'Uncharted 2' Finds Gaming Treasure

The larger problem with the combat comes in the seemingly unnecessary "boss" fights. No one is saying "Uncharted 2" is a realistic game -- Drake will likely be shot hundreds of times over the course of the game with no ill effects -- but when suddenly one enemy can survive repeated shots to the face simply because he is a "boss" seems out of place in a game that is otherwise so consistent.

The strategy makes sense when Drake is battling, say, a helicopter, but not a mercenary officer. It only makes sense again once the story takes a supernatural turn.

Platforming: Jump Here, Don't Jump There

The game's greatest limitation is undoubtedly its strict linear nature, especially when it comes to the climbing sections. While many games are linear, most offer at least a couple ways to get from here to there. In "Uncharted 2," not only can you not go another way, but the game physically limits you from trying.

When Drake is hanging from a ledge in a Nepalese village for instance, the player may think that a ledge is close enough to jump to, but unless it actually is, the jump cannot be attempted. While this makes for far fewer deaths due to a player's misjudgments, it also takes the adventures out of the climb.

Often there is only one direction Drake's arm reaches -- meaning he can complete the jump -- and even if the player has no idea why he'd want to go that way, he does because there's no other option.

On the ground it's a little better, but not much. Drake is afforded a few options in the more open sections, but choke points force entrance and exits pretty clearly. Drake cannot explore far off the obvious trail, meaning several of the game's "hidden treasures" are usually within a few strides. For a game based on exploring and treasure hunting, players will have a hard time doing both.

Multiplayer: Adventures With Friends

For what is decidedly a first-person adventure game, "Uncharted 2" features an impressively robust multiplayer option. With a battery of add-ons and upgrades, the multiplayer version of the game allows the player much more customization.

The gun play and cover system translate well into multiplayer, giving the cooperative and death match modes added depth. The cooperative levels take place in the same places Drake climbed and shot his way through in the single player version, but are tailored for teamwork in combat.

Visually speaking, the game is gorgeous. From a moonlit boat ride in Turkey to dangling precariously off a ledge in a Nepalese village at sunset, players will often be caught of guard by the landscape at Drake's back.

The game's many cut scenes often roll right into the action -- sometimes literally -- so the player is actually playing with the incredible graphics they just witnessed during a cinematic crash or rescue.

With some of the best beauty and brains of any Playstation 3 title to date, "Uncharted 2" is its own treasure for adventure-lovers this year.

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