Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2 is fast-paced and entertaining, but contains a bit more potentially offensive content than the first.
Michael Caleb - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Violence: Guns, blood, explosives, falling death, beatings, neck-breaking, stabbing, executions, and bludgeoning.

Spirituality: Game is based around the "Buddhist holy grail," Buddhist and Hindu imagery.

Language: All of the mainstream curse words are used other than the f-bomb. God and Jesus are used as interjections, and G--d--- is used.

Adult Content: Jokes about sex, anatomy, and sexuality. End of a scene implies sex. Painting shows bare butts.

Miscellaneous: Stealing from a museum, but non-lethal means are used to deal with the guards.

Positive: Nate refuses to leave companions in danger.

Online: More explicit language may be used by other players.

Story

Nathan Drake’s propensity for adventure and arcane historical matters causes him to fall in with Flynn and Chloe, and together they plan to track down Marco Polo’s lost fleet.  Unfortunately, this requires them to double-cross Lazarevic, a megalomaniacal millionaire who has a seemingly endless supply of expendable foot soldiers to do his bidding.

Uncharted 2 is not a literary triumph, nor was it intended to be.  However, it is entertaining, well-written, and funny, and the story-telling more than augments any deficiencies the plot itself might have.

Audiovisual

This game has been lauded for its graphical brilliance, and it is fairly easy to see why.  Character models dynamically adjust to show wear: snow will stick to Nate’s clothes, and he will be visibly wet after emerging from water.  On a larger scale, the various environments that Nate will find himself in are all beautifully rendered, whether they are inside or out, humid jungle or snow-covered mountain.  However, some scenes are pre-rendered, and often look worse than those in realtime, but this was most likely done in order to cut down on load times in a game that doesn’t even have optional installation.

The voice-acting is once again topnotch.  The actors chosen for each role have voices and acting skills to fit each of the characters they speak through, and it does nothing but reinforce the writing and action.  The delivery of lines often has such perfect timing that it can cause many memorable moments throughout the course of the adventure.

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Gameplay

Although Naughty Dog has included some new gameplay features, it has brought back the polish and attention to minute details that truly make a game greater than the sum of its parts.  One of the greatest improvements is that mercenaries no longer share a hive mind, so just because one knows where you are doesn’t necessarily mean that the others do.  This finally gives some meaning to fallen columns and other low barriers: mercenaries will often continue to shoot where they think you are, allowing you to catch them by surprise.

This lack of omniscience also allows stealth to play a larger role in the gameplay.  In the first Uncharted, stealth kills were accomplished by running up behind an enemy and using a melee attack, but enemies would invariably know exactly where you were once this was done.  This marginalized stealth kills as introductions to full-fledged gunfights or the occasional exploitation of a distracted enemy.  Uncharted 2, however, has these same stealth attacks, but also includes stealth attacks performed while hanging, around corners, and over low barriers.  There are even two weapons that can be used to silently incapacitate your enemies.  In some cases, gunfights can be completely averted through the skillful use of stealth, and this variety of approaches to precarious situations allows this experience to be more dynamic than the last.

Some of the situations that Nate will find himself in are amazingly realized, and there is little more I can say than that without ruining them.  Suffice it to say, these situations involve dynamic environments that will affect how you play the game.

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Violence

Uncharted 2 is a violent game; there is no way to sugar coat that.  By the end of the game, the body count will be high, and there is no avoiding that.  Nate can use various guns, from pistols to gatling guns, explosives, heights, his fists, and neck-breaking grapples to deliver bloody death to his adversaries.  Enemies can also die from their own carelessness, such as standing on top of a speeding vehicle, but not realizing that they are about to pass a low barrier.

Besides the violence inherent in the gameplay, there are also violent moments within the story: a man is fatally stabbed in the stomach, a man is shot in the head off-screen, a man is shot in the stomach, men are impaled upon trees, and a man is severely beaten, with the strong implication that he is killed.

Certain characters are injured during the course of the story, causing them to stumble around while covered in blood for quite a while.

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Spirituality

The entire game is centered around the Cintamani Stone from Hindu and Buddhist traditions, which is frequently referred to as the “Buddhist holy grail.”  Because of this, Nate finds himself in many locations that contain Buddhist or Hindu statues, including temples with idols set up.  Many of the treasures in the game are also Buddhist or Hindu relics and artifacts, and imagery from both traditions is in paintings and other artwork found throughout the game.  There are also more subtle allusions to the two traditions, such as billboards that promote yoga, entries in Nate’s journal that portray concepts such as the Noble Eightfold Path, and a funeral ritual that is held during the last scenes of the game.

SPOILERS

On the more supernatural end of the spectrum, there are creatures that Nate refers to in his journal as, “Demon Yetis.”  The search for the stone also leads the adventurers to search for the mythical Shambala/Shangri-La.

In actuality, the demon yetis are blue-tinted men that have been transformed by the Cintamani Stone, which is actually the sap of of the Tree of Life, into near-immortal guardians of Shambala.  Nate is forced to use the sap against a certain enemy, thanks to its explosive properties.

END SPOILERS

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Language

Hell, d—, b—-, a–, and s—, are used variably as interjections, stand-ins, or insults.  More mild language is also used, including pissed, bastard, jerkweed, and a character using a vulgar term for male anatomy as a reference to double-crossing another character.  The f-bomb is not dropped, but Nate’s journal does have the acronym “WTF” written in the margin of a page.

“God” and “Jesus” are used as interjections and exclamations at various times.  “Swear to God” is said, and G–d— is written a number of times in Nate’s journal.  Since the journal is almost necessary for certain puzzles, there is no real way to avoid seeing it unless you are satisfied with meaningless trial and error.

Adult Content

There are jokes about male anatomy, foreplay, prostitutes, using sexual seduction as a means of deception, and sex in general.  Nate refers to Sully as a “dirty old man,” and writes about creatures from the first game as, “slippery naked guy,” in his journal.  A painting is found that shows bare butts, while a realistically rendered woman straddles a man, who then places his hand on her butt, and sex is implied.

Miscellaneous Content

Although it was mildly alluded to in the first game, Uncharted 2 requires the player to guide Nate through outright thievery near the beginning of the game.  He is forced to harm innocent guards in order to steal an artifact from a museum.  To his credit, he refuses to use guns, and the stealth attacks simply knock them out instead of actually killing them.  He does cast a particular guard from the top of a building into the water a few stories below, but an observant player will notice that the guard begins swimming to shore shortly after.  Still, the reckless carelessness that could have easily caused death to an innocent in real life must be noted.

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Positive Content

Nate refuses to leave anyone behind, no matter how burdensome and injured they are.  Even when pressed, or told how foolish he is being, he carries them along or goes after them, putting his own life in danger in order to protect those that he can.

Online Content

When playing the online cooperative or competitive modes, there is no way to control what people say over a microphone until after they say it.  Therefore, playing online can lead to being exposed to language far worse than what is noted above.  Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to play online.

Conclusion

Naughty Dog’s second entry into the Uncharted series makes improvements to the first, but also contains more content that one might find offensive.  The language and sexuality have been increased, as has the religious content.  With these points laid out, decide for yourself whether or not that content will have a negative effect on you.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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