Two years after the released of smash hit Uncharted, Naughty Dog looks to make lightning strike with its sequel Uncharted 2. How do you improve on a masterpiece? By adding larger than life set-pieces, new characters, a love triangle and the addition of a brand new multiplayer mode! Uncharted 2 is not only a worthy successor to Uncharted but would end up being the blueprint for the series going forward.
The difference between Uncharted and Uncharted 2 is apparent from the opening moments of the game, as Nathan Drake literally clings for life aboard a derailed train. This segment of gameplay is typically called a set-piece: water cooler moments that you’ll be sharing with all of your friends after the game is over. Uncharted 2 features a variety of set-pieces, ranging from fights atop a moving train and a fierce helicopter chase, giving the game even more of a big budget action film feeling than the original Uncharted.
The story takes its cues from the Uncharted 1 as well as it blends realism and supernatural elements, focuses on treasure hunting and features more twists and turns than a pretzel. New to this series is Chloe, Drake’s old girlfriend, which causes a heated love triangle between Drake, Elena, and Chloe with an ending that must be seen to be believed. The story can stand with the best Indiana Jones films and will hook you from beginning to end.
The original voice cast reprises their roles in Uncharted 2, with the esteemed Nolan North returning to give Drake his iconic swagger and charm. Much of the success of the game’s story is tied to the voice actors, as the brilliant performances on display make each character feel alive. Newcomer Chloe is voiced by industry veteran Claudia Black, who not only had a starring role on Farscape but is no stranger to video game voice acting herself, having played Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins and Samantha Byrne in Gears of War 3.
The gameplay in Uncharted 2 is nearly the same as the original: exploration elements blend together with cover-based shooting mechanics tied together with tight controls. The one downside of Uncharted, the motion-based grenade throwing mechanic, has been scrapped; players can now throw grenades with the push of a button. Uncharted 2 doesn’t just rest on its laurels but fleshes out the core gameplay even more with stealth-based sequences, where Drake must sneak around and incapacitate every guard in a location. Unlike many games that shoehorn in stealth elements, being seen won’t end the game but will rather result in Nathan Drake having to fight his way out of the situation instead. Uncharted 2 also features an increase in puzzles, all of which tie in to the plot meaningfully and never feel like an excuse to pad the game’s length.
For single player replay-ability, Uncharted 2 features a large amount of collectibles to find and numerous difficulty modes. However, Uncharted 2’s major new feature over the original game is the inclusion of multiplayer, which greatly extends the game’s life.
Uncharted 2 features both online co-operative and competitive multiplayer; unfortunately, there is no option for local multiplayer. In co-op mode, you and two friends will be exploring and fighting in levels exclusive to this mode along with the addition of new challenges that require all three players to work together to succeed. In competitive multiplayer, six different game modes are available each with different objectives but the end result is usually the same: combat rules the day as you look to stop the other team. The multiplayer is unique in that it combines the acrobatic movements of the single player game with the cover-based shooting mechanics, which is a far cry from the more grounded multiplayer games, such as Gears of War, where jumping is not even an option. A leveling system and plenty of unlock-able items will ensure you’ll be playing multiplayer for a long time to come.
Uncharted 2 clocks in at about 10 to 12 hours for its single player experience, making it slightly longer than Uncharted due to the additional story it has to tell. The replay value is immense due to the inclusion of multiplayer but even if you’re a single player only gamer, Uncharted 2 is not to be missed and should be mandatory gaming for anyone with a PlayStation 3.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: October 13th, 2009
Release Platform: PlayStation 3