Put simply, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves astonishes. Hour after hour of stand-out moments, sumptuous visuals, warm and witty writing and exhilirating gameplay. Roll that up into one epic package and you easily have the best game of the year, and very possibly the best game of this generation.
I’ve never played a title that’s had me exclaiming ‘This game is so good!’ so frequently to either my nonplussed girlfriend or the room at large. Or had me urging ‘Look at the water!’ or ‘Look at that snow effect!’ or ‘Look at those statues!” Graphics have generally reached saturation point in the current generation of consoles – even crap games have visuals that would have had you burned at the stake for witchcraft had you shown them to games artists a decade ago. But Uncharted 2 still manages to take your breath away. With production values second to none, every twisting environment, every crisp texture, every fluid animation combines to form a flawless visual package. And how refreshing it is to play a game that is a riot of bright vivid hues rather than a mess of drab greys and browns.
With such an epic game, its faults are hard to ignore but similarly very easy to forgive given it’s scope and ambition. Towards the climax, the game descends into one long firefight after another, a complaint I also levelled at it’s predecessor. Whilst not nearly as frustrating the second time round, it should be noted that I knocked the difficulty down to Easy for this one. A second playthrough on Normal may see the return of blue air in my household. To me, only videogaming super-androids need apply for the Hard and (gulp) Crushing difficulty settings. Also, for such a huge firework of a game, Uncharted 2’s ending is something of a damp squib. As I mentioned for the first game, Uncharted doesn’t really ‘do’ bosses – but I feel there had to be a better way of handling the final encounter.
Such gripes, though, are easy to forgive. Uncharted 2 is a masterpiece of game design which should only be judged on it’s plethora of strengths and not on it’s smattering of weaknesses. This is likely to be the most thrilling ten hours of gaming you will have this year. Naughty Dog has raised the bar to stratospheric heights. It’s lucky for us, as consumers, that every other developer should now be striving to scale those heights themselves.