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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

If you have a PS3, you should own at least one of the Uncharted games. Honestly there isn't a whole lot of exclusives floating around nowadays. I've recently played through the first Uncharted and just wrapped up Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and walked away without feeling tired of the series. Naughty Dog started a good franchise and has managed to improve it with the second installment. If your having trouble choosing one, I would suggest Uncharted 2.

As most of you may already know Uncharted stars Nathan Drake, a treasure hunting mans man who has luck on his side. In essence take Indian Jones, mix him up with some Tomb Raider and in a very thin nutshell lies Uncharted. The story for Among Thieves I found to basically follow the same formula as the first game with the addition of a few new characters in the mix. Drake is asked from a old acquaintance to help find some hidden Marco Polo treasure, he meets a British lady friend name Chloe, they uncover a more valuable treasure, and race the bad guy to get to it first. Betrayal, the supernatural and adventure ensues. I would rather leave it at that. For me the story and presentation is what I enjoy most about these games and should be experienced untainted by my butchering of its narrative. Trust me it's entertaining.

Just like the first game, Uncharted 2 has a polished presentation and a fun story. Granted they can be a little simple and rather predictable, but it's how it all comes together that makes it all work. Naughty Dog has spared no expenses with making Uncharted more like a cinematic experience. The voice acting is plentiful and executed convincingly. The characters themselves actually seem to have some life to them. The story itself isn't a convoluted novel of 20 min cut-scenes and acts more like a popcorn action movie. It's quick, has lots of excitement, suspense and humor. The music in the game does a good job of capturing that epic adventure type of feel.

The gameplay is much more streamlined and moves along at a nicer pace than the first Uncharted. This was one of my issues with the first game. Many times I felt like you were being held up and forced to fight droves and droves of enemies for long periods of time. Uncharted 2 has for the most part has rectified this problem and you spend more time moving along and platforming. The level designs are just amazing and extremely fun to experience. The game uses dramatic camera angles and beautiful detailed environments to kick things up a notch. For example right off the bat in the first level of the game your challenged to climb up a train car that is dangling off a giant icy cliff. Every step of the way things are breaking off the car. You have to navigate your way up by using whatever you can grab in order to climb the car before it plummets to the chasm below. Multiple times you almost fall to your death or get smashed by falling debris. No, its not a quick time event and you won't find any in this game!

There were just so many points throughout the game where I just stopped to take in the view and appreciate the attention to detail and design. It's almost sad that most of the time your just leaping or blasting your way by it all. You're not going to spend a lot of time aimlessly wondering around since the game carefully guides into the right direction without feeling like your trapped into a liner path. The gunplay hasn't change much so you might run into a few issues with hit detection, especially in the head area of enemies. Sometimes a shot to the face acts more like a spit ball to these evil doers. When shooting isn't working out for you, there is always the options to duke it out with your foes and in Among Thieves they've added a few more moves to Drakes arsenal this time around. There is more variation with the combat and you can get into situations where an enemy will block your punch attack and at that point you have a brief amount of time to counter back. It feels good and makes the hand to hand combat more engaging. They also added some stealth moves to the game which are context sensitive depending on if your behind a guy or on a ledge for example. Its definitely fun to be hanging on a ledge, grab an enemies leg and send them on a one way trip to the chasm below. One of my favorites moves, is when your in the cover position against a wall and you catch an enemy as they're coming around a corner. At that point Drake will grab them, hurl them around the corner and bash their head into wall. You feel a little more bad ass after doing manly stuff like that. One good thing to note is that they removed all use of the six axis functionality in the game. No more trying to huck grenades and trying to balance yourself on logs with the controller. Its was a stupid idea for a game that constantly has your character on precarious ledges and with sick rock climbing skills that puts Stallone to shame in the movie Cliffhanger.

The cover system is still a major part of the game, and it works fairly well most of the time. Like in the first game your going to occasionally be fighting the cover system as your running and dodging bullets. The game does of good job of anticipating where your trying to go, but sometimes you might accidentally stick yourself to a wall or roll yourself out of cover into a hail storm of pain. It's a minor frustration that really doesn't hurt too much until you get your self into the online portion of the game.

The biggest addition to the game is the multiplayer. It seems in today's trends that every game has to have some form of a online multiplayer mode or it's crap. I don't subscribe to that mantra and don't really feel the game needed to include this feature. But it does help the longevity of the game. Personally, it's sort of a mixed bag. Your going to get your standard deathmatches, capture the flag type of events. But the mode that really stand out and are good fun is the Co-Op Arena modes. You can take up to two of your buddies online and complete Co-Op missions fighting and leaping your way past objectives and enemies. My personal favorite Co-Op mode is Gold Rush. This multiplayer mode challenges you with finding a treasure on the map and carrying it back to a set location. Each time your team successfully accomplish this task, a new treasure appears and the enemies become more difficult and more numerous. It get's frantic and really challenging. I'm not saying that the regular deathmatches etc. are bad, they're just mediocre. It helps that the muilitplayer level designs have lots of place to run, hide and jump, but the gunplay is what kills me—if you get my drift. It is extremely frustrating to unload a hail storm of bullets on someone and somehow they're still breathing, they turn around and manage to take you out. It just makes it feel a little dated—it reminds me of playing the original Medal of Honor on PC back in the day. You also run into instances where you get into a punching melee match with another player and 8 times out of 10 your both going to both kill each other at the same time. It's like reliving the end of Rocky III when Rocky and Apollo Creed knock each other out, but the end to that movie was actually awesome. Naughty Dog tries to give the multiplayer some customization by adding "Boosters" (essentially the same thing as perks in COD multiplayer) and includes a Machinima mode so you can watch the replays of your online matches. The control is a little limited for playing and rewinding the replay, but you can manipulate the camera, add effects, and take screen shots. Fun to dick around with, but nothing to write home about.

It's still a no brainer on this one. I'm giving this game Toast with Butter and Jam. If you have a PS3, play this game stupid.

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