PlayStation Archives: Uncharted II

The PlayStation 3 was home to a variety of classics that, alongside the PlayStation 2, helped to cement Sony as the King of Exclusivity. One game that truly defined the PS3’s golden era was Naughty Dog’s Uncharted II. It was superior to the original in almost every single way and, even all these years later, it has held up in both gameplay and visuals alike.

Nathan Drake’s first adventure that we witness is a fun and exciting visual treat. However, whilst it looks great on its own, it pales in comparison to its sequel which sports fantastic puzzles, a vastly superior story, well-paced and designed action sequences and unbelievable climbing sections. This second installment is bigger, better and even more beautiful. There’s few games that have made such a significant leap between their first and second entries but Naughty Dog managed to pull it off.

The game begins out of chronology which is a fantastic hook to keep players interested. How did Nathan Drake end up injured and scaling a train that is falling off a snowy cliff?

To find out, you jump back and meet Harry Flynn who invites Nathan Drake to track down Marco Polo’s lost treasure fleet. He’s a sarcastic asshole with a sly sense of charisma that contrasts wonderfully with Sully’s character. You can trust the old ragged man that treats you like shit but the young Scottish twat with a mean smirk is far less reliable. Nonetheless, the charisma that these two share as both ally and enemy is unrelentingly entertaining which can also be said about Drake’s back-and-forth wit with Chloe, another new character.

One of the biggest improvements from the original is in the game’s setting. Rather than being stranded on a single island with far too much green in the colour palette, Nathan Drake travels across the world to Nepal, Shambhala, Instanbul and more. Within these landscapes, the climbing mechanics feel far more organically intertwined into the environment. Whilst I loved scaling the walls of the temples in the original Uncharted, nothing in that game compares to the moving train sequence, the ruined village sat atop a mountain or the lush landscape of Shambhala in the wonderfully refined Uncharted II.

Gunplay may, at times, feel drawn out and tedious but these sequences are far shorter than in the original Uncharted and often take place in better designed locations. There’s also the stealth mechanic which offers a new and more tactical way to handle fights but the areas rarely favour the sneaky alternative. The enemies themselves aren’t that varied and often find themselves feeling repetitive. There’s the bog-standard foot-soldier, the beefy armoured dude, the even beefier armoured dude and the supernatural monsters. It’s very similar to the original game and there’s only so many soldiers you can kill before you start to wonder where in the hell they’re coming from. Seriously, is there a production factory that the big-bad-Russian brings with him on every trip?

-> Final Thoughts

Uncharted II feels like an interactive movie where you play the role of an Indiana-Jones-esc-rogue who can scale walls like he’s Spider-Man. It is unbelievably fun, intense and addictive. The story may not be that complex but it is a huge step up from the original game and it is rich with emotion, thrills and drama. There’s a reason that Uncharted II is so beloved by players and critics alike and there is a reason that Sony dominate the exclusive market – because of gems like this.

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