The developers at Naughty Dog gave gamers a sneak peek at Uncharted 2: Among Thieves at E3 this past June. Ever since, the gaming press has been buzzing about the sequel—even whispering such things as "game of the year" as they’ve kept their PS3s warmed up and ready.
Well, the action/adventure game has finally hit store shelves. And it’s easy to see what the hubbub was about. In certain areas, Uncharted 2 is indeed a notch above others in its genre.
For one thing, Naughty Dog has hoisted the Tomb Raider-style treasure-hunting niche to new wall-climbing, puzzle-solving and chasm-swinging heights. Their story swoops and entertains where others often stumble and disappoint. And the game’s exotic locales—including Turkish museums, Nepalese battle zones and yeti-guarded ice caves—look high-def sensational.
But what really impresses is that extra little something in the game’s playability. In the opening sequence, for example, the story’s hero, Nathan Drake, wakes up after a massive train wreck. He’s injured and the passenger car he’s in dangles perilously over the side of a cliff. As Drake, players must climb and leap their way up to safety while rails bend, seats collapse and every temporary foothold crumbles.
Uncharted 2 makes you think you’re in an open world full of unlimited options while somehow leading you straight to the right death-defying snap decision. It’s an incredibly fluid gaming mechanic, delivering a heady pace and the impression of literally playing through a Hollywood action blockbuster.
"Hold on," you might be saying to yourself right about now. "Those blockbuster flicks can also have plenty of stuff I don’t necessarily want to wade through. And I really don’t want my kids wading through it." Well, grab a vine and we’ll swing over to look at some of those pitfalls:
One problem is Drake himself. Sure, he’s the hero and he does make heroic choices—such as refusing to kill innocent guards in a museum and never shying away from risking his life for his friends. But he’s also a very "modern" good guy who’s well versed in light-fingered thievery, easy drinking and skirt chasing. (A hook up with love interest Chloe is implied by her straddling and kissing him while on his bed.)
He’s not alone in the fast-and-easy department, either. All of the characters are ready and willing to ogle the opposite sex or toss a sexual one-liner into the conversation. Chloe bares lots of midriff and cleavage, and she often uses her sexuality to get what she wants. When planning for a diversion in a camp full of men, for instance, she automatically assumes that it will include at least stripping out of her top.
Like many Hollywood pics aimed at teens today, Uncharted 2 also pushes the boundaries of its rating in the profanity department. The s-word is frequent verbalized along with misuses of God’s name and a smattering of such exclamations as "a‑‑," "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑," "b‑‑ch" and "b‑‑tard."
There’s no really nasty, gory stuff splashing around, but the bullets fly, blood flows (especially in the cinematic cutscenes), and Drake has a number of choking, elbowing, punching and pistol whipping hand-to-hand moves at the ready. Weapons range from Magnum-like pistols to AK-47s to shotguns to rocket and grenade launchers.
Cutting edge and cream of the crop are two very different things, I guess. So much so that sometimes I think the only truly uncharted territory in the gaming world is matching restraint and morality with cool and creative.