The first Uncharted title was a landmark achievement in the world of gaming. To date it was the best attempt at blurring the line between a video game and a movie in the way it presented its narrative as well as the believability of its cast of characters. While the gameplay itself was far from flawless, there was no denying it offered an exhilarating blend of action and adventure. For the sequel, it’s almost as if Naughty Dog (the developer) was granted unlimited resources and used the opportunity to amplify the experience by colossal proportions. Uncharted 2 is an evolution beyond the original game in every sense, it sounds clich

The game starts off with the series’ protagonist, Nathan Drake, in the midst of a perilous situation. There’s nothing new about Drake being in dangerous predicaments, and as gamers we’ve led our heroes from the brink of certain death many times before. However, it doesn’t take long for the sense of familiarity to fade as within moments as you are thrust into the heart of what may prove to be the most aesthetically¬†impressive game ever produced. Hands down, Uncharted 2 is the best looking game I’ve yet laid eyes on and the wizards in the audio department did a wonderful job keeping pace.

The story has Drake on yet another treasure hunt, with familiar characters as well as new ones finding themselves either with or against him, but ultimately on the same mission. The new members of the cast bring to the table a darker time in Drake’s past which plays an important part in developing his character. Drake is, as the title implies, among thieves and you find yourself asking why someone with such a seemingly large heart would be involved with such nefarious individuals. Alas, a complex character makes for an interesting one as we watch Drake juggle his conscience. The voice-acting, dialogue, and motion-captured acting is unparalleled in the gaming universe. The interaction between each character is so natural it’s scary, facial expressions and body language say as much to the player as words themselves.
The strength of the narrative complements the adventure aspect of the game perfectly as you tend to have a partner most of the time, so while you’re infiltrating a museum in Turkey in the middle of the night and scaling decimated buildings in India, you’ll never feel like your living the adventure alone. The banter traded between Drake and his partners as you explore the world and solve its puzzles makes the gameplay infinitely more enjoyable, it’s a much more dynamic and entertaining experience as hilarious one-liners are traded, observations are made, and people take digs at each other. I’m a pretty difficult audience to please and the dialogue had me cracking up on more than one occasion.

Given that the graphics are so attractive and the level design so well done, I’ve never felt more satisfaction from the exploration aspect of a game. Every inch of the world appears unique, if you find yourself in a room littered with random artifacts or debris, chances are it’s the only time you’ll see that particular room. Unlike in many games where the levels feel cut-and-pasted, Uncharted 2 delivers a refreshing world in which every turn of a corner presents new sights and sounds. If you thought the vistas in the first game were impressive wait until you see these, the draw distance is insane.

The flip-side of the coin is combat which was the biggest source of complaints in the original game. The combat has been revised and fine-tuned quite a bit so this time around it compliments the adventure and puzzle-solving elements much better. Stealth also plays a more prominent role, in most cases you can avoid direct combat altogether or at the very least lighten the enemy’s numbers before a firefight initiates. You also are granted bonuses for stealth kills in the form of better weapon drops,¬†so that alone is motivation to take the silent route. When you do get to the point of guns blazing, the cover mechanic shines as you effortlessly move from cover to cover for the best vantage points. Melee combat has been simplified to the point where your it’s just a matter of a few button presses but most importantly it remains effective while still looking cool.