October 7th 2012
I completed Uncharted 2 yesterday, after playing it over a period of around 3 months. I never really got totally into the game and by the end of it I really was just playing it to finish the game, rather than out of some sense of great enjoyment of it. In fact, you could pretty much cut and copy my Uncharted 1 review, amend a couple of points (the game is a bit longer, a bit more cinematic and a bit more exciting on occasions) and you'd have a fairly accurate review. This makes giving a verdict very easy - if you enjoyed the first uncharted (i did), you'll enjoy Uncharted 2, just dont expect anything terribly ground breaking or different. So yes, i did enjoy the game, but dont have many terribly interesting things to say about it, though there were a couple of points I did want to make on the general design of the game...
1. Uncharted 1 + More sexualisation + more cinematic action
Basically, Uncharted2 is the same game as the first, identical game mechanics (combat and climbing) with the same type of puzzles (visual, with use of your log book) and big bombastic action sequences. The 2 new additions as far as I can tell are the increased references to sex and the more regular interspersing of semi playable cinematic action seqeunces. On the former, i dont have any problem with the more frequent references to sex and the sexyness of characters - in fact it gives the game a real human streak to it that maintains a lighthearted angle on a quite melodramatic story. For the most part it works well and also adds depth to Drakes character, though i did have one gripe. Basically, instead of the 1 girl Drake is trying to impress in the 1st game, there is a second 'femme fatale' type character who drifts in and out of the game as an associate and part time antagonist. This left me with the underlying feeling that it'd have been less obvious that they wanted this character in to provide eye candy had they not had quite so many references to her shapely figure, but as every time she is on screen, it feels like we're getting a gratitious arse shot or some sort of quip about her figure, it left me a feeling this aspect of the game was contrived.
Regarding the cinematic action sequences, I always had fun with them. These typically take the shape of the camera zooming out to show you the panaromic view of the often spectacular area your running across /blowing up and they really maintain the flow of the game. Yes there are standard typical video sequences, but there is enough variety in them and they are generally quite short. When you combine these with the ingame action sequences, the games fun and agressive pacing is always maintained.
2. The game is good... but more of the same means less of the fun
This will be a short point - but UC2 is basically a carbon copy of the first and playing the 2 of them back to back ultimately left me unsatisfied by the end of UC2. When i say they are basically the same, i mean this quite literally. The plot structure is identical (some bad guy, some one worse than him, possible double cross, globe trotting for some semi mythical treasure and then a twist that mixes up the plot and enemies you fight towards the end of the game) to the first game and despite one or two genius moments (the opening sequence takes place about 2/3rds of the way through the plot for example), the whole game feels very much like the designers thought "we did this really well the first time, lets do the same again!"
While I've no problem with the old "if it aint broke..." adage, i must admit that i was left feeling slightly empty by the games plot and characters. Its not that they were bad, more that they were predictable, like much of the game. As i have said above the sequel retains so much of the first games approach that by half way through the game it felt more like I was playing an expansion to the first rather than a new game itself.
This creates one big problem - and i mentioned this in the review of the first game. Where the first game was more than the sum of its parts (none of the shooting / climbing / puzzling is particularly exceptional), the sequel actually feels like less, mainly because the sense of unpredictability is long gone after an 12 hour 1st game and 6 hours of the second.
Basically, you could say that familiarity was breeding contempt.
3. one big saving grace...
So while the game does not so much build on the success's of the first as it does replicate them. However, I loved the voice acting and characterisation. The game madea mistake in retaining so much of the first games structure that it feels like a copy, but what really sets uncharted out as fun game to play is the fact that all the main characters in the game (not just drake) get significant time on screen to develop their characters and have their own unique personality. Drake is wisecracking, but a very human hero, the two love interests are pretty amusing (one the bad girl traitor, the other a good reporter), the english chap who double crosses drake early on, Sully and even Lazarovich all get enough time to feel like a good supporting cast rather than just plot devices. Combine the above with generally first rate voice acting and you have a game that on occassions feels more like a movie with a great sense of fun anda genuine comitment to giving all of its characters face time. Its refreshing to see what could have been a brainless actin game actually take time to create at least semi believable characters.
So yeah, I liked UC2, enjoyed the sense of fun and generally lighthearted plot and was happy enough to finish it. Thats said, the game left me with no great inspiration to buy UC3 and I'll move onto a slightly different type of game next. UC2 is a good game, but it is just too like the first game for me to really have loved it. For me, great sequels take the rules of the first game / film and develop them in new and interesting ways. Sure, you can have the same core game play mechanics, but you need to bring variety in and UC2 just didn't mix things up enough.
Worth the £5 i paid for it on amazon, but a solid 7/10 game for me - rent dont buy!