Well guys I've waited a long time for all these fantastic responses and I really hope I can get 2 more of these done before I leave you all and return only at weekends. This has probably been the most diverse and democratic VP's I've done far. Probably because any gamer worth his/her salt will have played Uncharted 2 Among Thieves.
I'm sure you've all been playing the new beta and are comparing it back to Uncharted 2's gameplay and controls so it's the perfect time to re-examine the flaws and successes of Among Thieves and yes, there are flaws in this game if you look hard enough and are as picky as some the VP regulars that have been helping me out so far.
So here are your thoughts, with my thoughts, together as a whole. If we're lucky we might find some common ground, if things turn out like they usually do then it'll be incredibly dull and littered with hyperbole, nitpicking and opinionating. You've all been very positive, which is great for NDC but it has meant I've had to play through Among Thieves again to remind myself of its weaker aspects in order to provide some balance to the otherwise universal praise.
So here we have it, the greatest Vox Populi so far thanks to the response from the community. As always if you're reading this and didn't manage to answer the questions but have opinions, send them to me via pm or the comments and I'll add them in, you may even get a special citation in the title (stephenage fared well in this regard with Dead Space 2).
1. In terms of story Among Thieves a better game than Drake's Fortune?
Iridescent406: Considering that the story is equally fast paced and formulaic as the first one, I'd consider them equals.
Koi-Neon-X: I like the story in Uncharted 2 better.
dylan417: I liked the story of Drake's Fortune better, it was more of a thriller.
Me: it certainly was a more focused narrative and it felt less contrived than the first. That said I preferred the first one a whole lot more because there wasn't an overload of characters all trying to take the spotlight at once. Nazi's? Really Naughty Dog? Anyway it was a better written story but not as cohesive or personal as the first game, too many characters and not enough motivation for Drake other than "we have to stop Lazaravic because…" He's a treasure hunter not a moral force and Naughty Dog lost some of that halfway through.
spooky102: I think I go with Drake's Fortune there but Among Thieves still had a brilliant story.
Travo_Basic: I liked the story better.
2. Was Uncharted 2 too combat heavy? Is it becoming more of a third-person shooter than an action- heavy platformer?
Travo_Basic: It certainly more focused on combat, but the gameplay is much improved, especially places to hide and throwing grenades.
Me: Yes I did write these questions and yes I'm one of the few who say Uncharted 2 was even more of a slog than the first game. Levels like Siege and The Dig are ones that when I get to them, I quit and go to the next part. Why? Because Uncharted 2 tries to be a blue-blooded shooter in those sections instead of the superb mix of combat and platforming that we saw in levels like Desperate Times and Locomotion.
dylan417: Not at all, climbing the small villages was way awesome, I missed the jungle though.
Koi-Neon-X: Combat heavy? no I think the right amount of action was used.
spooky102: I think it is a great mix of both. I found the puzzles and platforming sequences fun and enjoyable and same goes for the shooting. I'd say it is an Action/Adventure game which it is that mixes a lot of elements to make that keep the action and adventure alive.
Iridescent406: Uncharted 2, to me, had a perfect balance of fighting and shooting. But it really depends on how you play it. You can either be strategic and try not to get up close and personal, or you can just run in like a freak and hope for the best haha.
3. Did Lazaravic and Flynn present better antagonists than the trio of Raja, Roman and Navarro?
Iridescent406: Yes, I felt like there was a tighter focus on the villains the second time around.
Koi-Neon-X: Yes! I think they played their roles beautifully and it the betrayal hurt
Me: I certainly appreciated Flynn as I'm nasty and British but I could see Flynn's betrayal a mile off (I have seen Indiana Jones movies before Naughty Dog). Sadly we still haven't seen a true rival to Drake, someone who manages to embody the true antithesis of Nate while still being charming and likable. As I think either Bamul or stephenage (there have been so very many VP's to write up) said "A true villain should make you doubt your actions" (this is a vague quote that may or may not be accurate and I'm bound to be reprimanded for it.)
And Lazarevic was well written and acted but poorly explained. Just because Elena says the word "genocide" doesn't mean he's automatically the axis of evil, and the old "stab the guy who disobeys orders" routine? Please. He was much better than Roman as he's legitimately nasty for sure but the Joker or Rodrigo Borgia he is not.
dylan417: Way better.
spooky102: In my opinion yes.
Travo_Basic: Yes, Lazaravic is ruthless and an ass. I didn't like how they bounced from one head bad guy to another in Uncharted, so Uncharted 2 has the edge
4. Should Uncharted games continue to be focused around classic treasure mythology, ie: Shangrila, El Dorado and so on?
Iridescent406: Most definitely. These games are built around the concept of a likable treasure hunter that goes around doing some very un-human things, just for history. Plus the whole historical value adds to the possibilities of environments and enemies (like the yeti's in the second game). It can be done with other concepts, but why change when you're 2/3rd's done?
Me: I wouldn't mind seeing Naughty Dog expand their view and dream up their own mythologies. But for the moment I'm loving these new takes on old treasure mythology even if it's a bit far-fetched. As long as they keep away from the Ark of the Covenant then roll on say I.
dylan417: For sure.
Koi-Neon-X: Yes! I love this aspect about the series, the whole Indiana Jones swagger.
Travo_Basic: Most definitely yes.
spooky102: Yep cause I can see that's where it works best.
5. What gameplay improvements were made to the Uncharted formula over the first game?
Travo_Basic: Melee has improved as well as grenade throwing/tossing. You have snealthy ways of sneaking up on enemies: breaking necks, slamming them against the wall. It has certainly improved.
spooky102: The puzzles were a lot harder and well took more time to beat and I think the shooting mechanics were improved which really boosted gameplay.
Koi-Neon-X: I think overall movement felt much smoother in the sequel (I dunno).
dylan417: the shooting and movement was very much improved.
Me: The shooting controls, weaponry feel, animation and platforming was greatly improved. It's now a functional shooter unlike the loose and unwieldy control of the last game. I'm also much more inclined to throw a grenade now Sony has loosened its grip on Naughty Dog's special places so you don't have to use Sixaxis.
Iridescent406: Grenade throwing wasn't a pain in the ass, and overall it felt like a tighter game. Naughty Dog pretty much improved everything, from covering to platforming.
6. What did Naughty Dog do wrong in the sequel?
spooky102: In my opinion, almost nothing. Can't think of anything right now.
Iridescent406: I honestly can't say they did anything wrong in the sequel, besides not involving the multiplayer modes enough, but that is a very small complaint.
dylan417: Location was kind of boring
Travo_Basic: Not really sure, maybe they need ma little more exploration, but I enjoyed the heck out of the combat.
Koi-Neon-X: The last part of the game kinda left me going "huh?" and the last boss fight is not something I didn't really enjoy other than that it is great.
Me: As mentioned before, the game strayed uncomfortably into Gears territory, play Reunion or Siege and you may or may not get what I mean. The story still is pretty standard fair, we've got to the stage in games now where it's not enough for a game to be similar to Hollywood because Hollywood these days is pretty dreadful. Naughty Dog didn't really take any risks with the narrative. Control hasn't managed to get back to the responsiveness of the Jak games by the second game which is a shame, I'm rather sick of bouncing and stumbling.
7. Are the forays into quasi-supernatural themes effective? Should they return in future games?
Me: I must sound so negative but NO get rid of the damn things. Remember Halo, the first one. It was all perfect and revolutionary until we met the Flood and hey we have a zombie shooter it's not actually a revolution after all. Drake's Fortune made that mistake and although the Monkey boys in Among Thieves were at least fun to fight it would have been much better if they had stayed as horned monsters rather than purple people who have lived thousands of years because of a tree.
I'm fine with the supernatural as long as it's real people interacting with it. Please please let there not be any more zombies or gorilla folk. That last act was ridiculous but I put up with it because it was fun and dead gorgeous.
Koi-Neon-X: No. I didn't like that at all. I think it should be kept realistic and kept away from the mystical/supernatural.
Iridescent406: I think they're effective. Like I said earlier, they open up new opportunities for more variety.
dylan417: Both Uncharted games have a touch of fiction to them, 1 with the zombies? and 2 with the boss fight.
Travo_Basic: Yes, why change?
8. Was the multiplayer a worthwhile inclusion? Should it become a major part of future Uncharted games or remain as a solid extra?
Koi-Neon-X: I didn't think so at first until I tried it out and yes multi-player is a ton of fun.
dylan417: It was a huge factor. It gave the game longevity at no cost, seeing how the sp seemed fully polished.
spooky102: I think the game should be focused most on the single-player campaign and when you're done with that or when you just feel like it you can play the multiplayer but I believe it shouldn't be more multiplayer based like let's say in COD games. I prefer the single player campaign and then the multiplayer is a great addition but doesn't beat the single player campaign. So yes, it should have multiplayer but developers should focus more on single player than multiplayer
Iridescent406: Definitely, I can't wait to see that same improvement from the first game to the second game done with the already awesome multiplayer.
Travo_Basic: Multiplayer is my favorite mp of all time...so much variety.
Me: I never played the multiplayer for the longest time, maybe 6 months. I just finished the single-player 3 times and got on the Ratchet and Clank and Mass Effect 2. I came back and I adored it, I still play it today. Because it's simple, like Halo 2 used to be on the xbox. Just a load of people having fun in brilliantly designed maps. Now? Well it's no secret that I'm not a huge fan the latest beta because it's all Naughty Dog is talking about. Multiplayer is an extra, it can be deep and rewarding but it should never, ever take precedence over singleplayer, in any game.
I want it there, but I want more story co-op, more variations of the great hoard mode uncharted 2 had.
9. Can Nathan Drake evolve any more as a character after Among Thieves? Will he continue to sustain our interest and enthusiasm in the series?
Iridescent406: I think he'll stay the same, for formulaic reasons. But by the time he's stared in 7 or so games, I think he will have over stayed his welcome.
Me: I don't think he can evolve any more, but who cares? I don't especially love his character, for some reason I prefer Naughty Dog's Jak to Drake but it doesn't mean I don't want to give up the charm and humour that Drake provides and what so many other games fail to do in monumental proportions. Always preferred Victor "Goddamn" Sullivan anyway and as long and Chloe is there I'll forgive Drake of going stale which he inevitably will.
dylan417: I think he is fine the way he is now, he just has that natural charm.
Koi-Neon-X: I think as long as there is treasure to go after Nathan Drake can and will sustain my interest.
spooky102: We'll just have to wait and see for Deception.
Travo_Basic: It looks like the way they're going in 3, exploring his relationship with Sully.
10. What can Naughty Dog do to make a better Uncharted? Can they best their previous work here?
spooky102: Let's see but I think the series should maybe end with Deception so as to make it a trilogy because usually after a trilogy the later games start to suck but let's hope that doesn't happen if Naughy Dog do decide to make more Uncharted games.
Koi-Neon-X: I think Uncharted 3 is going to best the previous entry.
Me: They can improve the game by making the single-player with greater focus on variety and pacing rather than the set piece action direction of Among Thieves. If I can play Uncharted 3 for 30 hours like the last game before thinking about trying out the multiplayer then things have gone well. Less combat as Naughty Dog's controls can't compare with Gears so it's pointless trying to make situations where that kind of gameplay is required. More exploration would be nice too, if we could just have a few levels where we had to search for clues as to where to go, think L.A Noire with climbing. Much more puzzle solving, this is a treasure hunting game after all. Finally and probably most importantly, Naughty Dog needs to lock itself in a cupboard and make the game that they want to play, because when they do it's perfect, when they don't? well we get disappointing sequels like Jak 3, it wasn't bad but it was nowhere near as impactful as the second game and you got that "just more of the same with gimmicks". Let us hope we won't be feeling Naughty Dog déjà vu.
dylan417: To not end the series in a kart racing game like they did with Jak and Crash But really, the series is so damn good, I have no clue how the game could get better other than tech and a stronger story.
Iridescent406: It's really hard to say at this point. Uncharted 2 pretty much nails everything, from campaign to tightness to design choices that compliment its play style. Multiplayer is something that'll need improved, and from what I've seen, they have that well underway.
Travo_Basic: Only time will tell, possibly with next gen.
This has been a fantastic VP guys, there's been a very slight level of fanboyism but that's fine for a game that is so very deserving of it. I've decided to err on the critical side based on my artificially set high standards in the name of glorious, glorious balance. My thanks to all of you for contributing to this Vox Populi and it really has included so many more of you guys than the last one, we may not have thousands of words but that's okay because nobody wants to read an essay here. As always, send me your answers if you are reading this a missed out and I'll add you in, who knows I might put your name in lights.
I hope you'll send in your suggestions for my last one after Infinite. Although I can only promise that Infinite will happen, I waited extra long for this one so I only have a week left.
This was adam1808, who has a Tibetan ritual dagger in his pocket for the lovely Chloe