Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Remastered)

Year: 2009/2015
Platform: PlayStation 4
Developer: Naughty Dog
Genre: Action/Adventure
Review Date: 8/8/22
Rating: ****

"I'm sweating like a hooker in church."

Renowned treasure hunter Nathan Drake is recruited by an old friend/rival to help track down Marco Polo's legendary lost treasure, which involves stealing a key artifact from a museum in Turkey. They pull off the mission without a hitch, until Nate realizes too late that he's been set up as a fall guy and ends up in prison. Sully and ex-lover/partner Chloe Frazer eventually free him and they start making plans for revenge and getting to the treasure first. This leads Nate to a dig site in Borneo and the war-torn streets of Nepal. Some very bad people want to get their hands on Marco Polo's treasure, which has the potential to destroy the world.

The story structure is identical to the original "Drake's Fortune," with Nate and Sully hoping to strike it rich by obtaining a mythical treasure, then Nate walking away when the job becomes too dangerous and complicated, followed by a change of heart when Nate realizes that the fate of the world is at stake and only he can save humanity and prevent global annihilation. Both adventures also introduce supernatural creatures into the mix as Nate and his adversaries get closer to the treasure. Unfortunately, the story in "Among Thieves" isn't particularly memorable, and I had already forgotten most of what happened by the time I finished the game.

Apart from the easily forgettable story, everything else about the game is an improvement over the original. The gameplay is more refined, balanced, and streamlined, and melee combat is vastly better. Sully, Chloe, and Elena provide support throughout the game, and the partner AI continues to be very smart and helpful. Adding Chloe to the cast creates a tense love triangle, even though it appears that Nate and Elena went their separate ways after the previous game. Chloe has "bad girl" written all over her, and it's clear why she and Nate have some history. She's a mean, ruthless, manipulative, vindictive, and duplicitous bitch, and you never know whether she's on your side or not. But Nate falls for her tricks every time, just like Lupin and Fujiko in the "Lupin III" series. Elena still has a knack for getting into trouble, although she's not nearly as reckless as before. Chloe is clearly jealous of her and competes for Nate's attention, although they eventually have to settle their differences and work together or die alone. Elena is a great partner for Nate, but they're romantically toxic to each other. Even so, the touching ending is rather sweet, but it will only be a matter of time before Nate gets restless and leaves on another death-defying adventure.

The already impressive graphics are an improvement over the original and the game looks absolutely fantastic. The sequence aboard a speeding train is especially breathtaking, and the scenery is nothing short of astonishing. The scripted action sequences are tense and exciting, and the sense of danger is tangible throughout the entire game. The music does an excellent job of setting the pace and building suspense, and serves as a nice cue for when it's safe to unwind and start exploring again. Once again, the voice acting is superb across the board, and Nolan North really brings Nate to life. The writing is top-notch and the character interactions are always smart, funny, and contextually relevant. That said, Nathan is still a cocky and unlikable jerk, but he means well (most of the time) and has a (mostly) strong moral compass. I often felt like he was too abrasive and unrelatable, but that didn't stop me from playing. The game is a good length, and I managed to complete it in about 20 hours on the "easy" setting, which felt just about right for my dexterity and skill level. Just like the first game, there are numerous settings you can tweak for all different skill levels and play styles, which I highly appreciate.

"Uncharted 2" is an excellent follow-up to an excellent game and does everything that a sequel should do. Many fans consider it to be the best game in the series, but I'll have to play "Drake's Deception" and "A Thief's End" before I can make that call.