Re-enter Naughty Dog’s fortune hunter series Uncharted, continuing Nathan Drake’s tale to find another ancient treasure. 2 years have passed since Drake’s hunt for El Dorado, and still looking for his fortune he is pulled into a madman’s hunt for the sacred treasure of Shambhala. Here is our Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Review!
Developed by Naughty Dog and originally released in 2009 for the PS3, a re-release was made available in 2015 as part of The Nathan Drake Collection for PS4 which was handled by Bluepoint Games.
“I did not tell half of what I saw
for I knew I would not be believed…“
-Marco Polo, 1324
The game starts off seeing Nathan in a Train Carriage, however, things seem a little off, as the cut scene plays out it is revealed that Drake has been wounded and glancing out of the window he realises the world is somewhat off-kilter.
Realising that gravity is not where he thinks it to be, the player is given control of Drake needing to escape by climbing around the train and making it back to Terrafirma. As fantastic a sequence as this is, it flashed you back to where the story starts a few times between gameplay segments, all before Nathan recovers a relic that resembles a knife.
As openings go this was an incredible introduction to the game and easily tops the introduction that Drakes Fortune provided 2 years prior in 2007. If this wasn’t all, the game is just getting started and going forward was as impressive if not more than the opening sequence. The only downside to this is it took a few chapters to reveal what the goal of the story was. This isn’t a bad thing, more like it was misleading as the relevant information is presented to you but it’s not easy to understand it at the time you are presented with it. Although you learn in Chapter 2 that you are looking for the Cintamani Stone, things don’t always go as planned and Drake ends up in Prison for 3 months until Victor Sullivan finds him with the Help of Chloe Frazer.
Most of the rest of the game takes place with Nathan learning more about the stone and getting his own back on the betrayal he suffered. That being said he will end up in Nepal where he comes face-to-face with an old friend, Elena Fisher, and the War Criminal Zoran Lazarević. Escaping from one situation to another Drake manages to come through and finds out that he needs to follow Chloe who is working as a double agent. Knowing he can’t leave things as they were and he might be the only person to stop Lazarević, he heads over to the train yard where he catches the train you see at the beginning.
Upon catching up with the beginning of the game’s sequence Drake collapses and re-awakens in a Tibetan village. Dragged there in order to save him, by Tenzin, he finds Elena and meets a man who has all the answers he needs.
Unlike the rest of the game, the village sequence is a much slower and more peaceful-paced section of the game, almost like it was designed to show off. Upon meeting with Elena, Nathan is also introduced to a German Explorer who was brought to the village years before, named Karl Schäfer. He sends Drake and Tenzin to the place his expedition ended where Drake learns that no one can have the stone, soon after they find the village under attack from Lazarević, who has abducted Schäfer and interrogated him. With a new resolve to finish the job, Drake sets out to stop Lazarević once and for all. Unfortunately, Drake is cornered and forced to help Lazarević get into Shambhala, wanting Drake to know his failure before he is killed.
Gameplay, Mechanic-Based, and Graphic Changes:
Although much like its previous instalment in the series, Drakes Fortune, Among Thieves plays much the same. There are some differences, and improvements that have been made. Some of these include:
- Animations seem smoother
- Combat in general feels more immersive
- Stealth has been slightly improved
- The addition of a Tranquillizer gun in the Museum
Most of these things are improved upon from the previous instalment of the series. The only unique thing in this game is the Tranquilizer gun, which is limited to the Museum level. In addition to this is the Puzzles. In Drakes Fortune things that would make you stop and think have been improved upon to enhance immersion and make the player think from a new perspective.
Another thing that feels like it has been altered is the game’s navigation. The way that the player is designed to progress and navigate around the world doesn’t feel much different however, there is a clear improvement over some of the Drakes Fortune sections. Where it felt sluggish in parts like swinging or climbing, now Drake feels like he has had more experience and knows his limits better, meaning the performance of the Motion Capture is improved and the character gets to feel more real.
With the enhancements in technology, albeit 2 years and on the same generation of console, Naughty Dog managed to improve the visual quality of the game. Where Drakes Fortune looked sort of flat and without a lot of depth at times, Among Thieves has been enhanced to have a greater tone palette and colour dynamic.
Although the same cast of characters return for this iteration there are some new additions, like Flynn, Chloe, and Lazarević. Because our review of the first game covers the main characters like Drake and Elena we will not be focusing on them here, please refer below for information on them from the Drakes Fortune Review.
It could be argued that Chloe is Drake’s new love interest in the game, as when Elena is introduced, her first reaction is:
“Elena Fisher, Last Years Model“
This shows her feeling to an extent about Chloe and Drake showing up together in a War Zone. In actual fact, Chloe is one of the harder characters to read the intentions of, sometimes she is more than willing to help Drake and others she would rather kill him, but that’s nothing new to him. This is probably to do with her Double Agent set-up in the game, but it’s not until later in the game that it’s clear who she sides with.
At first glance Flynn seems like a good character, however, as the story evolves he becomes someone who you would rather leave for dead. Thankfully the sequences with him are spread out and limited throughout the game.
He is designed like Nathan, the only difference is that his attitude isn’t as good as Drakes. Where Drake has this cocky attitude that hides his weaknesses and makes him seem more confident most of the time, Flynn has the opposite approach. Really by the time you get to the end of the game, you really wish that you could see him a few more times if not to shoot him.
Lazarević is introduced near the end of the Nepal section of the game where he is shown as this brutal and merciless monster who only cares about himself. He is shown like this earlier in the game, back in Borneo, where he kills a guy for stealing and is getting more and more irritated by the fact Flynn is not providing results. His cruel streak extends all through the story, but even though he is a villain he has his good points. Sure he turns Napal into a warzone, attacks the Tibetan Village and kills Schäfer, but he can’t stand Flynn, so he can’t be all bad.
Where Zoran is the bad guy of the story he is also the driving force for a good amount of the story. This might sound pretty odd but to have a villain as the character who pushes Drake, but it’s actually a really good dynamic.
Overall the game feels like it has taken everything Drakes Fortune was, and improved and enhanced every part. The new setting keeps the interest in the franchise and the villain is a fantastic addition that keeps the gameplay moving. The reintroduction of Sully and Elena is handled in a way, that if you are starting on Among Thieves nothing is really missed from Drakes Fortune, which is nice. The bridge between the two games, Drakes Fortune and Among Thieves, isn’t really touched on, and the distance between Drake and Elena is a little irritating at first if you are coming from Drakes Fortune. There aren’t really many bad parts of the game, it seems like the developers really had a formula and made it work pretty well.
The main irritations were Virtual to Real World comparisons, like how Drake can hang onto a cliff in freezing conditions or the lack of limited motor functionality when he has been shot. This might be picking fault but I personally would have liked to see Drake struggling to climb or move around once he is shot on the train, while the player is in control, up until the end of the game. This might have been irritating but realistically Drake lost a lot of blood and he wouldn’t be in any condition to be moving around the way he does. He will however hold his side while walking around after climbing out of the train wreck. In addition to this are the freezing areas of the game where Drake needs to climb on ice and snow, under normal situations his hands would be freezing and he would be struggling to hold on. This is not the case, and he manages to carry on like normal.
Where these are only my personal opinions on the game, it shouldn’t deter you from trying it, it really is better than Drakes Fortune and the bad points are easy to ignore if you need to. The fact that Drake is only human and he acts superhuman is the point I was trying to illustrate.
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