REVIEW – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Any excuse for not owning a PS3 just left town.
Publisher Sony Developer Naughty Dog Release Date 16 October Price £49.99 Players 1-10 Genre Adventure Supports 720p, PlayStation Network, Sixaxis, DualShock 3 Age Rating 16+ Website www.unchartedthegame.com
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of the best games released on any console, ever. Right, now that’s out of the way it’s a lot easier to get on with things. The first Uncharted game, Drake’s Fortune, was released on a wave of muted hype. Don’t get us wrong, there was definitely fanfare and people knew the game existed, but the fantastical worlds of alien marauders and mystical lands available elsewhere meant it was generally overlooked – dismissed, even – as a Tomb Raider clone. This worked both for and against Among Thieves; it meant the sequel didn’t have a weight of expectation on its shoulders like the Lara Croft franchise, nor did people truly expect a sequel to be a massive world-beater. The follow-up to 2007’s somewhat sleeper hit had become marginalised.
Then we saw it. The teasers came, the trailers followed and the gameplay movies blew us away. While we were busy looking the other way, Naughty Dog had just sat down and got on with things, and managed to craft something that genuinely impressed just about everyone who saw it – rare in a world of jaded hacks and cynical journalists (and, of course, the internet). It soon turned from a murmur into a roar and the runaway hype machine suddenly went into full gear: ‘THIS WILL BE THE BEST GAME ON PS3!’ they said, ‘IT LOOKS SPIFFY’, we said, ‘WANT’, the internets said. We began to get worried, as anyone would when the foaming-mouthed propaganda gets so out of hand, that the game couldn’t possibly live up to expectations – that characters we held so close to our hearts might end up in a dud. So it’s intensely gratifying that Among Thieves lives up to the lofty expectations that were thrust upon it, and it’s testament to Naughty Dog’s ability that it has managed to get so much out of the (apparently difficult-to-code-for) PS3.
Among Thieves tells the story of our favourite (this time more bearded) slipshod heroic rogue, Nathan Drake, as he sets out on the path to find the Cintamani Stone – a huge mythical sapphire worth billions of dollars, located in the (also mythical) kingdom of Shambhala, sometimes known as Shangri-La. Whereas in the last game he was following the trail of his ancestor Sir Francis Drake, this time he’s out investigating the mysterious disappearance of dozens of ships and hundreds of people under the command of Marco Polo, which Drake and his chums believe has something to do with the kingdom and the Stone. We don’t want to go into much more as it will ruin the story – needless to say, things go a bit awry, double crosses come and go, people die, things blow up and a healthy level of Indiana Jones-style cynicism will get you nowhere. The story actually picks up about halfway through, with flashbacks taking up the first half of the game before it meets itself in the middle and carries on. It’s not exactly the most original of techniques, but it works perfectly and – with the situation Drake is in at the beginnimiddle of the game – you really do want to progress to find out why he’s there and what will happen later.