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"Uncharted 2: Among Thieves"

10/30/09

After giving the original game, "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune", a run three weeks ago, I was excited to play the sequel even though I thought that the game could have easily taken 2-4 hours off the single-player running time by cutting out some repetitive elements.  The sequel did not learn many lessons, and it somehow squeezes even more ridiculous, over-the-top moments into its 10-hour single-player game.  But, it is just SO gorgeous graphically that the game should be played, and the addition of online multiplayer is a great idea to help round out the product and make it replayable for the few days I have in-between "Call of Duty" releases.

In the game's story mode, our man Nathan Drake is back in another triple-crossing, globetrotting scenario.  Hundreds of soldiers stand in the way of this quest, which is somehow tied to another magical treasure (this time, in the form of a city and a tree of life), and of course it is tied to Nathan's relationships with not one, but two hot women who also know how to handle a firearm.  The dialogue writing and the voice acting in the "Uncharted" games are quite good, so even walking around the game environments is funny because there are mini-trigger points that drive conversations between Nathan and whoever he's with at the time.

Like the last game, the story is broken into three areas:

  • Action: like the last game, you will be shocked at how many times you'll be walking around a plaza, 20 soldiers with body armor will show up randomly, and you've got to smoke them all out.  Moving from cover point to cover point while taking out guys is still satisfying, but the AI still does things like, say, not hear you as you run towards them from an angle to bang them over the head with the butt of a rifle.  The addition of some stealthy elements is not done that well; suffice it to say, "Metal Gear Solid" shouldn't have anything to worry about from an AI point of view.
  • Puzzles:  I thought the puzzles in the last game were disappointing, and in the sequel, they are easier and there's less of them.  I like a good puzzle, so not having any worth your time kind of blows.  One wonders why the developers even bothered here; in this game, they are easy and they take longer to complete, so even when you see how to solve a puzzle, it takes 10 minutes of game time to walk your character around to pull all the switches/move all the mirrors/etc.
  • Wall climbing:  I'll say what I said last time about this element of the "Uncharted" games:  there are sequences where you have to guide Drake through a series of "jump up to that ledge, then jump to that vine, then swing to that pipe" exercises that no sane human being would ever attempt, even under duress.  There were times that I was actually laughing while this was going on; it just didn't feel right for a guy to risk his life to get to an open window, but, there you are.  Now, in the sequel, I will give the developers this--they acknowledge some of this ridiculosity when, late in the game, both Drake and one of his female accomplices utters lines like "If I have to jump onto one more ledge...", as if the process ever made sense.

Multiplayer is fun, particularly the three-player arena and objective co-op modes; I like working as a team to fend off bad guys, and the teamwork process really does drive the need to work together, something that team deathmatch game types never achieve.  There's a money system used to buy perks once you have been playing through enough hours; this won't set any new benchmarks in online play, and the PS3 online system still sucks at matchmaking, but otherwise, this is good stuff.

I got a little too excited and paid full price for this game; it probably would have been better as a rental, but it's still a great addition to the PS3 library.  Hopefully, the next game will shorten its length and be a bit more varied in its delivery.

Rating:  $40

 

Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?  justin@bellviewmovies.com

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either half.com or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 11/05/09