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Review: 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves'

By Marc Saltzman, Gannett News Service
"Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" delivers an unforgettable interactive experience.
"Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" delivers an unforgettable interactive experience.
  • "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" a good reason to get cheaper PS3
  • Game reintroduces Nathan Drake, a scruffy-looking treasure hunter
  • Terrific dialogue, lack of load times makes game seem like movie
  • But single-player game is on the short side and doesn't let you veer much

Those on the fence about which video game console to buy might be tempted by Sony's recent introduction of the higher-capacity and slimmer new PlayStation 3, with a $100 price cut to $299.

And keep in mind that it's also a high-def Blu-ray player, a Wi-Fi-enabled Web surfing machine and a streaming media player that can wirelessly access digital content on a nearby PC.

If you need more incentive, however, consider "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves," an exclusive adventure that's shaping up to be the best video game of the holiday season. Developer Naughty Dog's sequel isn't flawless, but it delivers an unforgettable interactive experience for thrill-seeking gamers.

You don't need to know anything about its predecessor, 2007's "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune," to enjoy "Uncharted 2." But the story reintroduces Nathan Drake, a scruffy-looking treasure hunter who accepts a daring mission to locate a legendary jewel, once in Marco Polo's possession, which is said to hold mysterious powers.

On par with any Hollywood action film -- and perhaps even superior to many of them -- this video game delivers terrific dialogue (with some of the best lip-synching in a game to date), plot twists, a love interest, seedy villains, comic relief and huge set pieces in which to play. Helping achieve this cinematic effect is the fact that the game has no noticeable load times, a Naughty Dog hallmark.

Played from a third-person perspective, Drake's adventures take him through outdoor environments, such as snowy Himalayan mountaintops, dangerous Nepalese streets and the jungles of Borneo, as well as indoor environments, such as a superb museum level that requires stealth to complete.

Objectives are as exciting as they are varied -- finding a way into a building by scaling its walls and rooftop, taking down mercenaries with guns and grenades, jumping across deep chasms and fast-moving train cars, swinging between trees or shimmying across frozen cave walls and solving a few environmental puzzles, too. There's never a dull moment in this game.

For those who enjoy collecting items, Drake can also find 100 different treasures in the game.

Unlike the first "Uncharted," this follow-up offers a host of multiplayer options, with smooth matchmaking functionality available right from the main menu.

This includes co-op play and head-to-head modes (such as the popular Deathmatch, among others). Currency gained in multiplayer matches can be used to unlock additional content in single-player missions. Another bonus: You can watch a previously played multiplayer game in the Cinema mode.

While "Uncharted 2" more than delivers the goods, the single-player game is on the short side (eight to 10 hours) and you can't veer too much off the path the developers want you to stay on. But despite its relative brevity and linearity, it's doubtful another game this season can even come close to the thrill of Nathan Drake's whirlwind adventure. Its myriad multiplayer modes help give it legs in cyberspace.