by Howie Howard
previewed on PS3
The upcoming sequel to Naughty Dog Software’s 2007 action adventure hit Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is called Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. It, like its older brother will again be an exclusive release for the Play Station 3 game console only. Sony Computer Entertainment is the publisher and of course Naughty Dog Software is the developer for this much anticipated November 2009 release.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves begins about two years after Drake’s Fortune ended. Many of the characters make a return visit with a few new additions joining this cast of adventurers. Remember the first game where we had the hero couple of Nathan Drake and his sweetheart Elena and how they won the day? We all figured they would ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Well, they certainly did ride off into that sunset, however as we see in this sequel they both have found happiness in a way that is a total surprise. Nathan has a new love interest, Chloe Frazer, while Elena is paired up with new character Jeff who serves as her personal cameraman. I can’t say whether Elena and Jeff are romantically involved or if Nate and Elena eventually get back together; however a certain tension between them is present as this adventure winds to its exciting conclusion.
Unlike the previous game, this new incarnation of Uncharted features a wide variety of environments for your adventuring pleasure. Where Drake’s Fortune only let you make your way through a jungle, we now find Nathan and his band of adventurers in various exotic settings through out the world such as a bustling urban setting where they might need to climb to the top of a building. Or they can be seen combating enemies in bombed out villages or even jumping from ledge to ledge in the ice and snow of the Himalayan Mountains.
It’s all here and it’s all interactive thanks to Naughty Dog Software’s new and improved 2.0 game engine. The 2.0 game engine makes better use of the Play Station 3’s advanced SPU architecture. This new game engine allows for post-processing to occur and it makes the PS3 render like no other game console on the market today. As a result a high-quality cinematic presentation of game scenes and character dialogue is able to happen seamlessly. Naughty Dog is famous for its ability to produce games with scene changes that do not require a wait for the new screens to load. The shadows, ambient lighting, animation and physics present in Among Thieves are simply amazing. The game comes on Blu-ray disk and if you play this one on a HD big screen than you are in for an unforgettable treat.
All beefed up
Everything seems to be pretty much the same as what we had in Drake’s Fortune; however, many other things have been revamped besides just adding a few new characters and the beefing up of environment visuals. Nathan Drake’s dark side is being revealed in this sequel and we finally find out what really makes him tick. In addition, the game enemies have had their artificial intelligence improved. They have a field of vision now and if they see Nathan or one of the other adventurers then they will hunt them down until the situation can be resolved via combat. Speaking of combat new features are added that make the game environment more interactive. Objects can be interacted with and some of them can be used as cover or even as weapons. With all of the new features in place I for one am happy that Naughty Dog Software has added a stealth mode to go along with the excellent combat mode from the first game. Now you can sneak your way through levels instead of trying to blast everything in sight.
I almost forgot to give a short background on what you will actually be doing in Among Thieves. Pretty much the entire game revolves around the historical mystery of Marco Polo’s ill-fated return home from China in 1292. Nathan Drake and his compatriots find themselves searching for Polo’s lost fleet and its rumored treasure. As they make their way around the world more clues as to what Polo was actually doing are revealed. It seems like old Marco had actually found the mythical city of Shangri-La and its legendary treasure, the Cintamani Stone. Of course since Nathan Drake and his friends are treasure hunting mercenary thieves then this is the perfect setting in order for them to ply their trade.
Among Thieves features an extensive multi-player mode for your gaming pleasure. The first multi-player mode included in the game is a co-operative mode where gamers assume the roles of up to three main characters. They then partake in missions involving combat and teamwork-based objectives and need to accomplish set objectives that increase in difficulty against various enemy characters. Players will be required to assist their teammates should they become injured or kidnapped by the enemy.
The second multi-player mode in Among Thieves is ten player hero/villain competitive multi-player and it allows a maximum of ten players (five on each side) to play against each other in death match and capture the flag games.
Excellent adventuring experience
Well folks, I can’t say enough good things about the pending release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves except that another excellent adventuring experience awaits us all come the end of 2009. Naughty Dog Software and Sony have done their homework yet again so warm up your Play Station 3s and prepare yourself for a lot of running, jumping and shooting mayhem. I will certainly be there waiting in line to get my copy. Maybe I’ll see you on-line and together we can seek out enormous wealth and power!