UnCharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of the best games to be released on the Playstation 3 and Naughty Dog are due to release the highly anticipated follow up entitled Uncharted: Among Thieves. We can categorically state that this is even better than the first game and is in fact probably one of the best console games ever made. This is going to be responsible for selling thousands of Playstation 3’s before Christmas!
The Story unfolds around a year or so after the original game and begins with our hero Nathan Drake and his companions working on locating the famous treasure of Marco Polo. As before the story unfolds into something more complex and epic in nature and they end up traveling around the world.
This time, instead of being constricted to a single location the game takes place around various environments – this helps increase the variety and pacing while offering more diversity to the core elements of climbing, puzzle solving and shooting.
The plot is just as strong as the last game with great character development which makes you feel a part of the story rather than merely a bystander. Nathan is still witty and sarcastic and the bad guy is just plain mean, no matter how you look at it. The feeling of a movie franchise inside a game is as strong as ever.
Those fans of the original will be very happy to hear that the gunfights and puzzle solving are just as strong as the first however the implementation of all key aspects is more intuitive than before. The variety with the gunfights is better because the environmental design is improved which gives you more places to take cover and attack the enemy.
Stealth is a more important part of Among Thieves and it can be utilized to your advantage when entering into unknown territory. If you remain unseen for instance you can immediately perform a stealth kill without being noticed by other people in the vicinity – a perfect way to dispose of guards or to even the odds before the upcoming gunfight. Stealth is thankfully not ‘forced’ on the player (apart from a few locations) so we can choose our own means of attack – if you prefer an all out ‘gun totting’ approach, you can still do so.
As the game progresses it gets even more impressive with increasingly stunning scenarios and around the half way point the game steps into overdrive with some mind blowing ideas and situations presented to the gamer. A noticeable improvement over the already impressive original title.
The combat is more dynamic which can incorporate climbing abilities and although the mechanics are almost identical the sections where you have to scale huge environmental pieces are taken to the next level. The graphics are actually that impressive I sometimes was wondering if I had accidentally switched over to my Nvidia SLI powered gaming PC.
Unfortunately the only weakness of the game is the decidedly linear nature of the design with only one direction to go to get to the next section. It isn’t a huge issue, but with the open world environments of many of the latest games it does seem somewhat limiting from time to time knowing that the ladder ahead will be your only way out of the area you are in.
The artificial intelligence was always good in Uncharted and it carries over to Uncharted: Among Thieves nicely. I wouldn’t say there was a vast improvement in the AI algorithms but the enemy still utilize cover efficiently and will make use of grenades and flanking tactics to make your life difficult.
The original Uncharted was heavily focused on a variety of puzzle elements and this time around there are less puzzles offered, but they are more complex and satisfying to complete. It is hard to detail them without ruining the experience for a potential gamer but rest assured this facet of the game is very satisfying indeed. You are blessed with Sir Francis Drake’s journal which has clues and hints to solving some of the more complex puzzles and trust me, you will need to rely on them to escape.
You are always accompanied by a friendly AI character on one level or another and it works exceptionally well as they never get in the way and help as best they can in specific situations. We all know that being accompanied by a friendly character is a painful thing to deal with as they can inadvertently block your path or do silly things at the stupidest of times. With Uncharted Among Thieves this never happens and the friendly AI seems really quite intelligent when you least expect it to be.
Graphically, the game is amazingly impressive with some of the finest presentation I have yet to see on any console. The cutscenes alone look like something from a high budget film and frequently my jaw was balanced on the edge of the controller as I awaited the next phase of the storyline to unfold. In game, the environments are richly decorated with enormous attention to detail throughout sucking you into the fantasy world you are playing. The lighting has to be the single best implementation I have yet to see on the Playstation 3 and even the texture level seems to be higher than anything I have yet experienced on this console. The animation also deserves special mention as all the characters move and react realistically throughout the game. It really is a stunning combination of parts to create a class leading whole. This even shames Metal Gear Solid 4 which I never thought I would say.
Additionally Naughty Dog have incorporated online components which are marvelous fun to play. It features both cooperative and versus modes and I had a great time playing both before writing this review. The array of options is incredible because with competitive play you have elimination, deathmatch, capture the flag (called treasure) as well as Zone Control. Gaining ranks means you can buy enhancements, such as the ability to reload quicker or hold onto more ammo. This multiplayer levels are actually sections of the single player game, converted and adjusted for use within the multiplayer environment.
The cooperative side of multiplayer gives players a few options. The main cooperative mode lets you play specific areas in which you will complete tasks with a huge plethora of enemies making life as difficult as possible. They literally emerge from every possible entrance making communication between the players a very important aspect of success. Survival mode pits you and some friends in a map area trying to hold out against wave and wave of enemy units – it is rather tricky and certainly a challenge, even for the most skilled players.
Naughty Dog deserve a massive amount of praise for making the follow up to one of the best Playstation 3 games ever, even better – with the extra bonus of wicked multiplayer options. We all expected it would be phenomenal and thankfully they haven’t let us down – it is easily in the top 3 Playstation 3 games of all time. The praise really can’t be heaped on high enough, so if you have a Playstation 3, sell your left kidney to make sure you get it as soon as possible.
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