Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Remastered Review

An Adventure Worth Playing

General Info

Release Date(s):
The Nathan Drake Collection PS4: October 9, 2015
Original PS3: October 13, 2009
Rating: T
Developer: Bluepoint Games (Remaster), Naughty Dog (Original)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform I Played On: PS4
Platform(s) Available On: PlayStation 4 (Remaster), PlayStation 3 (Original)
Genre(s): Action, Adventure
Difficultly I Played On: Normal
Version I Played: The Nathan Drake Collection

Synapsis

Taken from Official Site
Uncharted™ 2: Among Thieves Remastered (playstation.com)

Reacquaint yourself with fortune hunter Nathan Drake through a tale of life-threatening danger, exotic locations and heroic rescue missions.

Delve into the secrets of Marco Polo’s doomed voyage and the legendary Himalayan valley of Shambhala. You’ll cross paths with some old faces plus brand new adversaries, including a deadly fugitive war criminal.

Tackle challenging puzzles, battle deadly foes and adventure across varied terrain ranging from snowy landscapes and jungles, to war-torn cityscapes and ancient temples.

Experience the classic PlayStation®3 adventure, now on PlayStation®4.

Why You Should Play: The Short Version

>> Once again a fun adventure and story

>> New locations to explore

>> Returning & new characters

>> A good middle ground between Uncharted and Uncharted 3

Pros

  • Great story
  • Memorable and reasonable characters
  • New and interesting locations to see and explore
  • Stayed true to predecessor in storytelling and execution of characters
  • Once again a classic Indiana Jones type of adventure~
  • More variety of puzzles
  • Enhanced and added game mechanics
  • Great soundtrack

Cons

  • I cannot think of anything that was egregious during my playthrough of this game

First Impressions

Beware there may be minor spoilers below depending on one’s qualification of a spoiler. Read at your own risk. In my opinion, this review should not spoil any new player’s experience with the game~

Disclaimer: This is my HOBBY blog with my own opinions, please take that into consideration~

I played this game during my binge play session of Uncharted, Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3. After completing Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune I took a one-day hiatus and then immediately felt the need to play the second game of the series Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I was hoping the second Uncharted game would mirror my experiences from Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 4. Uncharted 2 had everything I was expecting with the highlights being a well told story, amazing locales to explore, and a grand sense of adventure.

This game starts off with a scene that is a preview of what’s to come and Nate is on a derailed train in a cold and snowy mountainous area. At this point in time we don’t know why we are here and simply guide ourselves through the wreckage. After Nate is in a somewhat safe area we are brought back in time to how this adventure began.

As a perfect contrast to the cold snowy mountains we just experienced Nate is in some warm tropical beach getting pulled into this great adventure with two associates, Chloe Frazier and Harry Flynn, convincing him join forces in the search of Marco Polo’s lost fleet. At first Nate is hesitant but eventually the allure and thrill of adventure is too strong and Nate’s newest adventure begins.

The first main mission is located in a museum in Istanbul and we are to procure an object that gives some detail surrounding Marco Polo’s lost fleet. Like any grand adventure this heist doesn’t go exactly as planned and Nate finds himself in trouble. The events then spiral into a great adventure with new and old characters making appearances.

Since I firmly believe the Uncharted games should be played relatively blind the rest of the story can remain a surprise for any new player~ The story has quite a few twists and turns that make for a great story and embody the adventure spirit. The game takes you throughout various locales in Asia, primarily Nepal, Tibet, and Borneo (Malaysian part).

For most of the Uncharted games I will sound like a broken record in regard to the story and the sense of the adventure this series brings. Uncharted 2 is no exception and I loved the pacing and execution of the story. It maintained its strengths from the first game and had a strong sense of adventure and dynamic well-executed characters. Everything in this game seemed crafted to complement one another and it shows. There was never a moment where I was uninterested in the story. I was always curious as to what would happen next.

Like any proper adventure story or game, there are a lot of conveniences needed to propel the overall plot. These include but are not limited to ancient artifacts still being intact and perfect condition, a character is miraculously there at the perfect time, or we are so knowledgeable about something we can immediately solve something. This is a common trope in the adventure genre as a whole and I can see certain people thinking things just align too perfectly. I think the Uncharted series as a whole has a good check and balance system of having things convenient versus things going awry. So for any non-adventurer spirit out there just go into the game knowing it has many adventure tropes and plot devices (which is not a bad thing in my opinion).

After playing the first game Uncharted 2 clearly expanded heavily on the variety of locales and places we experience in the game. The Uncharted series does a great job of connecting a variety of places and this game is no exception. I really loved how we got to see nature scenes such as jungles or snowy mountains, ancient temples, and a war torn city. The story is yet again crafted in a way that we have expected and unexpected locations that all contribute to the progression of the story.

With the expansion of locales allowed for more exploration. Since this is an adventure game it was really nice to be able to visually see all the places even amongst the plethora of goons gunning for Nate and crew. I think not having the exploration be confined to say a jet ski like in the first game the simple ability to walk around buildings and rubble helps to world come alive. This was the first game they allowed most areas of the game to be traversable and I think it made a huge difference to the experience.  

One of my big criticisms of the first Uncharted was the massive shift from general exploration to feeling like I was transported into horror game. I am personally a big chicken and actively choose not to play horror games. When this game first introduced something that could’ve easily been an all-out horror experience, I was extremely skeptical and worried that this so far amazing game would have a long section dedicated to creepiness and horror. Luckily, they didn’t go as in depth or as long as the first game’s horror portion and instead stayed true to the classic adventure/exploration genre. I was extremely happy that this game didn’t evolve into me turning into a giant chicken during my playthrough 🤣

The Characters

There are some spoilers for some of the characters that make an appearance in this game. If you want to play the game relatively blind, I’d recommend skipping this section. Click here to go to the next section, Our Protagonist.

Believable Characterizations and Personality // Classic Adventure Villain // New and Old Faces

Once again the Uncharted series delivered with their characterizations. The banter and dialogue between the various characters is believable and adds depth to the overall story. The dialogue and interactions with the various characters is what sets Uncharted apart from other video game franchises in my opinion.

The villain in this game is not a great guy, and that is a good thing. He is an adventure genre archetype in that “there is an object and I want it” and he fits that scenario. This game’s villain didn’t have any prior personal knowledge of Nate or the gang so he truly was just an evil greedy man who would stop at nothing to meet the end goal. He is generic in many aspects but he isn’t portrayed as an over-the-top villain. Like the first game’s villain, he simply is a bad dude and we need to stop him. This formula works perfectly in this game as it does many true adventure stories.

We get a few cameos of Sully who takes a major role in every game other than this one which is a little sad since I really like him as a character. However, those minor appearances did make me happy to see Sully as a mentor figure and friend to Nate. I guess I am okay with Sully not being in this game because he states that he’s sitting this particular adventure out.

I was impressed how this game added in new characters that didn’t disrupt the already established characters in the series. There are too many games that suffer from weird character dynamics or the new characters being shoehorned into the story. Perhaps its due to the age of this game but every character felt as if they were crafted to fit into the story instead of an arbitrary character with no purpose.

Chloe Frazier

The moment I heard her speak my Dragon Age radar went into effect. Chloe’s voice actress is Claudia Black, who voices a major character Morrigan in the Dragon Age series. At first it was a bit weird to hear her speak with modern vernacular but as the game progressed I got used to her voice being Chloe’s and not Morrigan’s.

I really like Chloe as a character. She showed a potential path of someone in the treasure profession that was different from Nate’s. She is a woman who knows how to get what she wants and isn’t afraid at the tools she has at her disposal. I really liked that they portrayed her as a confident yet practical woman. This practicality is one thing that sets her and Nate’s viewpoints of various situations. Let’s just say that she’s the kind of character that you want to trust but also would not be surprised is she turned on you. She’s a loose cannon from Nate’s perspective in that she has friends on both sides of the issue and isn’t afraid to use either side.

They could’ve easily simply made her a “rivals-in-love” trope but the writers wrote her to be fully capable of standing on her own two legs. While she may have been a rival of a certain degree that part of her character was not her whole portrayal or personality. I liked that her confidence kept her focused on the issues at hand and she wasn’t afraid to speak her opinions and logically about a situation. I am going to play the Uncharted game where she is the main character, I just haven’t gotten around to it. I am curious to see how she evolved since her first appearance in this game.

Elena Fisher

I’m glad we got Elena back in this game. At first, I thought that they may have just skipped her and she came back in the 3rd game. I was pleasantly surprised when we met her in the middle portions of the game. She is still a journalist and teams up with Nate in the latter portions of the story. Once again, I really like her as a character because she’s smart and practical. She compliments Nate’s character and personality with her own and never feels shoehorned into the story or situation. Elena has some skills and knowledge similar to Nate’s while also having her own unique perspective that she brings to the table throughout the story. She continues to be a great example of how women characters can be written who are impactful but don’t needlessly dominate the story.

That concludes the character section with the potential spoilers. Below is the section, Our Protagonist!

Our Protagonist: Nathan Drake

Adventurer // New Relations and Associates // Stayed True to Character Established in Predecessor

I really like Nathan Drake as the protagonist. With his love for excitement and adventure we once again get to see his excitement when new realizations and discoveries are made throughout the game. What makes Nate such a strong protagonist is that he is smart yet humorous. He can appeal to the nerdier crowd with his passion and knowledge of history while still being a cool and humorous dude.

This game does a great job of adding new relations and perspective to Nate’s character. In the first game we don’t get much backstory to Nate’s character. All we needed to know then was that Nate was a treasure hunter and had a longtime friend and mentor Sully. In this game we get to meet a few new associates of Nate’s who are also treasure hunters and how Nate deals with trusting people who may have a different moral compass than himself.

I love this game because they kept his old character traits and applied them to a new adventure, situation, and villain. As with many games there is always a risk of a massive tonal shift or being inconsistent with the protagonist. Uncharted 2 does not fall into this trap of the inconsistent protagonist and simply gave us another great game with a protagonist that is consistent with its predecessor.

Gameplay

Options: Controller

Similar Controls // Minor Improvements // More Puzzles

Due to the remaster in the Nathan Drake Collection, all three games have been edited to have similar controls to add a level of cohesion and seamless gameplay. This game was a happy medium between Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 3. The gameplay in this game is fairly similar to the mechanics in Drake’s Fortune. There were some noticeable improvements that made the game play smoother and slightly less stiff.

The most noticeable upgrade in terms of game mechanics was the improvements on the stealth system. There were a few more areas where you can knock out people instead of having a massive shootout. While not every situation allowed for the stealth mechanics I did like that we had an option to go about things stealthily opposed to a frontal assault. The stealth mechanics have improved throughout the course of all the games. Uncharted 2 I felt was the beginning of more emphasis on stealth and I appreciated it. Usually my attempts at stealth were a failure but I did like it when I actually got through a whole mission without being caught. I noticed that if you successfully used stealth there were fewer enemies that would spawn, it felt as if the game wanted you to at least try being stealthy.

The weapon mechanics are similar to Drake’s Fortune. We have a variety of firearms we can interchange during our journey and have an ample supply of bullets and enemies dropping their weapons left and right 🤣 Like all the Uncharted games we have two weapon slots one for small weapons such as pistols and one for larger ones such as rifles. We still have grenades as an added weapon to our arsenal.

Like the first Uncharted there are a ton of shooting sequences in this game to the point that it can get a tad repetitious. While I attempted to use the improved stealth mechanics most of my gameplay ended up in shootouts. I can say sometimes it did feel a bit ridiculous due to the sheer number of enemies that would spawn in the area. This game and Drake’s Fortune both have a seemingly endless supply of enemies prepared to spawn at a moment’s notice. This is not inherently bad but in comparison with Uncharted 3 and 4 there are considerably more mindless villains roaming about.

I felt like this game had more puzzle elements than Drake’s Fortune. There was a bit more variety than just simply finding levers and pulling them. I liked that the journal Nate carries was utilized more and assisted in the solving of puzzles in the temples or other areas of interest. The more variety of puzzles present in this game allowed for a few more moments of exploration to take the edge off of mowing down the endless hordes of enemies.

Graphics, Artistic/Aesthetic Style, & Ambience

More Locales // Improved Visuals // Soundtrack Complemented Game

This game took us to a considerably wider breadth of places. Once again, the Uncharted series as a whole amazes me at the variety (both expected and unexpected) of the locations we get to experience as the player. With my love for snowy locations I was thrilled that we got to see portions of the Himalayas. The temples (both modern and old) were beautiful to see throughout the game.

Since this is the second game the graphics are not up to the standards of modern games but you can sense a minor improvement in graphical quality from the first game. The areas and humans are somewhat more detailed and clearer than it’s predecessor. I don’t think anybody should be upset with the graphics quality.

The soundtrack of the all the Uncharted games adds heavily to the game’s ambience and this game is no exception. I think the music portrayed was much more memorable and impactful than the first game. I thought the music that had the Tibetan bells encompassed the aura of this game: cold, beautiful, and ancient wonder. In the fourth game there is a brief moment where you get to interact with objects. Whichever object you choose it will play one of the core themes from the old games. Of all the soundtracks this one made me the most nostalgic when it played and I immediately pictured Nate somewhere in an abandoned temple in the Himalayas.

Would I Recommend?

After playing all four Uncharted games with Nate at the helm I can honestly say this one is my favorite for many reasons. Even though we don’t get a large presence of some of our favorite characters from the series the new characters held their ground and didn’t feel intrusive or off-putting to the story. It wasn’t wildly fantastical, didn’t contain many over the top moments, and retained the charm the Uncharted series has. I really liked the locations we saw throughout the game and enjoyed the adventure that came with them.

The characters portrayed in this game are exceptionally characterized. All of them were simply human, nothing felt sugar coated and there is not an attempt for a morally “perfect” character. Every character has a purpose in the story and feels like a realistic human being. As always, I love the banter between Nate and his cohorts. It added some relatability for the player and a certain charm that provided further insight to the new and old characters in the game.

We can clearly see there was an upgrade graphically wise and more varieties of traversable areas than the first game. I really liked that we got to see more structures such as the temples and were able to walk around in them. Even though this game is released only two years after the first game the overall playability has a noticeable upgrade. I liked how they tried to incorporate stealth to a higher degree as well as general improvements to movement and other gameplay mechanics.

I wouldn’t recommend this game if you didn’t like the first Uncharted or adventure games in general. This game at its core is a pure adventure story with the core premise of having some ancient artifact, a villain is after it, and we as Nate have a moral duty to protect said artifact. If anything of this plot premise sounds like a game you wouldn’t enjoy I’d say you can spend your time and money elsewhere.

I would recommend this game if you want to play a great adventure game especially if you’ve played any other Uncharted game. This game is very similar to all four Uncharted games with Nate as the lead. With this game’s grand sense of adventure, ample areas to explore, and reasonable and well-rounded characters any newcomer should not be disappointed and dare I say enjoy playing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Haven’t Played the Previous Game?

Stay Tuned for my Uncharted 3 Review!

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