Published on October 20th, 2009 | by prime1
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Summary: A marvellous achievement that sets a new benchmark in both storytelling and technical prowess
It’s incredibly difficult to display your enthusiasm for a title like Uncharted 2 without coming across as being full of hyperbole. Such is the nature of the industry (and human nature as a whole), any game that achieves an overwhelming critical response – and particularly one that’s platform exclusive, too – is likely to attract the wrath of many a gamer post-release, as a select few accuse overly enamoured reviewers as simply being suckered into the hype. In some cases, that backlash may well be accepted.
Was GTA IV genuinely worthy of some of the titles of which it was graced? In hindsight, possibly not. But among Thieves is. It’s a game genuinely deserving of the highest possible praise; a game that expands wholeheartedly on the original’s worthy, if imperfect framework; a game that seamlessly fuses elements from multiple genres – shooting, platforming and puzzle solving – into one cohesive whole, and a game that has all qualities of a five-star action flick – suspense, charm, emotion, exhilaration, a compelling narrative and some award-winning performances from a legion of the best voice actors in the business. It’s simply a journey that must be played – nay, experienced by everyone.
By the end of the 12 hour adventure you’ll have experienced laughter, fear, and maybe even shed a few tears. You’ll have felt genuine hatred for Zoran Lazarevic, one of the greatest videogame baddies to have ever graced our screens, and formed an emotional bond with a character of whom you know very little – never understand. You’ll be enchanted by the on-screen chemistry between Drake and Elena – herself now even more of a ‘Miss Independent’ character than the one displayed in Drake’s Fortune. Their relationship in Among Thieves makes every other attempt in the medium look pitiable, as the two bounce one-liners back and forth off each other, form an Ico/Yorda-like bond and gradually come to terms with their love for one another despite the pressure of a rival love-interest. That they’re the greatest partnership we’ve seen since Jak & Daxter – another of Naughty Dog’s much-loved creations, lest we forget – is undeniable.
The pacing and direction of Among Thieves, too, is unrivalled, with Naughty Dog displaying their experience and maturity with incredible method. Where Drake’s Fortune would slow things down after a heart-racing fight atop a moving train or a terrifying battle with a tank by way of throwing in additional puzzles of overly long climbing sections, Among Thieves takes the player on a heartfelt tour through a secluded Tibetan community; the truly photo-realistic view atop a sunny mountain peak heightening the experience tenfold. Just like the countless other scenarios within Among Thieves it’s an amazingly cinematic moment.
Indeed, with Among Thieves, Naughty Dog has cemented itself as one of, if not the leading storytellers in the entertainment industry, and established the amiable Drake as an icon that deserves to be regarded as highly as Solid Snake or, of course, Lara Croft but as well as that, they’ve established themselves as one of the greatest videogame developers of all time. Among Thieves may well be a culmination of ideas to come before it, but the level of polish and characterization is such that it’s genuinely difficult to find fault as you run, leap and climb your way around various regions of Nepal. That Among Thieves features a multiplayer component good enough to rival even the industry’s best is really just the icing on top of an incredibly sweet cake. A mixture of Gears of War and Call of Duty 4, it’s easily the best multiplayer title we’ve played on the console so far this year.
That the end credits rolled during only our second sitting is testament to how captivated we were by Drake’s adventure from beginning to end, and how enthralled we were by its characters, surroundings and set-pieces. Among Thieves is stupendous, a marvelous achievement that sets a new benchmark in both storytelling and technical prowess. We can confidently say that it’s the greatest game on PS3 yet, and a single-player experience unlikely to be bettered for a long time to come.