Headline: Thick as thieves
Publication: NST
Date of publication: Nov 21, 2009
Section heading: "6"
Page number: 010
Byline / Author: Reviewed by Faizul Azim Saiful


FAIZUL AZIM SAIFUL reviews one of this year's top releases.

Uncharted: Among Thieves

A THIEF looking for heaven on earth and a caped crusader trapped in hell on earth. It's an awesome excursion that gives gamers the best of both worlds.

Uncharted: Among Thieves and Batman: Arkham Asylum (to be reviewed next week) are unmistakably titles that one should have in their library before the year comes to a close.

For the former, the story of Nathan Drake continues and this time, he is on a quest, started by Marco Polo, for the Cintamani Stone, a Buddhist sapphire with mystical properties in the legendary kingdom of Shambhala (otherwise known as Shangri-La).

Drake and new love interest Chloe Frazer are in the thick of a war between mercenaries, led by Zorin Lazarevic, and the local resistance.

It's up to the gymnastic prowess of the archaeological thief again to save the world and prove that there is still honour among thieves.

Drake has been moulded into a more well-rounded hero capable of crawling and leaping between foot- and handholds, swinging from ropes and bars and moving intuitively between cover points, firing pistols, shotguns, rifles and other weapons.

He can also fire one-handed while dangling, and employs a range of stealth takedowns, lurking behind walls and hanging from ledges to haul enemies into long drops or immobilise them with chokeholds.

This might sound like Drake will just cruise through the missions, but no: there are baddies who are very well equipped and are smarter than the average bullet fodder you've taken down in the first instalment.

Drake's gymnastic abilities are put to the test. Strategising where to go before engaging the enemy is vital to your survival. It's also more fun as you can sneak up behind them for quiet kills.

Getting behind an enemy for a takedown is possible thanks to the cover system incorporated in this title.

Developer Naughty Dog sinks its fangs right at the nerve as the methods are easy, intuitive and helps with Drake's thief persona very well.

You now have a partner to share splattering the enemies, help you climb over unreachable walls and move things around.

There's also someone to trade funny quips with.

The puzzle elements which you might expect from this kind of action adventure are not that mind-boggling. There's a hint system that tells you where to go. There's also a little book in your back pocket which helps you with the mind-benders.

The character animations really show their strength. The indoor and outdoor levels are amazing. All of the other small touches such as movie quality, sound effects and the great musical score put the game ahead of the competition.

Visually, the game is even more impressive as it never suffers from any slowdown whatsoever, even during the most hectic of action scenes.

Voice acting is top-notch as Drake and the other characters move you along the well-written storyline in a banter-like manner, sometimes fooling you into thinking that it was never scripted.

Among Thieves is touted as one of this year's top releases. After having dangled through a train crash, chased out from an underground cavern by Yetis, fought with several guards on top of a moving train, hanging on for dear life on the side of a cliff and ultimately seeing Shangri-La itself, there's no doubting it.

* This game can be purchased at Golden FT Trading located in Sungei Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur (03-21418451) and Playtime Electronic in Bangsar Shopping Centre (03-22833018). You can also email ktvideogame23@ hotmail.com.

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