By Dusty Overby
on 11.17.09

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Sequels can be tricky to pull off. Whether you’re talking movies, books, or, in this case, video games, experiencing the follow-up to a much-loved original work is conflicted with expectations. The 2007 PS3 hit Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of the first must-play games for the then-fledgling system, serving as a shining star in an otherwise thin lineup of exclusive titles and earning its fair share of “Game of the Year” nods. Back in the now, developer Naughty Dog has made good on their promise to give us more Uncharted action, offering a entirely new adventure staring their impossible-not-to-like scoundrel, Nathan Drake.

Now that we’ve had a few weeks to spend with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, we’re prepared to offer a Gear Patrol verdict. Read on for our detailed impressions, but the bottom line is this: it’s not a stretch to say that Uncharted 2 might be the best of the PS3 crop, bar none.

Get our full take after the jump.

We’ll start with gameplay. Uncharted 2 plays like a Greatest Hits of Video Games. That is to say that, rather than spawning new or revolutionary mechanics, it takes the best from it’s video game forerunners, remixes it, and offers a new experience that wears like your favorite sneaks. On the surface, the Uncharted series is about 3rd person shooting (an over-the-shoulder view) mixed with platforming and puzzle solving. That means that, if you liked the Tomb Raider series of old, Uncharted is probably for you.

As curvaceous as Lara Croft was, controlling her was always a bit ungainly. Happily, Nathan Drake handles with near-perfect precision and responsiveness. That’s a good thing considering there’s a lot of running, jumping, and shooting to be done – simultaneously. Even better, Drake performs an immense variety of animations such as acrobatic leaping, hand-to-hand combat, and stealth kills – all without the need for a complex control scheme. Naughty Dog has put contextual commands to excellent use in Uncharted 2; they seem to work without making themselves overly obvious. All things considered, it’s safe to say that Uncharted 2 is the consummate adventure game.

drakes2Beyond the gameplay, Uncharted 2 shines on the merits of its technical prowess. It’s no exaggeration to say that it is easily one of the best-looking games on the PS3. Gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe the lush and varied environments through which you’ll be trouncing in search of ancient treasure. The orchestral soundtrack keeps pace with the action, as well, and ambient sounds round out the immersive effect. The graphics play into the level design as well, in that most of the play-space is multi-tiered. When entering a new area, it’s a good bet that you’ll be traversing up, over, and around some sort of rubble or obstacles as you battle mercenary scum.

Still, what might be the strongest asset that Uncharted 2 brings to the table is appeal as an out-and-out entertainment experience. Perhaps more than any other game, it plays like a Hollywood blockbuster – only the adventure goes on for hours and hours. The cavalcade of characters is deep and varied, fronted by Drake himself. Our protagonist is a wise-cracking mix of Han Solo, Dirk Pitt, Indy Jones, and pretty much any Nathan Fillion character. As cliche as that might sound, here it just works. The storyline is highly engaging and well-written, told through jaw-dropping cutscenes that are seamlessly integrated with the gameplay. Add to that some of the best voice acting ever heard in a video game and more than a few plot twists and you’ve got yourself a bonafide blockbuster that keeps you guessing until the very end.

Forgive any appearance of overstatement, but Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is really the complete package. An excellent multiplayer is experience has been included, as well, bolstering the offering even further. Without a doubt, we’re looking forward to spending more time with Drake and friends; Uncharted 2 gets Gear Patrol’s unreserved seal of approval.

Cost: $50

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