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Portraits in Pixel

Great Games: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

SPOILER ALERT: Some plot details for Uncharted 2 are discussed.

Image used as an aide to criticism under “Fair Use.” All rights to Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment. If the copyright holder wants this image removed, contact me at sansuthecat@yahoo.com.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves continues the adventures of Nathan Drake, putting him on the path to the Asian paradise of Shambala, also known as Shangri-La. Among Thieves builds upon and improves everything that was great about Drake’s Fortune. It propels the swashbuckling into more immersive worlds of creative excitement and elevates Uncharted into the annals of unforgettable gaming.

The setting for Among Thieves takes inspiration from James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, which was the origin for the fictional utopia of Shangri-La. Even a character from the novel, the Llama, shows up in a cameo role. Elements of The Temple of Doom are also sensed, though that film, too, was inspired by Lost Horizon. Drake seeks out Shambala, because it is the resting place of the legendary Cintamani Stone.

For his new adventure, Drake is joined by Chloe, who is every bit the sex symbol that he is. Chloe is a fascinating character because she is a lot like Drake, but with fewer moral scruples. Like Catwoman, she can be an ally one second and a traitor the next. As the title implies, when aligned with thieves, it’s hard to know who to trust. This makes Chloe a great foil for Elaine, the reporter from the previous game, who you encounter later in the story. Elaine is in the area purely for humanitarian purposes, while Chloe is in it for treasure. Drake, of course, has to choose which woman’s path he’d rather follow.

There is so much to explore in Among Thieves. The game opens with Drake dangling off the tail end of a train that’s about drop over the edge of a cliff. It’s very reminiscent of the intense trailer car sequence from The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The game won’t let you off easy, even from the start. The gameplay builds upon the previous, taking the player into new scenarios and environments. There’s a lot more sneaking around this time, with an early Mission: Impossible-style infiltration of a museum in Istanbul, which requires you to quietly scale rooftops and take out guards. There’s also more dangling, as you hang and swing like a monkey atop the war-torn buildings of Nepal, sometimes even having to shoot with your other arm on a pole.

Lastly, there’s more spectacle. A military helicopter chases you into an abandoned building that collapses while you’re still inside. Fighting your way to front of a moving train, facing down heavy artillery at every step. An intense firefight in a Nepalese village that involves taking down a tank. The quiet moments are also just as impressive. Take the puzzles of the hidden temple. The first stage has you shifting the hands of a colossal statue into the right positions to unlock a secret passageway, which brings you to the path of light. You climb the faces of richly colored statues, using mirrors to shift around beams of light. Echoing the zombies from the first game, the supernatural elements also make a return: from the creatures that guard the hidden city to the enhanced strength of the final boss. The game never lets up, with the final escape being a superb race against time.

Somewhere in the middle of Among Thieves, I realized that I no longer cared about any future revivals if the Indiana Jones series. I’d much rather have more of the fresh, modern travails of Nathan Drake, who ropes us into the action in ways that Indy never could.

Great Games

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Sansu the Cat

Sansu the Cat

I write about art, life, and humanity. M.A. Japanese Literature. B.A. Spanish & Japanese. email: sansuthecat@yahoo.com