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As a sucker for a good story, I’ve been fairly disappointed by game developers recently. They seem to focus most, if not all, of their attention on multiplayer online play and eye-candy graphics. Where’s the plot?

“Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” is my answer.

After playing the action adventure/shooter, there is no doubt in my mind it’s the best script ever produced for a video game, and the rest of the game follows suit.

Video game developers at Naughty Dog aren’t the first to do a great job with voice acting, graphics, game play or plot, but they are the first to do them great simultaneously. The plot, which is woven perfectly into the game, has the protagonist, Nathan Drake, hunting a sacred artifact and outwitting and outshooting his enemies, Indiana Jones style. The plot is told through in-game dialogue and cut scenes placed perfectly to hide load times. The game seamlessly crosses from cut scenes to game play, leaving spectators guessing if they’re playing or just watching. The plot of the campaign mode picks up about two years after the original “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.”

The lead character, Drake, is rejoined by the original cast and some new characters during the adventure. In “Among Thieves,” the actors have really fleshed out their characters to be on par with Hollywood’s best.

In-game graphics are as good as I’ve seen on any console and beat just about every computer game, save “Crysis,” which only runs on computers sent back from the future.

To me, the most notable visual difference from the first game is the explosion from a hand grenade. In the first game, grenades produced little flaming mushroom clouds. Now, they realistically explode with a flash and leave behind smoke and dust. Such small improvements accentuate the realistic depiction of the lush jungles, urban sprawls and ancient ruins in the game, which are all done with the utmost care.

As for game play, it’s as fun as it gets. The combat system is more user-friendly than the first. Getting your cross hairs on target is much more intuitive and the cover system seems to be a little more fluid than the first.

The platforming, while seeing a definite improvement, is a tad forgiving. Drake seems to almost guide himself to some of the jumps. However, firefights are as tasking as they can be without becoming frustrating. Together, somewhat easy platforming and challenging gunfights produce an extremely well-balanced experience.

There are also online multiplayer and cooperative modes. Both are well made and deserve more space than I have here. I will just say they are as fun as the campaign and add immensely to the replay value of the game.

In an attempt to find the con for this game, all I came up with was the initial load time. It seems to take forever. But as I mentioned, all subsequent load times are hidden behind cut scenes.

“Among Thieves” is more than just the latest entry in a niche that began when Harry first ran through the jungles of “Pitfall!” in search of treasure in 1982. When all its elements come together perfectly, and they come together often, it stands as an example of how to make a perfect adventure game.

Platform: PlayStation 3

On the Web:www.unchartedthegame.com


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