Game Night, Review, Video Games

Uncharted 2: The One I Kinda Almost Liked

Hey. Almost is more than Uncharted 1 got.

Upon booting up Uncharted 2, it became immediately clear that this one was a huge improvement over the first. For a while, I was actually enjoying myself! “This is it!” I said. “This is why people love this series!”

But then I kept playing.

My hatred for Uncharted 2 isn’t as powerful as it is for the first game. In fact, I hesitate to use the word ‘hate’ at all. However, it still wasn’t a game that I enjoyed finishing. Nor is it a game that I’d ever revisit of my own volition. It’s a decent adventure game that is not at all for me.

Huh. A negative review that won’t be filled with a burning hatred. That feels… kind of wrong. Oh well.

Story: All the Betrayals!

And I thought I had trust issues. Jesus…

Several years after the first game, Nathan Drake is approached by old friend Harry Flynn and old flame Chloe Frazer with a job that will lead them to the Cintamani Stone, which would lead them to the legendary city of Shambala. After receiving the first clue, however, Flynn betrays Nate, leaving him to be arrested. After being freed by Sully and Chloe, Nate continues his quest. But can he beat Flynn and his psychotic employer to the treasure?

In terms of narrative, this Indiana Jones knock-off isn’t that bad. Unfortunately, it carries over all the same issues that its inspiration had. Mainly through Drake’s inconsistent characterization and the lackluster main villain.

Let’s start with Drake. I do like this character, he isn’t exactly consistent. In the early levels, he’s very strict about not wanting to kill people. Then, throughout the rest of the game, he’ll… murder people en masse without even flinching? And then he’ll complain that he isn’t a hero before going to fight the bad guy purely to save the world. Also, why would you deny the possibility of the supernatural for so long after everything you saw in the first game?! What’s wrong with this man?!

Then there’s the villain, who is so boring and generic that I’m not even going to bother looking up his name. This dude’s only character trait is ‘evil’. End of character. He’s so incredibly boring that I would forget he existed the moment he left the god damn frame. Why the fuck is it so hard to write an interesting villain for a story like this?

In terms of narrative, this game isn’t so bad. But it also isn’t all that great. If I wanted to watch an Indiana Jones movie, I’d just watch an Indiana Jones movie.

At least then I don’t have to suffer through a third-person cover shooter.

Presentation: Second Verse, Same as the First

I could literally just copy-paste everything I said in this segment from the Uncharted 1 review. That’s not a joke. It’s exactly the same.

It’s another one of those games trying to look like a movie. Unfortunately, because it was originally on the PS3, it kinda can’t do that. The character models, while decent, still look more like action figures than actual humans. Granted, I’ll take that over the near uncanny valley we get from modern games. But it still isn’t the most stylistically interesting.

Though, to be fair, the environments look pretty good. There’s a fair bit of variety between them and they all look fairly nice. Plus, it’s nice to see how they interact with the characters within them. It’s a simple thing, but I love seeing characters get covered in snow throughout snow levels. And in that regard, this game doesn’t let me down!

The music is half decent, too. Unfortunately, I can’t remember a single track from it. I just remember that none of them made me want to kill myself. So… I guess that’s a win?

Gameplay: If it’s Broke, Fix It

Remember how Uncharted 1 was unbearably clunky? And how every firefight was the exact same thing? And how they happened every three god damn seconds? And how a literal baby could solve any of the puzzles within one minute?

Yeah. They fixed all of that. Unfortunately, they didn’t do enough to make them great. It just went from unbearable to ‘meh, it’s alright’.

Let’s start with the combat. In the original, each combat encounter was basically the same damn thing over and over again for painfully long periods of time. Thankfully, there is a little more variety in this game. There are more enemy types, the environments offer more unique challenges than none at all, guns have more than four varieties to choose from, and there are more cinematic set pieces than in the first one.

Unfortunately, this game still gets really repetitive. Some action scenes last so long that it becomes more frustrating than anything from the first game. And the checkpoints are so scarce that a single death could either send you back to the fucking beginning or do nothing to you at all!

And the puzzles are still kinda brain dead. Granted, they aren’t just ‘flip a thing and be done’. They are, at the very least, puzzles. They do require some thought. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to be challenging or fun.

The climbing is… well, it’s better. It doesn’t control like ass, at least. But climbing around like I’m playing Assassin’s Creed is still not exactly what I’d call ‘fun’. Granted, I’d still take this over AC. But climbing around in this game is still just about as much fun as pulling a tooth out.

That’s the summation of this game for me. I can’t point to one thing and say “Yeah, that’s bad.” None of the mechanics here are bad. But they just aren’t fun. This just isn’t a fun game to play! It’s like a playable Michael Bay movie. It just assaults your senses with constant gunfire and explosions for twenty hours until the game ends.

And I was never much a fan of Michael Bay. But at least he doesn’t make me play his movies.

Conclusion

Uncharted 2 was so damn close. It was nearly there! This game is a clear step up from the first! But one of the best games of all time? I just don’t get it!

If you disagreed with me and loved Uncharted 1, you’ll definitely enjoy Uncharted 2. But this game just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s a shlocky action adventure movie that hands you a controller and says “Do it yourself.” Don’t get me wrong, I love shlock. But again: I don’t have to play a shlocky action movie.

But to say something positive: I at least enjoyed this one enough to finish it. Unlike Uncharted 3, which I hated to such an insane degree that I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. As for Uncharted 4… no. I’m not touching that one with a fifty foot pole.

I’m done. I don’t want to play these games anymore. I’ll go play something else. Hopefully something that won’t make me any more internet enemies.

Ah, who am I kidding? It probably will.

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