

In terms of gameplay those familiar with the first title will slip right back into place here with virtually the same mechanics. Hell, if you're onto a good thing why change it right? Played from a third person perspective the game gives you a swag of weapons, some grenades and plenty of athletic ability to hang onto ledges, jump wide gaps and perform diving rolls to avoid enemy gunfire.

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Nathan's new partner, and love interest, Chloe.
Actually there are some new gameplay elements to keep this title fresh. Certainly the biggest of these is the inclusion of stealth attacks. In a couple of parts of the game you will need to sneak up on enemies, and perform a stealth attack to take out the enemy silently. If you're hanging onto a ledge and an enemy walks nearby, pressing the square button will see Nathan grab him and toss him over the edge. You can use this technique through the majority of the game if you wish so it does add in a fresh element.

It's also possible to use a handgun or throw a grenade while hanging from a wall, ledge, or object within the world. Finally it's now possible for Nathan to pick up the propane (gas) tanks littered around the world, toss them towards the enemies, and then shoot them to make them explode. You'd better be careful though, while you're carrying the propane tanks you're pretty much a moving target for enemies too - especially in multiplayer.

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Preparing to take a few punches.
Actually, that's not all as there is another major gameplay change in this sequel, that being that for large chunks of the game Nathan is now joined by another, AI controlled, character, primarily a new Australian female companion, Chloe Frazer. She's also pretty handy with a weapon and traversing the lands, and you will often have to work together to get through various sections of the game. Will some old friends return as well? Well we won't spoil it for you with details, but let's just say that you should be happy.

As with the original title one big objective of this game is collecting treasures hidden around the various locations you'll travel to. By collecting treasures, or completing certain objectives you can purchase content at a store. This includes things like new skins for your characters, weapons, render modes (Black and White, Sepia, Next-Gen Filter), Art Galleries, Game Tweaks (such as infinite Ammo, No Gravity among others) and even a series of behind the scenes video clips. These video clips in particular are quite superb, especially the more technical videos. These bonuses really make you feel like you're getting good rewards for finding all the hidden items in the game.

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Hand-to-hand combat is key in Uncharted 2.
One of the most requested features for this sequel, and something we would have been pretty pissed off about if it wasn't included, is multi-player. Naughty Dog have gone all out to make sure this element is a key component to the game.

First of all Uncharted 2 includes three missions built around 3-player co-op gameplay. In this mode one person plays as Drake, another as Chloe and the third as Sullivan. When developing the co-op mode the developers didn't want to mess with the single player game, but have taken the same levels, re-worked them to enhance the multi-player experience and put them in as a separate set of missions. Players will have to work together to complete these missions - you may have to help your friends reach ledges higher up, or enemies that require two or three gamers working together to defeat. As well as that there game includes a 3-player co-op mode where you need to defeat swarms of every increasing numbers of enemies.

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Uncharted 2's multi-player mode.
If you're not into co-op then you will be pleased to hear that up to 10 players can compete in team based game modes such as Team Deathmatch, Plunder which is like Capture the Flag but with a treasure placed in the center of the map which each team must get back to their safe, Elimination which sees each team trying to eliminate the other with no respawning until each round is complete and Chain Reaction which sees the teams trying to capture points on the map.

The multi-player game is very impressive. There is a bit of a wait as the game searches for other players, but when you get into the game it is generally a very lag free, and exciting experience. Gamers have two boost slots where you can allocate extra abilities or features for your character, while it's also possible to select weapons or your characters appearance in the multi-player modes.

Gamers will also be pleased to know that Naughty Dog will be releasing some downloadable content for the game which will certainly include new multi-player maps and possibly characters, weapons and game modes. The first batch of this downloadable content is promised in time for Christmas so keep an eye out.

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Another multi-player screen from Uncharted 2.

So what about the issues. Surely this game can't be perfect in every single regard can it? Well it's pretty damn close but if we are to nitpick then we have to admit we were a little disappointed in the trophy list which is nigh on identical to that in the previous game, but besides a single trophy neglects to offer anything for the multiplayer modes in the game. With a game time of around 10 hours the single player mode is decent enough, but a couple of extra hours could have pushed the value title just that little bit further. Finally while the weapon selection is good I would have loved to see either some more weapons, or the ability to upgrade or modify them. These are all such small issues in an otherwise stunning title.

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There will be plenty of cut-scenes.
This is the best looking video game we have ever played. Period.

That pretty much sums up our feelings on the stunning 720p visuals in this game. From the opening moments with Nathan Drake waking up in the train crash and then scrambling to safety you know this is something special. The gorgeous snow effects, the brilliant explosions and fires, the destroyed city location, the wonderful jungles and brilliant lighting effects all impress. Texturing is also stunning and we're sure that Uncharted 2 uses up more space on the Blu-Ray disc then almost every other game ever released. Cut-scenes are handled with as much attention to detail as you would expect from a major motion picture with the smallest gestures, camera angles and the locations all second to none. This really is a sensational looking game.

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Nathan hiding from the guards.
Another of the most impressive aspects to this game is the superb depth of field and focusing effects which sees the focus sharpen on the objects or areas of the game world which you are currently targeting while the objects either in the foreground or background, depending where you're aiming, go out of focus slightly. It's a brilliant effect, brilliantly implemented. Finally the animation and yet again, there is no disappointments here. When Nathan Drake or any characters move around they have fixed animations, but if you change from one to another the PS3's SPU's actually calculate intermediate frames of animation making each movement very smooth.

By far our biggest complaint with the original Uncharted was the amount of screen-tearing which was quite frequent, and quite obvious, especially when rotating the camera over a distant landscape. It seems that Naughty Dog have overcome this issue with no screen tearing evident during our play throughs (yes plural as we've completed the game twice now), or at least minimised it so much it wasn't even noticed.

Uncharted 2 is the very first game that we have ever given a score of 100% in any category. Will other games ever surpass it? Of course they will given time, but we have never seen a game so gorgeous on any platform to date and as such this is the first time we are giving a perfect score.

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Incredible scenes in the Himalayas.
On a technical level Naughty Dog have blown this game out of the park with not only Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, but also DTS 5.1 audio, Linear PCM 5.1 audio and even Linear PCM 7.1 as well. No matter how good your setup is this will sound a treat with great directional use, and some brilliant effects with different weapons, and room-shaking explosions. The only extremely minor change I would love to see in future is a change to the audio when picking up weapons and ammo, it's always the same. Returning from the original game is Greg Edmonson who has yet again created a score which is every bit as memorable as the very best movies out there. If you're walking past a shop and you hear this game, you'll instantly recognise which game it's from.

By far the biggest positive to this game is the stunning voice work, and indeed the script as well. The characters each have their own personalities, and some great one-liners at times and not once was there a groan inducing moment or something that felt out of place for the characters, or the game. Just wait for Chloe's "You'll miss this ass" line - superb.

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Detail impresses as Nathan hangs around.
Never have I given 100% to a game since starting this site over a decade ago, and I won't be doing that here except in the category of graphics, but overall this is probably as close as a game has ever come. Over the last couple of years the PS3 has had some great games, not least of which was the previous title in this franchise, but Uncharted 2 is the first PS3 exclusive killer-app that has mass market appeal, pushes the system to its very limits, and has the gameplay to match. If you have a PS3 then there is absolutely no reason not to head down to your local game shop (or our links above) to pick up this stunning, gorgeous, entertaining, engrossing, title. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a "must-have" game. Now, back to more treasure hunting...

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThe PS3, nor any other game ever, have seen visuals like this.
SOUNDNaturally the music and effects are superb, but the voice acting is the real highlight.
GAMEPLAYIt's fast, relentless, entertaining with a good mix of action, platforming and puzzles.
VALUEThe single-player game is perhaps a tad short, but multi-player will keep you coming back.
OVERALLUncharted 2 is quite possibly the best video game we've played in years, and is certainly on a technical level. If you don't buy this game then you're really missing out on the best the PS3 has to offer. Sensational!

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