Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Naughty Dog – 2009 – PS3
Nathan Drake has already appeared on this list, but I knew that his second outing would place in my top 5. Among Thieves is quite literally the perfect summer blockbuster. The original Uncharted was the game I got with my PS3 when I bought it, and while it opened my eyes to just how amazing the new generation of consoles was I wasn’t prepared for the series to become so important to me.
By 2009 when Uncharted 2 was about to be released, I’d already played through the game I bought a PS3 for, Metal Gear Solid 4 and was satisfied that I would never experience anything as good on the console. How wrong I was, as Among Thieves smashed all of my preconceptions and worries of a disappointing sequel and became the single reason to stay with Sony this generation.
The linear narrative style of Uncharted is often dismissed next to the sweeping stories of Mass Effect and GTA where choices you make change the overarching plot. It’s easy to see why a set of scripted events, hit a certain spot and the roof collapses and other more explosive events, frustrates fans of more open ended experiences like Skyrim. All of that said, personally I’ll have the Uncharted experience above any of those any day of the week. It’s a rollarcoaster that never lets up, a thrilling ride that constantly shocks and awes, and without the headache of getting stuck and not knowing how to proceed.
The set pieces in question are just incredible in Among Thieves. The fact that Drake parachuting off a plane thousands of feet above the ground, while holding on for dear life onto a stray loop of rope as he plummets towards an endless desert, was slightly disappointing in the third game compared to the second shows just how epic these events are. The train section has become legendary for PS3 owners, perfecting the ebb and flow of a high octane action movie but providing enough of a challenge to make it feel rewarding.
It’s the characters that make Uncharted 2 for me though, Drake himself becoming so much more than just an everyman here. He makes genuinely bad decisions that impact on not only his own safety but all of those around him, a cast that expands to include the double crossing Flynn and the always enjoyable Chloe both of which add a new layer to proceedings. Elena makes you fall in love with her all over again, her growth throughout Among Thieves making her one of the industry’s most believable female characters. Give Sully a bigger role in this game too and you have the best cast of any game that isn’t Metal Gear.
Technically brilliant, it’s the heart behind the scenes that has given Uncharted 2 the edge here for me. It’s such a realised world, and the characters have real emotion with Drake in a way that’s difficult with the self created characters of more open ended games. An adventure I’ll always return to, Among Thieves is the first of my top 5 favourite games.
How can I play it? – I’d recommend playing through the first game to get to grips with the characters first, but it isn’t essential. Uncharted 2 is pretty easy to find cheap in shops or online, just be sure to avoid the horrible boxset of the first two games with it’s horrendous yellow box art.