Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a definite step up from its predecessor in pretty much every way. The set pieces are more exciting, the combat’s more fluid with the stealth system working surprisingly well, the acting (CLAUDIA BLACK AND STEVE VALENTINE) and character interplay is stronger, and the story’s still pretty whatever, but it’s better than DF’s. AT reusing the whole “Nazi’s got here first, were Nazi’s, died” thing actually had me wondering if the first game was rushed out the door to meet a market window.
It’s still, however, pretty damn dated.
My previous complaint about platforming being floaty and of often jumping to your death once or twice before you solve the game’s favorite “puzzle”, “find the thing we arbitrarily decided this CLEARLY EXPERIENCED FREE-CLIMBER can scale” still rings true. In fact, it may even be worse. There’s a sequence in particular where you’re traversing the interior of a mountain that was interminable both in terms of length and my confusion while playing it.
“Interminable in length” can accurately describe most of this game’s back third. Basically everything you do after you leave the Tibetan village the first time goes on for way too long, especially the fighting. I said up top that the combat was improved and the shooting is, but the design of arenas, enemy AI and placement ARE FUCKING INFURIATING. Enemy shotguns will kill you in one hit and they are hiding around every corner. I was honestly pining for even the most aggravating parts of RDR2’s gunplay while playing this.
The story tries, limply, to address the colonialism inherent in the series, and the fact that most of the men you kill in Drake’s Fortune are South Asian and South American, but, and I’m sure there’s stuff from more experienced writers you could read on the game’s failing in this regard, it’s all limited to a hamfisted “Maybe… murder and theft is wrong?” sentimentality. The fact the only climax the writer’s could think of is Nate destroys a sacred Buddhist paradise in order to stop a meanie also says… a lot. Look, I know that video game storytelling in the triple A space is retrospectively rough during the seventh gen, but this was at the same time as the other mega popular cover shooter series telling a story, largely through gameplay, of machismo and “bonds of brotherhood” meaning precisely jack shit up against a meat grinder of conflict that does not pity and DOES NOT STOP. So, what’s the excuse here?
Y’know, I loved scaling the train wreck in the opening, or blindly firing at an armored vehicle as it chased me down an alley. I also loved the stuff between Nate and Elena which was super cute. Chloe and Flynn were also also great and I wish they hadn’t killed Flynn off , so he could have been a recurring frenemy. I GOT TO PET A YAK. All that stuff though, it feels small compared to the annoyances I experienced, so I think I gotta give Among Thieves a 5/10. Maybe I’ll up that to a six when I’ve had some more time away from it, I jumped immediately into 3 so it obviously did some things right, but that’s where my brains at right now.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception update: Pretty sure this game isn’t good, but I was left loopy by how batshit, goofy and contrived it is, so that’s something. In a lot of ways, this game is just as bad as the previous entries, but it was such an aggressive mess that I found it “charming” in a way. So, fuck it, 7/10.