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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Back in '07 when I finally purchased my PS3. My Editor-in-Chief of CBSNews Gamecore insisted that I try out a little known game called Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. To my surprise that game ended up being one of the best titles I have ever played on any system. Now after finishing the sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves my already sky high expectations have been met and in some cases surpassed.

But before we dive into the goodness that is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, here's a little context to set the mood.

Nathan Drake, our story's protagonist, is a modern day Indiana Jones but instead of exposing architectural finds in well respected museums, Nathan's in it strictly for the fortune. With a shady reputation and an even shadier past, Nathan Drake gets lured back into the treacherous world of thieves and mercenary treasure-seekers.

Not long after his exploits in the pacific, chasing after the secrets of El Dorado in "Drakes Fortune", Nathan is back on the hunt again but this time his adventure takes him deep into the Himalayas. Following the 700-year old trail of Marco Polo, Drake sets his site on a new object of potentially massive fortune.

Playing Uncharted 2 is like watching (and starring in) a big budget block buster summer movie. The story zips Nathan Drake all around the world in his quest to recover the lost fleet of Marco Polo, and find the location of the mythical city of Shambala (Shangri-La) in order to get his hands on the Cintamani Stone (note: according to Hindu and Buddhist mythology, the stone is a legendary 'wish fulfilling' sapphire).

The game looks and sounds amazing. Screen shots simply don't do it justice; you have to see this game in action to really appreciate it. Action and dialog flow smoothly. Especially when you take into account that all the cut scenes are done using the game engine, none of the usual pre-rendered CG cuts that often times break the atmosphere are used. The devil is in the detail and it shows. When Drake runs through water or it begins to rain his clothes appear wet and take a while to dry off. The same can be said for other environmental effects as well. Footprints remain and you can see clumps of snow and frost stick to Drakes clothing after he rolls around in it. I guess Naughty Dog Engine 2.0 (NDE 2.0) ought to be recognized for this feat of graphic excellence. Like its predecessor, NDE 2.0 is utilizing the PlayStation 3's CELL processor to the max.

The controls are tight and responsive. When jumping from ledges, signs or across train cars the animations are handled smoothly. When encounters with opponents occur the game transitions smoothly into 3 different categories, stealth, hand to hand combat and shooting. The engine shifts seamlessly between all 3 modes as needed. Controls when it comes to the fighting and or stealth missions (its really up to the player how you want to handle things) are simplistic (either jab or block to get out of a hold) but the fighting animations are varied, and they often take into account the environment and surroundings. So you never get bored watching the main character go toe to toe with one of the many nameless henchmen. Computer controlled enemies will try to flank you and will also use the environment for cover. So staying in one location simply won't work. The Ai tries its best to force you to think on your feet and use your cover wisely.

The Multiplayer Co-op and versus mode are icing on an already delicious cake. But not all of us at Gamecore feel the multiplayer is a worthy addition. We wont mention any names but you should send our EIC an email about how completly nuts he is for feeling that way.

Both modes allow you to customize your character, leveling up and unlocking different skins and abilities by using money accrued during the single player mode and during online matches. It has the standard game types such as capture the flag and deathmatch. The coop has a max of 3 people and pits you against waves of computer controlled enemies that try to stop you and your comrades from completed simple team based objectives.

In summary Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of the best 3rd person action-adventure titles ever. Story wise, it hits all the beats that you can expect from an Indiana Jones type of serial movie, all the elements are there: the roughish anti-hero, the creepy villain, a love triangle, and tons of action and adventure. It also has nice tight gameplay mechanics, and a very deep co-op and multiplayer mode that will keep you and a few friends occupied a long time after you've finished the single player game. As fun to play, as it is to watch. In short this game should be on everyone's shelf that owns a PS3. A definite contender for game of the year.
By Jeremiah Wallace