I finished Uncharted 2: Among Thieves tonight, with my final file time clocking in at 11 hours and 5 minutes. In the end, I am still really impressed with this game. The two aspects of this game that will leave a very lasting impression are the cutscenes and environments.
Uncharted 2 has really raised the bar for cutscenes. Not only is the dialog well done, but the character animation is so incredibly natural that some of these scenes truly felt like a quality movie. No longer will a game’s cutscenes be measured purely as a video game cutscene, but they now have to compete with feature films with acting quality. Every time the characters interacted, the movements and facial expressions were so detailed it really felt like I was watching real people, rather than animated characters in a game. This level of polish really helped the story pop out much more than it otherwise would have.
The other aspect that constantly blew my mind was the environments. From the jungles of Borneo to the mountains of the Himalayas, every environment is beautifully crafted and detailed. Never before have I see such amazing things as I have in this game. Standing on the top of the hotel in Nepal was an incredible experience. I could see the whole town, the mountains behind it, a lake in the near distance, and the peaks of the Himalayas very far off in the distance. This experience wasn’t just a single experience that was crafted for a certain moment. Any time I had a good view of an area, I was thoroughly impressed.
The pacing of the game is also very well done. Coming in at 11 hours was perfect and was exactly when I was ready to move on. The story moves at a great pace, starting off with an excellent starting stage mixing current events and flashbacks to bring you up to speed. The only time the pacing felt a bit off was during stages 17 (Mountaineering) and 20 (Cat and Mouse). In all other stages (26 in total), the balance of platforming and gun combat was fantastic. In those two stages, the balance was very far off. Stage 17 is nearly all platforming and quickly got boring, and stage 20 was nearly all gun combat and quickly got frustratingly hard. So frustrating, in fact, I nearly quit the game. This wasn’t the kind of challenging that is enjoyable, this was the kind of challenging that simply felt cheap.
Another aspect of the game that could’ve used a bit of polish is the gun combat itself, or more specifically, the guns themselves. While there is a large variety of weapons, managing which weapon you have was occasionally a pain and got me killed more than once. When standing immediately next to a weapon, hitting Triangle will either pick that weapon up or pick the ammo up (if you already have that weapon), but during a frantic fight, you’ll often have multiple weapons on the ground near each other, and accidentally pick up a Pistole with 1 shot left, rather than that Desert Eagle ammo you were going to grab. If the weapons were more easily identified on the ground, this problem could’ve been vastly reduced.
In the end, however, all that the game did right outshines what it did wrong to still be a fantastic experience. The amazingly detailed character interaction, beautiful environments, fast and intense gunfights, great platforming and engaging story easily balance out an occasionally frustrating camera and weapon confusion in combat. If you own a PS3, this is truly a must have game. I foresee this game winning more than a few Game of the Year titles, and each one would be truly deserved.
I can only hope other game developers learn from this game. The bar has been raised, gentlemen; don’t disappoint me.