It Ain't Perfect: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
"Uncharted 2 received so many perfect scores, is there anything it does wrong? Well, yes, there is."3 "The bread and butter of Among Thieves is by-the-numbers shooting, broken briefly by some linear platforming and the occasional light puzzle."5 "There's not really a lick of originality ... It would have been nice to have at least something for the game to call its own,"7 and "it's unfortunate that the gameplay doesn't scale the heights of the production values."5 "No, Uncharted 2 is not perfect."8
"Uncharted 2's storyline is more or less predictable. ... The story sounds like the premise for a cheesy and easily forgotten novel"2 and "contains a number of not-so-surprising twists."6 "The story isn't incredibly original,"7 and "felt a bit too familiar at times."8 It's pretty much "standard action fare"5 with a "forced 'warfare' feel."9 "The reasons for Nepal being a bombed-out shell provide a few eyebrow-raising 'really?' moments."9 "Not everyone will be fond of the game's concluding location -- or, rather, what Drake discovers there ... [and] few will argue that the climactic confrontation is a fitting way for [the game] to bow out."4 What's more, "the writing doesn't have quite the same panache or character chemistry as the original."9
"The gameplay isn't perfect -- the cover mechanic is too sticky in tight places."6 The game's "less than perfect cover system"1 includes "a cover mechanic that [feels] like a slightly clumsy version of that in Gears of War."9 No, "moving from cover to cover still doesn't feel as slick as it does in Epic's Gears of War series, with Nate occasionally refusing to do what you want him to."1 "Cover transitions can get you stuck in some precarious moments."3 For instance, "it can be frustrating during some of the more intense battles if you find yourself sitting in the open air when you meant to hide behind a nearby desk."6 Yes, "the occasionally unreliable cover system provides a larger frustration in the heat of competition."5
The game's "less than perfect cover system"1 includes "a cover mechanic that [feels] like a slightly clumsy version of that in Gears of War."9
"The game is still very much a linear tale, taking you from point to specific point."8 "Linear paths lessen the impact of the bigger environments. You simply cannot go wherever you please"3 and "you don't have ... much latitude in how you tackle the quest itself. ... There's no free roaming, and no choice in which missions you tackle when ... there's just no flexibility in the level design to allow you to freeform."7 "Sandbox devotees may bemoan the linearity of the entire experience."4
Despite the linearity, it can still be hard to find your way. "If you're somewhere and there isn't a door, you know that you need to look around for something that you can grab to begin climbing. It's sort of a, 'well, I don't know where this'll take me, but it's the only thing I can do' sort of scenario."8 "The gameplay, especially in the second half, starts lending itself to a fair bit of experimentation before you finally 'get' the best way to advance."3
"Platforming in Uncharted 2 never poses as much challenge as the trickiest sections in Eidos' most recent Lara Croft outing."1 "The level navigation ... [is] just far too easy. Jumps almost feel automatic, and dying only occurs when you become impatient. When you do try to treat it like any other platformer the sluggish controls rear their head and teach you to do exactly what the game is asking you to."7 "One of these bigger problems deals with the same camera/control quirks. The situation becomes precarious when you have to jump from platform to platform, as the perspective is sometimes out of whack with the analog control and can lead to a few untimely deaths."3
"[The] platforming sections limit exactly what you can climb on ... and there's some inconsistency when it comes to climbing obstacles."6 "The climbing paths are still very linear, and from what I was able to tell, there's only one way through most every section."8 "You often can't interact with surfaces that seem like they should be climbable. ... This ... chisels away a bit at the believability of your actions."6
"One complaint that we had with the first game is still present here: you'll get to rooms of enemies where soldiers just keep on coming, wave after wave."8 "Come the game's climax, the player's [likely to let out] a chorus of swears as the game begins to play dirty, throwing legions of rocket launcher toting foot soldiers and unseen snipers into the mix."5 "It's a little aggravating to get into a fight, clear the room and then have a half-dozen more guys walk in and start shooting up the place."8 "It ... makes for very frustrating gameplay -- especially as the checkpoint placement isn't overly generous during long, drawn out firefights."1
Aside from the regular combat, the boss fights "feel frustrating and out of place. Supernatural involvement aside, I don't see why I should ever have to fight someone who can take 100 bullets to the face and laugh it off."2 "One boss encounter halfway through the game pushes this philosophy to an agonising extreme, his semi-naked torso absorbing clip after clip of rifle ammo."5
And "the gunplay's ... relentlessness becomes weary towards the finale."5 "Uncharted 2 involves a lot of killing, our first-playthrough tally of felled foes almost reaching the 1,000 mark. With the game running at a rate of about 90kph (kills per hour),"4 "throughout the running time all that seems to change is the amount of punishment the enemy can take."5
"Linear paths lessen the impact of the bigger environments. You simply cannot go wherever you please"3
"The ... increased emphasis on stealth, [is] easily the low points of the game -- thanks mostly to moronic enemy AI."7 "During the game's stealth segments, ... enemies are sometimes less attentive than a horse with blinders. ... it just looks silly when I can sneak up -- to the point of touching an enemy, as long as I'm in cover -- or when an enemy doesn't notice my big ol' head sticking out of a box."3 "Likewise, the intelligence of non-playable partners... is completely absent in the heat of play. Indeed, it's hard to see them having any impact beyond acting as light relief from the wall of gunfire that echoes through much of the game -- leaving an AI partner to fight alone in one instance inspired little more than an awkward dance from the enemy, their barrage of bullets having little effect."3
"The puzzle content [is] hardly an evolution of the original's simplistic equivalent."4 "The puzzles are far from challenging."6 No, they "really aren't very taxing, with Nate's journal usually holding the key."1 "Most of [the puzzles] are mere speed bumps between the dozens of set piece moments."7 In fact, "a few lever-pulling puzzle sequences are long to the point of tedium."9 "These quiet moments are not as entertaining as the action sequences."6
Welcome to the second in our occasional series of "It Ain't Perfect" review round-ups. As should be obvious after reading through this example, this series takes negative quotes from a selection of overwhelmingly positive reviews for a well received game and assembles them into a completely negative whole. Any positive context surrounding the quotes has been deliberately removed, but rest assured, each complaint here was definitely meant as a complaint in the original review. The point isn't to deny the quality of what's generally regarded as a great game, but to call attention to the small sticking points that can be easy to overlook amidst the waves of praise for the biggest, most anticipated titles.
One interesting note: Despite my best efforts, I simply could not find anyone writing anything negative about the game's multiplayer mode. Reviews consistently called it the most entertaining and balanced multiplayer experience they've played in a good long while. So if you're looking for a good online fight, there's really nothing I can point to to dissuade you.
For a slightly more balanced look at Uncharted 2, check out our review.
Previously on It Ain't Perfect: Street Fighter IV