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Uncharted returns with the release of its second instalment Uncharted 2 Among Thieves. Although the ensemble cast is changed, Nathan Drake is back to solve the mystery of Marco Polo's last voyage. Uncharted 2 Among Thieves updates the delights of the first game and brings them to the now expanded audience on the PlayStation 3. Again mixing intense gunplay, platforming and cinematic dialogue, Uncharted 2 now stretches the PS3 by adding new stealth movement and parkour style climbing. This is topped off with the brand new co-operative and competitive multiplayer modes. Uncharted 2 Among Thieves set the standard once more for PlayStation 3 titles.
Anyone who played Uncharted Drakes Fortune will know how well executed and convincing an experience the developer Naughty Dog created. Coming back to the series with a much better understanding of the PlayStation 3 architecture, not to mention more time and investment from the previous game's success, they have really been able to pull out all the stops.
Uncharted 2 Among Thieves is essentially an over the shoulder shooting game on the PS3. Set pieces and intelligent camera controls combine to create an authentic action film aesthetic. Unusual for a game though is the between action cut-scenes that are as compelling as the player controlled sections. Whereas I usually quickly reach for the skip button, here I was more than happy to watch all the dialogue.
In addition to their acknowledged high production values, Naughty Dog has also addressed criticisms. Uncharted Drakes Fortune on the PlayStation 3 released alongside Assassin's Creed on the 360 and PS3. Its previously acceptable movement and climbing paled in comparison with Assassin's Creed free roaming style. Uncharted 2 Among Thieves has rebuilt the game's handling of environmental interaction. Nathan is now able to freely flow in and out of spaces, climb walls and take up cover.
This not only makes the game feels more coherent, but also opens up new tactics and strategies for players. These stealth and parkour (free-running) moves can be employed not only by the player but also the enemy Artificial Intelligence which has also had attention. Enemies are now much more aware of the player, even to the point of being granted peripheral vision.
Uncharted 2 Among Thieves is quoted to use three times more of the PS3's processing power than the original. This enables them to create a more interactive world. Moving through levels, players are aware that the space around them responds to their presence. Branches break, walls give way and artifacts shatter as Nathan traverses the terrain.
The addition of co-operative multiplayer on the PlayStation 3 and online multiplayer via PlayStation Network rounds off the sort of delivery reminiscent of Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 console. The co-op multiplayer accommodates three players - as Nathan, Sully and Chloe - to face tailored gunfights, platforming, and teamwork-puzzles. The competitive multiplayer is a larger affair where ten players go head to head in four competitive modes - Death match, Plunder, Elimination and Chain Reaction.
I had forgotten the sort of emotional connection Naughty Dog created between the player and their characters. Spending a bit of time with Nathan felt like discovering an old friend. The gameplay, dialogue and mechanics all work together to engage the player. I loved the moment Chloe (love interest this time around) meets Elena from Uncharted Drakes Fortune who introduces herself as 'last year's model' with a knowing glint in her eye. Sexual tensions ensues.
While the first game had to, at times, convince players through the weight of story and voice work, Uncharted 2 Among Thieves has less to worry about. The slight movement issues are fixed and free flowing, and the offering is fleshed out with both co-operative and competitive multiplayer modes.
Uncharted Drakes Fortune was a special game for those who played it through. Uncharted 2 Among Thieves takes this seed of excellence and shouts it from the roof tops. The PlayStation 3, in the hands of developer Naughty Dog, is really starting to show its worth.
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