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Customer Review

51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Fine Games for One Fine Price, November 2, 2011
This review is from: UNCHARTED Greatest Hits Dual Pack - Playstation 3 (Video Game)
Uncharted 3 is out now. But for those who want to take the plunge into the third one and want a refresher course (or who just never played the first two) this combo pack is here. There is more than one reason to take a look at the first two Uncharted games. The first is to see just how great the are. The second is to really see what video game sequels are all about. How Uncharted 2 in particular outdoes the first in every way, shape and form. We'll get to that.

The first thing one needs to know is that it isn't necessary to play the games in order. Uncharted is episodic in the sense that while Uncharted 2 might make references to the first game, it is it's own separate story. Key characters return, sure, but it slips into things so well that you don't have to really be too big on the inside jokes or anything like that.

The first story centers on Nathan Drake's quest to find Eldorado. As a descendant of Drake he is pretty smart about finding lost treasures and following clues to connect things. Here he wants to search for the Lost City of gold following clues that he has left behind. Along with his partner Sully and love interest, Elena, they travel across the world. Along the way they face pirates looking for the same treasure. What unfolds is a story that is so much bigger. What has often made the Uncharted games fun storytelling is that the games themselves have relatively simple stories... but they have fun, charming characters. The writing is fantastic, the sense of humor impeccable. It goes to show it isn't just the idea the story has going for it, but how that story is presented. Clearly Uncharted has borrowed cues from Romancing the Stone, Jewel of Nile, Tomb Raider and (most obvious of all) Indiana Jones. It's action packed, with spectacles all around.

There are three things to know about the Uncharted games. They are separated into three segments. Platforming, puzzles and gunplay. Platforming is often done by scaling walls and jumping from one structure to another. It's mostly straightforward stuff. You have to be precise from time to time but the game balances it out with the puzzles and gunplay very well. Puzzles are often simple. If you ever get stuck you can always refer to Nathan's journal for hints and solutions. The gunplay is often the best part of the game. You'll usually engage with two weapons. A long arm and a pistol of some sort. Switching between the two you hide behind cover and pop up to shoot. You can also toss grenades and beat the crap out of your opponents with your fist. It's all relatively simple. The first Uncharted also tried to make use of the sixaxis by by having you balance when walking across logs or when throwing grenades. Two of the most annoying quirks about the first game.

Uncharted 2, on the other hand, pretty much went above and beyond the first in almost every way. Where as the first begins with you on a boat digging up a coffin. Uncharted 2 opens literally with a bang. You're in a train teetering off the edge of a cliff and you have to climb out before it goes. But you've also been shot and you're bleeding out. The game then flashes back to the events which lead up to it. Like the first, Drake has found information about a famous explorer. This time Marco Polo. Apparently he found the lost city of Shambala and now Drake must find it. Sully and Elena return but we're also introduced to new characters such as Chloe and Flynn. But more than that, the story really amps up this time around on both an emotional level and on an adventurous one. The villain, for instance, is much more threatening and lethal. You won't find yourself in fear of the first game's Gabriel Roman by any means. But Zoran Lazarevic is so much more intimidating.

There are tons of areas where Uncharted 2 does better than the first. Even in specifics to gameplay. The platforming is more refined. Even more than that the gunplay is the most well tweaked. You now have a reticle for blind fire. You can throw grenades seamlessly and fighting hand to hand is simpler. It's complete with counter attacks. The story also paces so much better. The first Uncharted had a few big adventure moments such as a short jeep chase, but Uncharted 2 had so much more. A daring chase across rooftops as a Helicopter tries to gun you down, a fantastic train sequences, a game of cat and mouse with a tank... and it keeps pace brilliantly. Because of all this refinement with pacing, storytelling and gameplay, Uncharted 2 is pretty much the go to example of how to make a sequel better than the original. It outdoes the original in every way.

The second game also had a multiplayer where you could go into Team Deathmatches. You could also do a variation of Capture the Flag (called Plunder) and King of the Hill (Territories). It's actually better than it seems and was strangely addictive. There was also a co-op arena in which one could easily play a variation of horde mode where you survive an onslaught of enemies. There is also a gold rush mode where you take an idol and try to put in a chest before all the bad guys catch up. There are also co-op levels, but they're the least rewarding of the bunch. You can also equip boosters to give you strength or small perks.

Uncharted 2 pretty much reinvented Uncharted... but didn't actually change too much. If you play the first one the gunplay is actually very familiar. So is the cover system, platforming etc. What Uncharted 2 does is refine all this to be better. It addresses all the odd quirks with the first and makes for a smoother experience. This does NOT make the first game bad in any way shape or form. It is only to say the second game spoils you with what it does. So much so it's hard not to have unusually high expectations for the third. The game is even prettier and more detailed than the first... and that is VERY hard to do.

Speaking of which, it is a strength of Uncharted in general. They're fantastic looking games. But more than that, the voice acting and writing are among the best in the industry. Few video games look or sound as good as the Uncharted series. The music score is also brilliant. It sounds epic and somber. Joyful and chaotic. Each composition provides a nice compliment to all of the situations.

With being able to experience the games in this manner, Uncharted 1 and 2 are games that show just how far video games have really come. Certainly they are linear. Most games that have a huge focus on character and story tend to be. And likewise, the games don't let you get too far ahead and their campaigns are short... but these are all clearly creative choices. Not every game can throw in everything, I'm afraid. What makes Uncharted work, however, is how well it blends everything together and paces from one moment to the next. The competent nature of the design more than makes up for these things. In part because the structure of Uncharted could've easily been a mess.

In the end they're actually two fantastically designed games. Ones that most gamers might be at home with thanks to how well they're constructed. If you haven't played the Uncharted series yet, this is a good and cheap way to jump in.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 20, 2012, 9:56:30 PM PST
Mr.Turner says:
Great review you gave a lot of detail and helpful information about the game I think ill get this thanx to your review once again great job.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012, 9:44:36 PM PST
Elizabeth K says:
Your review was fantastic, but i'm just adding that the Uncharted trilogy is one of the best video game trilogies ever made (not just for PS3). They quite literally are the modern-day Indiana Jones, and they do a service at showing it. I really want to see an Uncharted 4, and maybe a fifth, but they have to end it on a truly epic and emotional note, because Drake's Deception was a landmark in video game history
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