So, Uncharted. Let's not beat around the bush. I hated the game, but only the "game" portion of it. I'm sure if it was a film, I would have really enjoyed it. Okay, the story's fairly generic for its genre, but it was funny, it was witty and it was different. The ultimate experience was completely undermined by awful standard and tacked-on motion controls, a lack of direction for the player, bullet-sponge enemies and a confusing lack of stealth gameplay mechanics, despite the fact the game is setup in a way which would imply it existed. Uncharted 2, on the other hand, doesn't quite fall foul of a lot of these shortcomings. The sequel is far more polished, with a greater emphasis on playing sneakily, thinking through actions rather than just leaping in head-first and work out the details after a big, dumb firefight. Not that Uncharted 2 doesn't force you into some gunfights, however.
Uncharted 2 is a far more grandiose adventure over the first game, travelling the globe and having a fair deal of the gameplay set in villages one-way-or-another. The game unfortunately falls prey to what made Uncharted: Drake's Fortune fall a bit short by actually adding in more equally ridiculous mutated-human enemies into the game. The guardians of the Cintamani Stone who have become super-solider-esque and run around in crazy Yeti-like costumes to ward off those in search of the mythical life-giving stone. Their appearance in the story is perhaps less annoying than the enemy type themselves, which near the end of the game, they come out in their droves to make your time a living hell as they just wont die save for some well placed Crossbow shots... Crossbows, of course, you need to take from a fallen mutant anyway. The dialogue, pacing and execution of the story is very well done for the most part. If they didn't decide they wanted to show one of the biggest set-pieces of the game, the train sequence and the wreckage of the train in the opening scenes and then jump back half-the-game to fill in the much-needed blanks (read: the whole damn story), I'd say the story was pretty much damn-well perfect.
Other improvements come in the way of the climbing mechanics, whereby you can now do hand-over-hand climbing where permitted rather than having to jump up every ledge. You can now just push the control stick in a direction and Drake will climb that way, same for hanging bars. It's a small improvement but will avoid some rather dubious deaths as you try and jump for things which aren't really climbable. Sadly, identification of what's climbable and what's not is still somewhat wonky in Uncharted 2. The game was designed with aesthetics in mind rather than player-direction, it seems. The most frustrating moments in this game, other than unfair firefights and the inability to throw back grenades was just being stuck somewhere with no idea how to progress. I was stuck on the top of a hotel in Nepal trying to figure out how to reach an obvious zip-wire I had to use for a good 10 minutes until I noticed a handrail was missing on one of the walls and only by going near the extreme edge of the building would the camera change to reveal the brickwork I needed to climb on. Second on the frustrate-o-metre is puzzle solving. It doesn't happen very often -- no where near as often as it did in Drake's Fortune --, but every time it does happen, you feel lost. Puzzle solving usually just means finding a leaver or repeating some arduous climbing sequence over and over again, none of which feels particularly intuitive or, well, fun.
The game's soundtrack is equally amazing, with a wonderful orchestrated score which brings everything together. Voice acting is top-notch with some wonderful performances from the cast. There are some groan moments from the script and some all too predictable lines which I'm sure you could make a drinking game out of somewhere down the line but hey, it never said it wasn't going to ham it up at all and for what it's worth, the game has a nice charm as a result.
Overall then, Uncharted 2 is a fantastic game. I recommend just playing this and perhaps the third game over bothering with the first game considering it's bloody awful. You wont come away from the game thinking too negatively about your time with it, although you may need to think hard to remember the good times you had with the game over the closing hour-or-so which can be rather frustrating on your first play-through. Regardless, the game's well worth your money, especially as it's now a Playstation Platinum game. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about for Uncharted 3, pick up Uncharted 2. You wont regret it.
Brilliant story, brilliant scripting (for the most part), really great experience.
Much improved over the previous game, really loved the stealth element included in this instalment.
Beautiful game. As I said in the review, probably the best looking game of this console generation.
Amazing score and amazing voice acting comes together to bring a pretty well-rounded audible treat.
14 HoursA fairly lengthy game, none of which seems to drag on... There are a few repetitive moments and some moments where it seems the developers were artificially extending playtime but there are in the distinct minority.