It was E3 2009, half a year since its debut trailer at the Spike VGA's, that Evan Wells took the stage at Sony's press conference to demonstrate the singleplayer portion of 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves' after hyping up their multiplayer announcement and beta about a month prior. The proceeding demonstration would be a trigger to unexpected anticipation for the release for what some consider the most critically acclaimed game of all time.
It's almost four years after launch at the time of this review, where does it stand since?
'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves' pits our now popular adventurer, Nathan Drake, against a power mad warlord named Zoran Lazarević, on a race to find the lost city of Shambala (Shangri-La), with it's precious treasure, the Cintamani Stone. This sequel allows a wider range of places to trek as opposed to the original; from Borneo to Nepal to even the Himalayas and beyond. Along the entire escapade, Nate meets up with old friends like Harry Flynn, Chloe Frazer, and the returns of fan-favorites Elena Fisher (now a freelance journalist tracking down Lazarević's activities) and Victor "Sully" Sullivan. All this to track down an important piece of Marco Polo's expedition to Asia...
'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves' may be considered one of the most improved sequels ever, as the balance in the game's progression from shooting (though a bit more arcadey than before...) to platforming to even puzzles seem so much better. The addition of wall-based stealth attacks to unknowing foes make actually attempting the SbD (Silent but Deadly... no flatulence please) approach more plausible... to a point, that is. The melee combat has also seen enhancements, removing the needless brutal combos and focusing more on dynamic attacks and new counter moves.
The LARGEST improvement however, are the visuals. Such a rich color scheme with (then) high resolution textures for a console still wow onlookers to the point of the trend of presenting games off to your household as a movie became MORE popular, thanks to this title. Naughty Dog also enhanced the character animations to be more realistic, and now with the power of Havok for physics this time, allow for incredible setpieces that rival blockbuster action flicks to this day. Great news as well is the removal of screen tear and textures loading faster than last game. However, lighting is still dated by current standards and are the only flaw visible at first glance.
Greg Edmonson returns to churn out another perfect score that gives almost exact feelings of being in such exotic locations, it's a perfect move to mix traditional instruments of the locations this takes place with that now classic 'Uncharted' theme. No flaws here.
The story is much more action packed and expansive while retaining some of formula from the first 'Uncharted', not that there's anything wrong with that. What IS wrong however, is that years later, we have opened up to the discovery of specific plotholes that hinder's the flow of the overall game. It's not going to destroy the game, but it does cause some to nitpick.
For the first time ever, 'Uncharted' has online multiplayer. Being able to pit heroes and villains against each other in competitive segments are fun. Beware though, there's a bit of a balance issue since the latest update, and it may take some getting used to. There's also exclusive co-op segments where you can attack onslaughts of foes together in alternate storylines. Finally, there's the cinema portion, where you can manipulate characters and objects in which when combined with good recording equipment, can record high impact matches or make machinima.
After all these years, after all the flaws it has developed or have been discovered as of late, that actually manages to NOT take away from the amount of polish Naughty Dog managed put in this game, as 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves' still remains to this day for some: "The Single Most Important Reason to Get a PS3"