When Naughty Dog released the follow-up to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune it was immediately met with critical acclaim, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves remains in the top ten lists of “Best Games…” for that generation of consoles. Considered both a graphical tour-de-force as well as a leap forward in terms of gameplay and storytelling, the sequel improved upon its predecessor in almost every way. Since then though, we’ve had numerous advancements in video games, so it was interesting to return to a classic to see if it still holds up when remastered in 1080p and running at a super-fluid 60fps. Whilst the remaster here is not as drastic as the first game, which often verged towards a total remake, there is still much to admire when playing BluePoint’s version of Naughty Dog’s magnum opus (in the Uncharted series anyway).
Whereas the first game focussed on a smaller story, Nathan Drake searching for El Dorado in South America, the sequel has much grander plans. This time our protagonist teams up with a couple of other intrepid treasure hunters, Chloe Frazer (who is an awesome character and returns in Uncharted 3) and Harry Flynn, in order to steal an oil lamp containing some sort of secret. It turns out that, similar to the first game, this initial discovery is actually a stepping-stone towards the true goal of hunting for Shambhala. Bringing in old favourites Sully and Elena, as Nathan Drake you must fight the private mercenary company of a psychotic warlord in a race to reach the sacred city. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a sprawling adventure that takes you all over the world from the humid jungles of Borneo to the icy mountains of Tibet, with lots of cutscenes that give the narrative a constant impetus and fleshes out the fantastic cast of characters.
The gunplay of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves saw several improvements over the original game and has always been considered the pinnacle of the series, with encounters feeling fresh and exciting throughout rather than becoming repetitive. There are more action set-pieces too and a larger focus on dynamic environments, such as fighting through exploding and collapsing buildings and the piece-de-résistance of a moving train! The puzzling and platforming sections are also more involving and clever this time, with tighter and more intuitive controls as well as increased complexity in the environments; there are less obvious edges to jump and grab on to, instead the level design itself naturally guides you through. Overall, this sequel is still an utterly fantastic game that lasts longer clocking in at probably around 12-15 hours depending on your treasure hunting propensity.
While Uncharted 2: Among Thieves isn’t as comprehensive in the remastering department as its predecessor, it really doesn’t have to be, as there was already a massive graphical leap between the two games and the sequel always played better than the original. Obviously the resolution and framerate has been bumped up to the max and the game runs great; it’s roughly the same engine as The Last of Us: Remastered, which has a proven track record on PS4. However, BluePoint have also done a fair bit of geometry remodelling on levels and objects as well as replacing textures so that it all looks closer to a current-gen title. The results are great and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has moments that inspire genuine awe, causing me to screenshot regularly! Also, this game seems to be the most stable out of the three, and whilst I found the odd glitch in the other two (nothing affecting gameplay though) the experience of playing the first sequel was near-flawless.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune has ropey gunplay in its original PS3 incarnation, but this wasn’t the first sequel, which was always held in high regard for its controls and the feel of its firefights. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the controls here remain largely unchanged except for the improved responsiveness coming from a boost to 60fps. Generally speaking, the shooting sections of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are a definite improvement over the original, and there are only a couple of occasions where the difficulty spiked rudely or I had a cheap death. Character models have also been improved from the original and now more closely resemble the cutscenes, which have also received a 1080p boost, and once again BluePoint should be commended for the high level of polish they have applied to Naughty Dog’s work.
Playing through Uncharted 2: Among Thieves again was a fantastic experience, it’s probably still my favourite game in the series, and a classic videogame in its own right. There is a perfect mix of humour and adventure, as well as tomb raiding, puzzling and intense gunplay that makes this such a lofty target for other games in the action/adventure genre to aspire to. The remastered version in the Nathan Drake Collection is simply superb and the definitive way to play this game. While the leap from PS3 to PS4 might not seem as colossal as the original, the improvements to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are still vast and welcome, pushing the aging classic much more towards the presentation of a modern title. The price of the remastered collection is worth it for this game alone!