Today marks Uncharted 2: Among Thieves’ 10 years and one-day anniversary. Yes, I’m a day late but I don’t want to lose the chance to honor one of my favorite games. Uncharted 2 escalated and improved everything from the original, making it one of the best games in the series and, as some would argue, one of the best games of all time. Even listening to the epic soundtrack while I write makes me want to hunt for Shambala all over again for maybe my tenth time. I have to resist the temptation because I still want to finish Days Gone and start Control before The Outer Worlds comes out (dang, gaming is expensive).
I get sidetracked. As a late birthday gift, I will rank some of my favorite chapters of the game. To be honest, all of them could be on here but without further ado:
6. Path of Light
Nathan Drake and Chloe explore a huge chamber with one beam of light shooting into a huge statue on the ground. This will obviously turn into a classic mirror puzzle but the environment is what makes this chapter. In order to reach some of the mirrors, Nathan Drake has to climb a huge dagger hanging from the ceiling. I always get goosebumps when I’m almost at the top and the music starts kicking in. The resolution to the puzzle is fun as well, with the dagger stabbing the huge statue, causing his mouth to open up and leading our heroes to climb down its throat. The great part about this is that Uncharted took a classic video game puzzle, redirecting light beams with mirrors, and escalated it with the puzzle chamber itself. That’s the best part about Uncharted puzzles, is not necessarily the difficulty, but the uniqueness of the puzzle designs and the setting. Not to mention the banter between the characters.
5. Cat and Mouse
This is just one of the many movie-like set pieces in Uncharted, but it’s definitely a fun one. Have you ever wanted to see Nathan Drake fight a tank? Well here is your chance. The whole mission has Nathan and Tenzin desperately trying to avoid an enemy tank while gunning down the invading sources. The tank could appear at any time causing the player to scramble to cover. It almost drives off a cliff while Nathan is climbing and he, of course, has to ponder out loud if the driver is drunk. The chapter ends with the player running around finding RPG ammo to destroy the tank, all while avoiding its deadly attacks and the no-name grunts that want to kill Nathan so badly. It’s a great set-piece but Uncharted 2 has so much more to offer.
Let’s take a break from the tank fighting and go on a peaceful stroll through an ice cave festering with Shambala guardians, or as they are more commonly referred to – big blue guys wearing yeti costumes. The action in this chapter does not pick up until the end, but the best part is seeing Nathan and Tenzin interact through a language barrier. You can tell that they both become friends and gain mutual respect for one another. They also save each other’s lives multiple times so there’s that. The other great part of this chapter is the build-up. Tenzin and Nathan stumble onto evidence that they are not alone in this cave. The player knows something will happen. It’s just a matter of when. The build-up hits its climax with an excellent camera angle zooms back to reveal a monster watching our two friends.
3. A Rock and a Hard Place
Nathan Drake wakes up with a bullet wound in his side, but that’s the least of his worries. He looks out a window to see the side of a mountain. It is cold and nothing is right-side up. He falls and grabs onto a railing at the last minute. The camera zooms out and we realize Nathan is hanging off a train, which is hanging off a mountain. This is the start of the game. When most games start with a tutorial, Uncharted 2 starts like this. Nathan then has to climb up the train, which is slowly sliding off the mountain. The creativity and placement of this chapter make it one of the best in the series and later entries have failed to make an intro chapter that can live up to it. It also keeps the player intrigued in the story as it leaves you wondering: how the heck did Nathan get himself into this situation?
2. Desperate Times
The best part about this chapter is jumping into a pool to try and get Chloe to play Marco Polo with you. I kid, but it does highlight the great banter between characters that Uncharted is known for. The actual best part is jumping across rooftops while a helicopter shoots rockets at you. Everything about this set piece is great from its very start. Nathan is just climbing across an unstable structure, as he often does when a helicopter shows up out of nowhere to shoot him. What follows is a great combat encounter that culminates with Nathan fighting grunts in a collapsing building. The player then has to jump out of the building at just the right time to break through the window of a neighbor building and get to safety. Poor Nathan, always getting caught up in these situations.
1. Locomotion/Tunnel Vision
I know, I’m cheating, but Locomotion and Tunnel vision is like parts 1 and 2 of the same chapter. Remember that train hanging off the mountain from earlier; now we get to find out how that happened. Spoilers, Nathan shoots conveniently placed explosive barrels that send the train flying off a mountain. These two chapters are Uncharted at its peak of set pieces. Nathan has to fight through your favorite nameless enemies on a moving train while a helicopter hunts him down. Not to mention, he eventually gets into an Anti-Aircraft gun to shoot the helicopter down, fights with two heavily armored guys with Gatling guns and gets into a boss fight. These chapters are the excellent combinations of gunfights, platforming and set pieces. It’s definitely a set of missions that no gamer will soon forget.
What are your favorite moments from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves? Let us know in the comments below!