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Uncharted 2 Day#2: Welcome to the Jungle

Day 2 in Uncharted 2 is a lot of plot, although it fits will within the slightly cheesy, roguish behavior. The game is still a mixed bag for me. The art is stunning, the narrative isn’t anything deep but it’s got good energy, and there is some fun exploration and fighting. However, there are a lot of times where the game is relying on me to find a specific path through a scene without any strong feedback when I’m on the right track. The session ends on a major frustration that I am really hoping resolves quickly on day 3. Spoilers within.

I go back into the game with a little retracing; it turns out that there are checkpoint style saves in this game. I’m back on the roof, making my way to the tower. There’s a nice animation as I keep climbing — a monkey bar thing where I’m climbing across  a ravine and then have to shoot a guard while hanging. I run around the roof and die once from a mistimed jump. Then I get to the tower I have to enter, or I guess I do. I’m sort of following the obvious paths in the level here. The lights are still on and Drake CS doubts Chloe’s holding up her part, but the other guy doesn’t. The lights then go out almost on cue, and after a quick climb, I get to the final room and Flynn lowers rope for me to enter.

There’s a CS in the room of Drake and Flynn finding the lamp.  Flynn unlocks the case and Drake shatters the  lamp. There’s a strip of leather inside with no writing on it. Drake then sees a resin in the remains of the lamp. He burns it (wait — why do we have to do this here? Why didn’t he take it to burn later?) and glowing writing appears on the leather. The text reads that Polo crashed in Borneo near some big mountain we need to find, apparently after finding Shangra-la. Drake and Flynn put out the flame and go, but Flynn pulls up the rope before Drake gets up.  Flynn tells Drake that he knew about the ships in advance and is now cutting Drake out.  He shoots a display and keeps Drake at bay until the guards are in hearing range and then Flynn leaves with a pithy farewell.

I get control back and now I have to avoid red lasers that represent the aim of the guards. I’m supposed to use cover to avoid the lasers but they always seem to find me. I don’t really get it. I wander around a room for a while without direction, and then finally spot a door. I run towards it but it closes before I get there, and when I try to jump down some nearby stairs, I get shot and die. I respawn back in the room and manage to get out of that scene. I run out into square, and I still don’t know where I’m going.  The laser stuff is just weird. I find an entrance into the sewer after a bit of exploration. I run down the tunnel and end up in a larger underground room with attackers in a balcony surrounding me. I die there because I don’t see an exit and can’t avoid the lasers for very long. After that death, I get to the sewer exit, but as Drake CS exits, he’s surrounded by Turkish guards and caught.  Man, do I not like it when games have me struggle to avoid a goal just to end up in a CS where it happens.

We cut to Drake in prison CS three months later. Some guy named Sully shows up (I bet he’s from the last game)  to get me out. Drake and Sully talk a little,  and then Chloe shows up, explaining that she told Sully where to find Drake. Thinking Chloe was in on the betrayal,  Drake is pissed and won’t listen to her. Sully  says Flynn and his client found the ships but did not find the special stones yet.  Drake agrees to go along to get the stone first. We cut to a library.  The stone they’re after is supposed to be a wish giving stone — some kind of huge sapphire. The team has to go to Flynn’s tent to get the notes to find the gem.  As Chloe is still a friendly face to Flynn, she can distract them. This becomes a brief joke about her seducing Flynn, but Drake meant she could set some explosives; it’s an awkward joke that doesn’t really work. Boy, her eyes are weirdly glittery. Anyway, Sully’s on board to get the gem, and we cut to Borneo as Sully and Drake run through the woods.

The CS ends. Chloe (via radio) tells us she put explosives all around the camp, and we have to arm them. I find the first explosive (it’s a flashing light in the forest) and when I approach it, I arm it CS. We  see two guards ahead.  I supposed to be quiet but I don’t see how I can approach them without being caught. They see me and kill me in a hail of gunfire. When I restart, I just go through guns blazing and kill ’em all. I pick up an assault rifle in the post-fight looting. I don’t see any more explosives yet, and I can’t see the easy way to go. The jungle environment is very pretty and lush, but it’s  not at all obvious what’s the right direction in the jungle terrain. Oh there’s a log bridge I didn’t see. Crossing the bridge, I run right into another fight before I realize it. This time, I quickly kill them. We approach a camp where there are more bombs, but I have to clear the camp before we can arm them. I do manage to stealth kill the first guy, but I  still don’t understand these stealth controls. The stealth takedown seems to work when it wants to. I blow the second stealth kill and enter another firefight.  I die in the middle of this one, and then die again in the same fight when I respawn. I finally kill the remaining guards and go about finding the explosives. They are little green flashing lights so they’re not easy to see. I find two quickly but finding the last bomb takes forever, and the hint is TOTALLY useless. I wander around a long while with no clear sense where I’m supposed to look. I find a ladder I’m going to need a boost to reach, but nothing I do sets up the boost. I finally find the last bomb behind a dock, and we’re done. Now when I go back to the ladder, I can boost him up the way I wanted to like an hour ago. We go up the ladder and keep traveling, and I can’t help noticing all of the pretty birds in the space.

We get to a new area where Drake  CS watches some guys below us doing something to a machine. A guard CS finds us and disarms Drake, and when I get control back, I’m forced to fistfight the guards. The set-up is cheap, but the fight is cool and I put them down handily. I  then have to follow a hose to camp (Sully gives us that tip). This is  the start of Chapter 4 a title card tells me. There’s  CS of us approaching a camp. Drake and Sully see Chloe, Flynn and the client. The client is upset and we watch him kill a guard over a minor theft. Drake needs to get into the client’s building to see his notes, so we CS detonate the explosives. As the baddies run to see what happened, I go in. I start trying to stealth and I do pretty well this time . I get into the client’s room without detection and when I do, Drake CS sees all of the files the client has. He finds the journals that describe something about dreadful cargo and challenges. Drake learns that Polo never had the stone, and it turns out the client is actually looking for Shangra-la,  because that’s where the stone is.  Drake further observes that there are no bodies here, so Drake knows that Polo’s people went to the mountain.

The goons come back while Drake’s looking and he ducks. I get control back and now have to finish off the returning soldiers. I die once because I don’t know where shots are coming from, but I learn how to use grenades and so I clean up the guards with some fun effort the second time. After several waves of enemies approach, I finish them off, and now I have to save Sully from attack. However, I didn’t hear his message for several minutes, and so he dies and I have to start again. I die again a couple of times, mostly because I don’t know where Sully is and there’s no clear path in the jungle indicating where I should go. After struggling with this over several tries, I call it a night.

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