I’m starting a new “series” here where I review video games I’ve played and talk about game design and stuff. Mostly because I don’t have actual friends to talk to. These will just be games I’ve played recently and stuff, so it’s not like an update on the latest releases or whatever.
I know I’m about 11 years late on this, but Uncharted 2 is one of the greatest games ever made. Incredible spectacle, bombastic music and characters that feel more human than most video games have ever achieved. I mean just look at the opening shot of the game, where you are hanging off a TRAIN ABOUT TO FALL OFF A CLIFF.
Not only is this moment a mind-blowing scene right off the bat, but also works as a tutorial for the game’s climbing mechanics and inspired the game’s legendary cover art. If you haven’t played this game yet please do yourself a favor and find a way to do so, because I promise you it is worth it.
You play as treasure hunter and thief Nathan Drake, in his quest to find the lost city of Shambala, racing against other thieves as he does so (hence the title). It’s a relatively simple premise, one seen in many other franchises and characters such as Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, but Uncharted 2 brings that premise to video games in a way no other series has.
First off, just the writing and dialogue in this game is brilliant. Drake’s wit and relatability makes him a more interesting protagonist than most films and TV shows manage to pull off. And every character is distinct, with their own flairs and idiosyncrasies. Just watch this scene below.
Not only that but once you hit Chapter 5 this game just does not stop. You go from spectacle to spectacle, jumping through rooftops in a war zone, unlocking hidden chambers, and rescuing people around you. It’s a simple enough story on the macro scale, in the sense that you are trying to find a lost city and you follow a trail of clues to reach there. But what truly distinguishes this game is the spectacle that comes in between.
I think those screenshots speak for themselves, but even they cannot convey the intensity of the adrenaline rush you feel when actually PLAYING this. All I can say is, you have to play it to experience it. Which brings us to gameplay.
There are 3 main facets to the gameplay here: climbing, puzzle solving, and shooting. The climbing is incredibly cool, jumping around buildings and across cliffs and up a derailed train. There are a few interesting environmental puzzles to solve but nothing that particularly blew me away. The shooting, though, is where this game shines.
This is a classic third-person cover based shooter. You have two guns, and you crouch behind cover and pop out to shoot at enemies. It’s a simple gameplay loop, but what Naughty Dog does here makes it ridiculously fun.
Every fight, encounter, is set in a different environment, a different level that you’ll have to traverse. Sometimes you might have to fight enemies on rooftops, other times it’ll be in a moving train, or in a secret cave. You’ll have climbing sections interspersed with shooting, which leads to some places where you’ll have to fire at an enemy while hanging from a signpost.
Also of note here is the way your character moves. If you’ve played Mario or Minecraft or Modern Warfare, all those games share one thing in common apart from the fact they start with M: the characters move like super humans.
In those games you can jump and turn and crouch at the turn of a dime, and yes it’s incredibly satisfying to do but it’s not how any living beings move. In Uncharted 2 Drake moves like a person. Sure, he can leap incredible distances and has infinite grip strength, but his strides and jumps and and turns have weight to them. Combined with the well-written dialogue, it just adds a level of immersion to the game where you feel closer to Drake himself as a character; you can relate to him more.
It is not an exaggeration to say this game perhaps single-handedly turned the tide in PlayStation’s favor in the midst of the console war. The astounding variety, spectacle and unbelievably fun gameplay is why this game is revered as the bar to which cover-based shooters should be compared to.
I’d recommend playing this game on Hard difficulty, to heighten the tension and make you really think about how you shoot and use the environment around you. There’s a slow section near the beginning and a slightly abrupt ending that just barely pull this game away from a perfect score, but in my opinion from chapter 5 to 25 you will experience one of the greatest shooting games ever made.
See my rating scale for persepctive.