For the first few sections of the game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves made me wonder what all the hype was about. The game starts out with a stealth sequence that I didn’t find very fun to play, followed by a pass through a jungle, which was 95% of the original game. I had high hopes for Uncharted 2 surpassing the good but flawed original, but things did not start off on the right foot for me.
But then you’re running through a city with an armored vehicle trailing close behind you. Then you’re running away from a helicopter. Then you have to escape a collapsing building. From that point on, Uncharted 2 was pretty awesome.
Uncharted 2 makes a number of major and minor improvements that really amplify the experience over the original. The most obvious improvement are the set pieces. The first truly spectacular moment in the game for me occurred when you have to through a building while a helicopter is pursuing you and shooting up the building from the outside. It was so cool to play through that entire sequence, which included an awesome moment where the building implodes while you’re in it. The game has a number of creative high points throughout, including the most insane train level to ever grace a video game.
Outside of the obvious and bombastic moments, are really nice little touches throughout, particularly in the animation. Naughty Dog took great care in animating Nathan Drake. There are so many instances in that game where he does a particular animation only once, which goes a long way in making him move more life-like. I also found that the story and voice acting were a step up from the first game.
Unlike the original, where I had a lot to complain about, my list of gripes is far shorter and less severe. I think that they overused some teamwork moments a few too many times to the point of being comical. How many times must Drake boost someone up to a ladder or ledge? Without spoiling anything, I’d say the game also loses momentum towards the end of the game. While the end of Uncharted 2 is way better than how Uncharted 1 ended, I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed by that final enemy encounter, especially in a game that has so many awesome moments. The best certainly wasn’t saved for last on this one.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is very much deserving of the hype it received back in 2009. Even in 2011, that game holds up really well. If you’ve held out this long, it may actually be a better use of your time to skip the original and jump straight to the sequel.