Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Updated Impressions - New Single-Player Levels

We watch as Nathan Drake manages one wounded ally, two feisty women, and a small army bent on his destruction.

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The life of Nathan Drake is never dull, and that's the way we like it. How else would that lovable rogue keep us so consistently entertained? In two new single-player levels from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Nathan keeps the thrills coming, showing off some new gameplay elements and revealing a bit more about the deep, twisting plot that drives developer Naughty Dog's upcoming adventure.

At the beginning of the level, we got some background on the salient plot points that brought Nathan to where he is now. He and his new partner, Chloe Frazer, arrived in a small Tibetan town on the trail of Marco Polo. When Polo came to the area centuries earlier, it was a lush green valley liberally dotted with temples. When Nathan arrives, he finds that a sprawling city now dominates the valley, hiding the still-numerous temples within its winding streets and tall apartment buildings. He and Chloe climb to an elevated point to locate the one specific temple they're searching for, but on the way down they are waylaid by an attack helicopter. This level was demoed during Sony's press conference, and you can read our Stage Demo Impressions and watch a video segment from our stage demo of the game for more on what transpired there.

During our closer look at this demoed level, one moment in the action stuck out as particularly impressive. The pair landed on a rooftop dotted by cement plant troughs after they narrowly avoided falling to their deaths. As they took cover behind a trough, we were struck by the amount of activity onscreen. Soldiers advanced over the rooftop under cover of the helicopter floating above. The plants in the troughs flailed wildly in the wind, battered in specific directions by the whirling rotor blades. The pots splintered as they were riddled by bullets, and the shards scattered over the ducking duo's heads. As Nathan maneuvered to get a better shot at the soldiers, Chloe dodged around him quickly so as not to obstruct his movements. It was an exciting slice of action, and the little touches made the game feel more electric than its predecessor.

The new level finds Nathan exiting a temple, where, through sweat and ingenuity, he has retrieved the object he was searching for. Waiting for him in the courtyard should be a mildly irritated Elena (is there any other kind?) and her cameraman companion (she's big-time now). It turns out that Elena is back for the sequel (check out the official Uncharted 2 trailer for more Elena attitude), and she's on the trail of Zorin Lazarevic, the very same psychotic war criminal trying to kill Drake. NATO believes Lazarevic to be dead, but Elena thinks otherwise. Well, now she knows otherwise, and when Drake meets up with her in the courtyard, she is pinned down by Lazarevic's troops. Drake makes use of his considerable marksmanship skills to get her out of a bind.

He also gets up close and personal with a few enemies, showcasing Uncharted 2's more nuanced melee combat system. Drake will take on light, medium, and heavy foes. Light foes can be beaten down by simply pressing the melee attack button a lot. There is a renewed focus on environmentally sensitive attacks, so Drake will shove enemies off of ledges and bend them over low obstacles to deliver some savage punches. Medium enemies require a bit more attention, as they can parry Drake's blows and get him into sticky situations. One of these foes might get him in an arm bar or a headlock. At this point the action will slow down, giving Drake the chance to counter with the action button. Countering will turn the tides; if you fail to do so, Drake will get hurt. Hand-to-hand combat with heavy foes should be avoided, as their armor prevents Drake from getting the best of them. Countering is necessary for survival here, because heavy foes are much more deadly. This new melee system looks to add more depth and excitement to the action, while still flowing smoothly and being easy to execute.

Once the courtyard was cleared, Drake and Chloe met up with Elena and Jeff, her cameraman. Jeff had suffered a gunshot wound to the belly that looked quite nasty, and Chloe was inclined to leave him for dead. Not one to leave a man behind (or a companion of Elena's behind?), Drake hoisted Jeff upright and draped one of his arms around his neck. This left Drake with one free arm, so it was a slow, sidearm-wielding shuffle through the rest of the level. But that didn't mean the enemies let up. The team maneuvered through alleys and crumbled houses, blasting enemies and dodging the truck-mounted turrets that appeared with alarming frequency. Elena and Chloe stepped up their shooting a bit, buying Drake some much-needed time to get to safety. Jeff would occasionally slump and Drake would have to hoist him up, and the animation was incredibly realistic (as was the oozing gunshot wound). Eventually the team reached a point where acrobatics were required to proceed. Chloe wanted to forge onward, but Drake and Elena wouldn't leave Jeff behind. Exasperated and out of time, Chloe pulled her gun on Nathan and said something to the effect of "I was just trying to save your sorry hide."

Does Chloe then demand that Nathan give her their precious find? Does she head off on her own? Does she shoot Jeff to make the decision moot? There are plenty of ways it could go, and we're assured there will be ample twists, double-crosses, and dramatic moments throughout the story. Uncharted 2 is shaping up to be an impressively epic follow-up, and the tweaks to the action look to make things even more intense. Be sure to check out the other stories and videos in GameSpot's extensive E3 coverage of Uncharted 2.

Discussion

95 comments
princeuncharted
princeuncharted

One of the best games ever !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nobri
Nobri

@Switchblade777 I bet you're feeling jealous on the inside after seeing how good this is. And to answer your question (in one way) is free online, and don't go and say that XBL is better. It is, but the only reason that I have gotten that it is better is that: 1) There aren't as many children (but children are supposed to play games...), and 2), it has better party speech. In fact, I've actually heard that PSN has LESS lag, and I don't think those two pros outweigh the $50 per year fee.

apothix
apothix

God I love this game

Luiz_AF
Luiz_AF

I wonder where I can find footage from that jungle level we see on the last screenshot.

60spaure
60spaure

I think I prefer the feel of the first game. Well, I'll see when it comes out. Looks like this game won't be rated Teen like it's predecesor. Probably be rated Mature.

scepterone
scepterone

I wonder what Sony is going to do next on their console! Especially when late last year it was announced that a type of Blueray disc coming this year will is going to hold 400 gigs of data!

Switchblade777
Switchblade777

Do you know whats so good about the ps3? its not an xbox

mental_case_5
mental_case_5

I am gettin' this game. I've already pre-ordered it!

Joshuayeah
Joshuayeah

i like how pretty much every ps3 owner loves the first one. it is the best exclusive game. the only nag i had with the first one was the excessive amount or shots it took to kill one enemy. it got frustrating in the courtyard, but i enjoyed the challenge!

redwatch1
redwatch1

bring it now i cannot wait anyone know the real date for this game to come out

PSWII60user
PSWII60user

this game looks amazing, and it is also nice that the multiplayer is great and not just a stupid addition. I CAN'T WAIT!

thekey
thekey

Uncharted 2, heavy rain!!! I can't wait!

CRYSIX
CRYSIX

I can't wait for it. LOOKS AMAZING.

claykenobi
claykenobi

Uncharted is the reason I fell in love with the PS3. And Sony has fallowed up with great exclusives ever since. This game is going to be so BAD ACE!!

haze_blaze
haze_blaze

This and Heavy Rain are my two most anticipated games for the rest of the year! Splinter Cell & Demon's Soul are fighting it out for 3rd...

ps3rocks11
ps3rocks11

I'm definitely gonna get this game.

Echelon_Prime
Echelon_Prime

Echelon_Prime Speaks: Looking forward To this Release. Echelon_Prime: Out

Thomas-Crown
Thomas-Crown

If the 2nd is anything like the first, I am happy but from the sound of it, is better, of course... So, I am loving it. Naughty Dog done it again.. A game I cannot resist.

gobbo00
gobbo00

Uncharted is the only PS3 exclusive game I liked (played to death), more so than (almost) any other game I have played to date sofar. borgmaster sorry thumbs down, Uncharted 2 will most likey (will infact, learned a lesson RENT it first KZ2 did'nt float my boat at all) be the only PS3 exclusive game I buy again this year.

sigerzx
sigerzx

this will probably be my game of the year and out just before my birthday XD

borgmaster
borgmaster

playing the first one now, can't say I'm overly impressed. And it seems that for a sequel to a AA game every GS member is foaming at the mouth over this...

Frimmel
Frimmel

While the first was a bit more shooter than I have a taste for it did involve me in the characters and story deeply enough that I'll be signing up for the sequel.

Anoch20
Anoch20

this is the new Socom when it comes to online. It's just as fun and thrilling online. Also the graphics for this game even online are incredible. Co-op is great too. This will definately be GOTY contender, it's shaping up to be own of those games you will never want to part with. WORTH EVERY PENNY

drajon88
drajon88

Wow just wow this game is going to be awesome CAN'T WAIT!

supersonikk
supersonikk

The first game was amazing, but this looks 10 times better!

BigBoss712
BigBoss712

Some really big improvements over the first one, very impressive stuff.

TXMostWanted
TXMostWanted

Uncharted 2 looks like it'll surpass its predecessor...which in my opinion is a very tall order. But you've got a better variety of locations, the original cast plus new characters to put spins into the plotline, great graphics, better arsenal of weapons & moves etc.....it's official. Tomb Raider is dead in my book lol

Luiz_AF
Luiz_AF

I own the first one and it rocks. This looks even better. Its good to see that Elena and Sully are back :D

raptor400k
raptor400k

I was following the first like hell but didn;t get to play it. Hope this one is longer and the varierty of environs are cool+Me and my friends are gonna love the co-op. Seriously I'm getting a bit to hyped out over games these days.

Vasot
Vasot

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

demiath_egge
demiath_egge

I'm playing the first Uncharted now and so far I'm loving every second of it. It's an amazing game that still looks unbelievably good two years after its initial release, the cover-based combat is refreshingly hardcore and the platforming is a lot more solid than anything you'll find in a Tomb Raider game. The original game might just be the single best PS3 exclusive so far, and the sequel looks promising as well. I was a bit worried initially that there wasn't going to be any more tomb raiding in various exotic locations (seeing as the first big gameplay demo was set completely in urban environments), but this update reassures me that Naughty Dog hasn't lost that great escapist feel which made Uncharted 1 stand out from the armada of grey, ugly games out there (Dead Space, Gears of War 2, Killzone 2 etc.). Can't wait!

wars45
wars45

never played 1 but will buy this has its online has well

ethanpaige
ethanpaige

can't wait for this, looks amazing

riou7
riou7 moderator moderator

it looks awesome