UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Naughty Dog, Inc., 2009)
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc.
Game Director: Bruce Straley – Creative Director: Amy Hennig
Art Direction: Erick Pangilinan, Rob Ruppel – Lead Environment Artist: Teagan Morrison
Lead Character Artist: Richard Diamant
Before publishing one of the most successful franchises in gaming history, Naughy Dog was already famous for the Crash Bandicoot and the Jak and Dexter franchises. I’ve never played the first one, a corridor-based, action-platform, brawler-as-mario-can-be-intended, but I remember as it was yesterday the second one, possibly the first really-next-gen game on Playstation 2. Jak and Dexter: The Precursor Legacy (2001) stroke me for many reasons, the two most important being the 60 frames per second, something really unusual for western developers at the time, and the almost limitless depth of the scenario. On such limited consoles, it was almost impossible to see far distant in the background. The background itself was often a low-rez bitmap representing some snowy-foggy mountains. In J&D, on the contrary, background scenario was made of low-rez polygons, capable of conveying the impression of a huge, palpable, present and reachable map. This meant two important things: Naughty Dog knew how to handle the power of a new console and knew how to design great games out of dejà-vu mechanics. A quality more evident in the Uncharted franchise and its inspirations.
Uncharted is the bastard son of Gears of War and Tomb Raider. From the first it picks the third-person-shooter-cum-cover mechanics, from the second the gusto for exploration, treasure hunting, mistery, supernatural. From both it takes the best of, but unfortunately this happens only in its first two episodes. Starting from the second installment, Among Thieves, Naughty Dog is a company on a mission: finding the formula for the perfect mix of gameplay and interactive narration, which culminates with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and its quasi-failure. Among Thieves is in my opinion the best among the three episodes, because it’s more fluid and dynamic than the third and is more huge, spectacular and accomplished than the first.
Uncharted 2 cinema-mode is great on multiple levels. It allows to control almost everything on screen: sunlight, brightness, field of view, adjust depth of field and focus and also tilt the camera to get unusual, arty angles. This photo-mode and Halo‘s are in my opinion the best available on console. WipeoutHD‘s too is really great, but misses some of the important options present in this one, consigning it to a second, honorable place. Concerning this portfolio, I portraied all the maps present in the multiplayer mode trying to provide my visitors any possible eye-candy on all the locations and main characters of this installment. If I had to pick the best quality among the overall game-design under a photographic point of view, I’d say It’s character-design: really mature and natural-looking. Characters are cute if not beautiful, yet they look very natural as anyone of our school friends or neighbours could be, and that’s a great point in the overall value of this astounding product.