Two down, two to go! Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is all done and dusted. I’m not all that interested in trophies at this point, I’m just hunkering down and getting through each one as quickly as possible. This one has taken a little longer due to other distractions I’ve had going on, nevertheless I’m back on course and hopefully I’ll finish Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception before long.
The game itself seems considerably longer than the last actually. Perhaps because it is, at least in terms of chapters; Drake’s Fortune had 22 chapters whereas Among Thieves had 26.
I’m still disappointed with the game’s gunplay. Drake’s Fortune felt primitive and clunky, and Among Thieves feels no different. There are a few new weapons but nothing to sing and dance about and nothing too game changing. Thankfully, I’ve never had the issue that I had in terms of ammo in this game, but the older gripes remain. I had a fair rant about all of that in Uncharted Is Overrated, And What? Pt. 2, so if you haven’t already read that i’d certainly suggest getting up to speed. In a nutshell though, combat is crap, cover system is crap, enemy AI is crap. Like I said, this pretty much rings true for Among Thieves just as much as it did for it’s predecessor.
It’s not all bad gameplay-wise, I can happily announce that the climbing mechanic is much improved! The animations and the actual climbing techniques haven’t altered at all, but its the climbing scenarios that are far better. They’re actually interesting and for the first time: enjoyable. Drake’s Fortune’s climbing was generic, boring, monotonous and all-round rubbish; Among Thieves’ climbing is far more engaging. That rings true for the puzzle sections as well, there’s a need to actually access a scenario and then work things out whilst referring back to Drake’s diary. Although they tried, I never felt that there was any type of puzzle to be solved in the first game. Spinning a few symbols around to face a certain way doesn’t count in my view, that’s pre-school stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the puzzles in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are certainly far from mind-bending; they are rather simple things that are easily solved, but it feels much better. It is like something you would see from a movie like Indiana Jones or National Treasure. I’d even say Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but we all know where that movie’s inspiration came from. So yeah, climbing is much improved, and feels much more rewarding to actually do, as is the puzzling.
Uncharted games seem to have this affiliation with breathtaking storylines. I’ve previously mentioned about each one being billed as a ‘playable blockbuster’, and although it feels like something straight out of Hollywood I don’t think it’s that great. Although the story is pretty engaging and for a video game you could say it’s up there with the best of them, but if this was an actually movie, I’d absolutely slate it. Although Nolan North makes his character incredibly likeable, that’s about it. Some of the supporting cast are OK I suppose, Sully and Elena do themselves no harm but that is it. I really couldn’t care less about Chloe, Flynn, Lazarević or anyone else for that matter. It says a lot when I only finished the game two days ago, but I still needed to Google search their names. That’s never a good sign and shows that as characters, they weren’t at all memorable. The villains never really enticed. In a video game, I always think that the key bad guys should have something about them, you should either love them for being sassy or looking incredibly cool, fear them or downright despise them. When I think about bad-guys, I think of much more memorable characters: The Joker, The Illusive Man, Handsome Jack, Officer Tenpenny and Vaas Montenegro just to name a few off the top of my head. On the surface, I can see where Naughty Dog were going with Lazarević, and Flynn was rather irritating but that’s probably more down to the British-accent-in-a-movie (or game in this instance) cliché. Hey, we’re not all evil, you know? I think the key issue here was a lack of character building, even though Flynn is supposedly a close friend that betrays you, I didn’t really feel anything. Mind you, I don’t really feel anyway and I occasionally have to scrape the ice off my heart because it’s so cold. But going back to the earlier point, this game might be spoken about as a Hollywood hit, but it’s far from one in my eyes.
Having said all of this, I am actually excited to get underway with the third one and I’m not all that sure why. Maybe it’s my man-crush on Nolan North?
Also, just to finish up on; for the first time so far, I actually found myself using the ‘photo mode’ because something actually looks obscurely beautiful. Previously, I’ve used the photo mode to capture in-game screenshots of cliché combat segments or a certain agonising jet ski mission. Now though, I stumbled upon a picture opportunity by chance. The featured image for this post is of my own making and I think it looks pretty neat. I mean, it’s all down to perspective and personal opinion, but I thought it was rather cool. I was actually getting ready to go to the gym whilst I was playing, I’d taken a quick timeout to pull my socks up or something and when I looked back at the screen, Nate had his hands on his hips. It looked somewhat natural in a “well, would you look at that” type way. Add a little bit of film grain, some blurring and a slight vignette and voila!
I’ve never really thought that this game needed a photo mode as the graphics are average at best, even for a remastery. They’re still good, don’t the get me wrong, but they’re not breathtaking like a certain other PlayStation exclusive…
Thoughts on the series so far…
The series is ticking along rather nicely story-wise and the encompassing tale of Among Thieves was alright. Each game is it’s own narrative, which is very movie-esque. Because of this, there wasn’t really any specific need to start at the beginning. There are a few reoccurring characters of course, but it would take a dementia-striken Magikarp to fail to pick it all up. Regardless, for the sake of this little blog series, and also my sanity, it made sense to play them in chronological order.
Gunplay still feels cancerous and I don’t enjoy it one bit. It’s still very much a case of run down this path, climb this, fight a wave of enemies and repeat.
Climbing is better than the first, and is certainly more fun to actually do. I still found that a lot of the routes were far too obvious though, and it’s a far cry away from games like Assassin’s Creed.
Storyline is good and engaging for a video game.