Once again you play as treasure-hunting wiseguy Nathan Drake as he is solicited into stealing one of Marco Polo's relics. Two new characters are introduced, Harry Flynn and Chloe Frazer, both of whom have a murky history with Nathan. It doesn't take long before you are leaping, shooting and puzzling your way through the wonderful story. The story seamlessly unfolds as you play the game and successfully keeps you directly in the action.
UC2's levels are much more complicated and much larger than UC1's. The whole world is larger and the environments are much more diverse; this time around you are not restricted to ruins and jungle levels. As usual, the platforming is seamlessly integrated into the environment and is often used to great visual effect. You may literally feel dizzy looking down in UC2; people who are afraid of heights have now been warned.
The artwork is fantastic, the Tibetan/Buddhist mythology is spot on and UC2's story has greater depth and length compared to UC1. Buddhist mythology is a vast subject with many facets and I think UC2 manages to balance the elegant artwork with mythological significance without bogging our minds in the depths of Tibetan/Buddhist spiritualism. Many puzzles are quite large, ornate and directly feature interesting Buddhist artwork and themes.
The new cast of characters, especially Claudia Black's Chloe, add so much more to UC2's story. UC2's new characters not only add depth and tension to the story, but they also add to Nathan Drake's backstory. The villain of the piece is also very well crafted, both monstrous and full of memorable evil. UC2's story and characterization strongly demonstrates the superb writing and creativity of the UC series. UC2 also contains some very good lines of resonating dialogue throughout the game.
I have no problem writing that UC2 is a truly amazing game and one of the best sequels ever made. A complete upgrade from UC1, UC2 has lusher visuals, lingering music, improved gameplay and a more engaging story; even the malingering gunfighting elements have been thankfully tweaked. And although gunplay elements could be further improved, they're probably fundamentally hampered by the inaccurate console controller. Hopefully UC3's gunfighting will be further mastered and will be as satisfying as the rest of the game.
In summary, UC2 should easily be a contender, if not winner, for GOTY 2009 and deserves every award it receives. The developers are obviously aiming to be closer to a blockbuster movie than an ordinary run, gun and jump console game and it shows in the final product. Console game designers could learn a lot from UC2's core design elements and lofty goals. If you have a PS3 and love great videogames don't miss UC2, buy it now. I'm going to tell random people in the street how good this game is.
-I take back that Nathan Drake is like Indiana Jones, he is more like Jack T. Colton from Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile.
A warning to players - just like UC1, I still had stuttering problems during cutscenes with UC2. After searching the Interweb, it (probably) turns out my replacement harddrive is too fast for the PS3 to handle, causing sync issues with audio and video. If you have upgraded your internal harddrive with a faster drive you may also experience sync issues, which will wreck your enjoyment of the game a little. Even with this problem it is plain to see that UC2 is GOTY material.