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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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'Uncharted 2' An Instant Classic

(5/5 stars)

Featuring one of the most exciting single-player adventures I’ve ever experienced, as well as extremely addictive cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” is a game that all PlayStation 3 owners need to have.

One of the best aspects of “Uncharted 2” is how likeable its characters are. Nathan Drake deals with situations that go from bad to much, much worse with a nervous laugh and a joke. Whether he’s escaping a collapsing building or fighting off a helicopter from on top a moving train, Drake always delivers a one-liner that makes the game that much more enjoyable.

The entire cast does a terrific job with voice acting that is leagues beyond most games. Drake’s love triangle with old flame Chloe Frazer and “last year’s model,” Elena Fisher, from 2007’s “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” simply wouldn’t work if they hadn’t been played so well. The stellar performances give “Uncharted 2’s” story the feeling of a good summer blockbuster movie.

But what keeps “Uncharted 2” so thrilling is the larger-than-life set pieces and impossible odds it constantly throws at Drake. From start to finish, the man takes a ridiculous amount of punishment, but it’s all incredibly fun to play. The game’s opening tutorial, for instance, starts with Drake, battered and bleeding, barely hanging on to a train car that’s precariously dangling over a snowy cliff. As far as video game tutorials go, that’s about as gripping as it gets.

Anytime Nate is doing something completely death defying and stupid, but totally awesome nonetheless, you are in control. There are no cut scenes that seem unfair because they aren’t playable. The cut scenes here help move the story along but save all the best action for players to experience themselves.

The story is a modern day Indiana Jones tale that has Nate globetrotting in search of Marco Polo’s lost fleet. Along the way, he’ll have to climb buildings, snap necks and shoot a lot of bad men. Think “Gears of War,” but replace all the gratuitous, bloody chainsaw deaths with acrobatics and variety. “Uncharted 2” has so much going for it, with over-the-top scenarios, great characters and satisfying gameplay, that I ended up beating the entire single-player campaign in one 10-hour sitting.

What really surprised me, though, was just how good the cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes are. The co-op essentially drops you and two other players into locations from the single-player mode, but with completely new objectives and more enemies. Sharing the experience with other people is really enjoyable and rewarding in its own way.

The competitive multiplayer is fantastic as well, featuring all the standard multiplayer modes like team deathmatch and capture the flag, but because the characters are so nimble, the level design allows for more freedom of movement. Matches really benefit from the verticality of the environments; there’s nothing more gratifying than sneaking up behind a sniper, perched on a high ledge, then snapping his neck and watching him fall to the ground.

“Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” is one of the best games to come along in years. It’s beyond gorgeous, a blast to play and offers endless entertainment. If you own a PS3, buy this game.