Anyone can tell you that sequels are always a tricky business to produce. Video game sequels are usually not as tricky because the flaws are pretty glaring, and the focus should be for making everything bigger and better looking. Some companies' fix what needs to fix while other companies just focus on the going bigger and better leaving the same problems that were in the original. Naughty Dog, on the other hand, took all the right steps to bring their PS3 hit, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, from the list of good games to that of the very few that could be considered Game of the Year, if not one of the best game this gen. Uncharted 2 does so many things right and perfectly well.
Uncharted 2 picks up two years after the events of the first game. Our hero, Nathan Drake, has been propositioned once again to discover a lost treasure. Previously, he searched for a treasure discovered by his ancestor Sir Francis Drake. This time, he means to retrieve the treasure from the lost fleet of Marco Polo. Marco Polo returning from a trip to Mongolia was accompanied by a fleet of ships with all, but one, have disappeared during the journey with no explanation. Once again, Nate finds that he is not the only one looking for the fleet, and that the treasure will be far greater than he had ever thought of.
Those familiar with the action platforming style of Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia will immediately understand how to maneuver around the level. Nate can grab onto any ledge and maneuver himself to get unto literally any platform as long as it's within reach of his jump. Almost every area will require a combination of climbing objects, moving across ledges while hanging from your hand, swinging from ropes, and so on to make your way through. When you seem stuck with nowhere to go, then either Nate, a person with him, or the game itself will say or show you what to focus on. Action ranges from fighting enemies in ancient temples, villages, or incredible cinematic sequences that put big budget Hollywood movies to shame.
Gunplay is pretty much the same as the original game. Nate can take down enemies with various weapons found throughout the game and off dead enemies. Weapons are split between pistols that include the standard 9mm pistol, Micro 9mm automatic(Uzi), the powerful Desert Eagle, and the Pistole that is a literal one handed shotgun, and the Rifles including the always around AK-47, M4 Assault Rifle, M32 Grenade Launcher, Dragon Sniper rifle, SAS Shotgun, and RPG. Other weapons are available in certain occasions dealing some huge damage and will be key to make some areas easier to defend against the enemies' onslaught.
Nate's weapons aren't the only way to take down enemies. Whether up close with melee combos, stealth attacks from behind the enemy, or environment take down areas, such as pushing the bad guy off a ledge, will all help to reduce the amount of enemies you'll while providing a much needed variety of takedown choices. Defensively, Nate will have to take cover behind objects or do some hanging from a ledge to survive some of the enemies' onslaught, or to give Nate a minute to recover health. Enemy AI is pretty good as they make sure to take cover, and be a real challenge later on in the game or when there are plenty of them. All in all, there are very few gameplay elements that could be viewed as problematic unless you're one of the completely anal reviewers or just a dick.
Uncharted 2 is a stunning game to look at, but if you've played the first one, there's not a huge difference. Every area looks great, as it was in the first one, showing an extraordinary amount of detail. There's no doubt that Naughty Dog pushed the PS3 to the max when looking at the graphics. Something I always appreciate is when a game offers such a big area to play in but you don't see the same looking buildings or structures over and over again. As the graphics and cinematic remind me of a Hollywood movie, so does the score. Every piece of music is fitting with what's happening on screen, and adds to the overall presentation of the game. Voice acting is right on point with having a smartass hero providing some great one-liners to make you chuckle. Granted, not everyone will probably enjoy these quips that Nate and other will provide, but come on, lighten up. You can really tell that the natural dialogue timing was allowed to develop with the actors rather than forced making all the voice acting enjoyable to listen to rather than a pain to the ear.
After beating the game, which is a good 10-12 hours, there is still plenty to do, especially if you're one to obsess over PS3 trophies. Finding all the hidden treasures, beating the game on multiple difficulties and various other challenges are there to make you want to play the game again which was much different than the first Uncharted game. Once again, Naughty Dog realized where the first game was lacking, and improved on those aspects of the game.
A surprise to everyone came when it was announced that Uncharted 2 was going to have online multiplayer. My take on multiplayer is that it's probably the most innovative multiplayer experience I've had in a long time but it's broken. Including all those acrobatic gameplay elements and ability to climb almost every structure provides a really fun experience that is much different than most of the online games out there. Problem is that there are a few elements that can be exploited and simply don't work like melee attack. While only a few, they're just so obviously broken that it hampers the whole experience from being a game that could be taken very seriously on online play. But it's still a lot of fun to play being that there are more than one way to do things in each map. Game modes include the traditional deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag except it's treasure that you have to capture, and various co-op modes.
It's safe to say that Uncharted 2 is clearly one of the best games of the year, and arguably the best game on the PS3 as well as this generation. It's so close to perfection in multiple ways, and frankly, they should be credited for providing both excellent single and multiplayer modes.