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Uncharted 2 Day#4: Back on the Train Again

Day 4 is a long session as I try to gain some time before new releases come out. First things first. This game is beautiful. There are just wonderful visual moments that stop you in your tracks. The narrative takes some interesting if a bit quick turns. More cool set pieces appear and the exploration and climbing gets more intuitive as I learn some of the clues on what I can interact with. But there are still some places where the hints were mandatory for me, and there’s a moment where I may have detected some cheap dynamic difficulty adjustment. Much more good than bad, but this is a very particular type of game and that’s going to determine whether you remember the great shots or the inscrutable puzzle. Spoilers within.

We come back with Chloe and I running to a blocked door which I then have to find a way to climb around. I’m not taking a hint this time dammit. I get to a roof after a little exploration, and up there is a nice totally meaningless set of environmental effects when I knock down some 2x4s. I get to the other side with more exploration but when I go to open the door, I get killed by guards I didn’t see and couldn’t seem to damage (a little cheap).  Oh, guess I can’t fist fight a guy with a shield, something I learn when I die again. I’m resetting to just arriving outside, and I die a third time on a stupid jump. It’s a hard fight, but I finally get through it. It’s all about hitting the shielded guy at the right time, and lobbing some grenades before you get to the ground to thin the enemies out. I shoot the lock to free Chloe, and together we kill more snipers.  One kill is a quite cool shooting up from under a fire escape. Enemies gone, I boost Chloe up said fire escape, and get into room with wooden slats blocking a door. Not sure what to do with the slats. Fumbling with the controls, I accidentally throw grenade and have to run not to kill myself. It’s stupid but the explosion takes out the slats.

We enter chapter 6 seamlessly as we go through the door. We hear gunshots as we enter a new area. There’s CS of Drake and Chloe talking and they peek around a corner and see a ton of guards in front of a building. Drake thinks there are too many of them, but Chloe wants to take them out with a grenade. Drake has to sneak up and take out a guard before she can throw it. They have some more banter — good voice-acting here, and then I get control. I sneakily kill some guards pretty well, including a guy with an RPG, but then die in the subsequent gunfight when Chloe throws the grenade. When I die, I GO BACK TO BEFORE SNEAKING. Sigh. I die again the same way, and curses are on my lips. It’s a LONG fight, but I get past it the next time and into the building just in time for another wave of reinforcements. I kill a guy in a machine post with a grenade and it’s so cool. I die once, then get through it. That last fight leaves us at hotel we’ve been looking for, and surprise surprise, we have to climb it. It takes a little exploring but I’m now figuring out the symbols here (e.g. climb signs).  Once I get inside, I have to fight new kind of armored guy who I kill with repeated head shots. We go in an elevator once those guards are down. There’s a CS of the two characters in the elevator as the power goes out. They pry open door and Chloe pushes Drake out. Drake has to get a generator back online at top floor to get Chloe out. Away I go.

More climbing up with lots of guys to shoot along the way. I eventually get to a top room  and have no idea where to go. I die once an from accidental fall, but then notice a series of bars on the exterior of the building that I can climb across. I get back in the building and find  the generator after a long time of exploring. Generator on, Chloe exits the elevator and joins me. I need hint to find a ladder to the roof; I have to remember to look up from now on. We get to a roof pool. There’s a just wonderful moment where I jump in the pool and I get two achievements (“Marco” for going in, “Polo” for getting her to say Polo) with nice supporting dialog. That is maybe the best tangential achievement I’ve ever gotten. We climb to the very top of the buildiing. In the  CS of them on roof, Drake sees the temple and Chloe observes it’s in the middle of the war zone. Her radio barks that Drake was spotted. They see a helicopter being sent after them, and they wisely decide they have to run.

We zip line to another building after a little search and wrong direction — it’s a nice set piece. We’re stuck on the next roof by a collapsed walkway that we have to figure out how to cross. I die once falling and I die once trying to jump the obviously suicidal gap. I figure out that I have to shimmy across a plank that goes over the hole. As I do, the heli appears and shoots out the plank.  I fall back on to the other side. It’s a rapid run to cover across a set of balconies. It’s an exciting run, even though I die once because the game misinterprets X as a hang instead of a jump. The second time I make it. I kill the guards on other roof while being shot at by heli. The heli is still there though. I pick up a gas can to throw at it, but heli shoots the can and the subsequent explosion kills me. I try again and waste all of my ammo trying to shoot heli before I finally realize what I’m supposed to do is run. We get to another building and jump in a hole into the interior. I get hit by set piece explosion inside, but keep running. There’s more fighting and dodging heli as we move from room to room. Then we reach a final room, and after killing a couple of guards, there’s a explosion caused by the heli’s rockets and the floor starts moving as the building collapses. I die once when I slide wrong(?) I die a couple more times I guess because I fall in the wrong spot  as the building falls.  This part doesn’t feel fair; I have no idea why I’m dying. I get out of the scene by a dumb luck jump that lands us on a new building.  There’s more fighting on the roof, and guards eliminated, now it’s time to kill the heli. There are lots of grenade launchers around for me to grab, and after several grenade shots, I kill it.

There’s a new bridge with the helicopter explosion, and we run and climb away. I miss a jump on to sign and die once. Past that jump is a new zip line. Chloe makes it across first, but the line snaps on me when I cross and I’m end up on the street. Chloe’s going to meet me on the ground. I run around/climb around the building. CS, Drake sees a guy with a camera who he threatens, backs off from, and then gets tackled by. He’s with a woman I seem to know.  They are journalists, and she’s a do-gooder here to catch a war criminal who also happens to be Flynn’s client. I think Drake used to date her. Chloe arrives and she and Drake have a flirty conversation about whether this woman broke Drake’s heart. Drake says they have to come with us. Chloe jealously says no, and that you dance with the one you brought.  Drake agrees but they are still coming with us. We see the heli again and we all run away together.

It’s a new fight to start chapter 7. I beat the fight with the four of us all shooting. Clearing that scene, we run down a corridor and open doors to a see strong river we have to cross. We can’t wade it, so I climb around to find a way over. I look for like five minutes before I decide I need a hint. It turns out  I have to use a propane tank to dislodge a car in the river that will then somehow help me. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HOW ON EARTH WOULD I FIGURE THAT OUT?  I do it, throwing the can and then shooting it. I have to blow up the cars a second time to get them in position. This is a totally non-intuitive puzzle, and accordingly not fun. We get across to face another fight. There’s a machine gun turret I have to take out, and I do so with a clever climb and grenade throw. I then man turret myself  to eliminate the remaining opponents — quite fun. We resume climbing, and as I shimmy across a sign see a tank go by beneath me. Jumping down from the sign, we get to the temple. It’s a CS as we approach. The reporter asks what Drake he’s after. He starts to explain about Shambala and the client. Chloe tries to stop him from talking, and she drags him inside the temple when she’s sees the heli. All four enter, and once inside, the reporter says the client would not be after money so the story’s not making sense.  Chloe drags Drake into the temple, leaving the reporter and guy behind while they explore.

This starts chapter 8.  Drake asks if Chloe thinks the reporter and guy are a couple; Chloe responds with a grunt. I find another treasure as I wander around in a nice surprise. We go into a main room and in here, we need to find entrance into the deeper temple.  Chloe references a big statue with a globe in the middle of the space. The game prompts me to check my journal for notes. I have a diagram of the four-armed statue, and it seems I have to get its hands into the proper positions. It’s a bit of climbing to pull that off. When the arms are in the proper positions, the globe opens. In CS, Drake reminds us dagger is a key and there’s a hole for it behind the globe. I climb up and put the key in.  Water drains out of the central pool and reveals a door. We enter it. There are  lots of pretty temple walls with glyphs of trees; they don’t know why the trees are there. As we continue down the corridor, a set piece pit opens and we fall in. The pit ceiling springs spikes and starts coming down. I get crushed a couple times before I realize you have to shoot the teeth off of gear that controls ceiling fall. See, this is a nice puzzle. Ceiling dealt with, we exit the room.

We enter a new room, and it’s chapter 9. There’s  big tower in the center of the room with three arms that unfold up to the ceiling. Oh it’s a light mirror puzzle — how original. At least it’s short. I get the light at the right thing which gives me an area to put the dagger/key in.  One arm of the tower drops to point back towards the ground and the goal is clearly to get all of them down. I climb that arm and get across to a statue on the other side. Climbing on the statue’s eyebrow opens a light source. That leads to another brief reflector puzzle and a key turn which drops the second of three arms. I climb again.  This time the arm breaks as I’m going across it to the last statue. I just shoot the light open and then  jump to a new area.  Final reflector puzzle and key turn, and the tower (which now looks like a giant version of my knife) drops and turns. This opens a trap door in the mouth of a statue covering the ground (quite striking, that ground statue). We climb down and Drake CS puts the dagger in the final lock. In the center of the room, a circle bubbles up to form mountains, and that model gives Drake the location of the entrance to Shambala. They get ready to kiss, but hear people coming and have to run.  Drake takes the dagger, and I get control back.

Chapter 10 starts as we climb out of the mouth and get into a big fight in the dagger room. It takes a while but I get through it no problem. We working our way back out fighting, which is slow but steady progress. The reporters are gone when we get back to the temple entrance, but we find them again when we fight our way back to the street. The guy has been shot. Drake CS helps him up. Chloe wants to leave him because he’s going to die, but Drake won’t do it. This starts Chapter 11. I have to carry the guy as we run away. It’s a lot of running (albeit slowly) and fighting. There’s a really neat moment when Chloe gets jumped and I shoot the guy off. A truck appears midway through with a machine gun, and when it shoots, it causes a weird bug where the reporter ends up floating in the air from an explosion of gunfire for far too long. I try to run past the truck, but an invisible wall blocks the door I saw and I die a cheap death. I find another way around and we end in a long CS of Chloe trying to get them to climb down a ledge and leave the guy behind. Drake refuses to leave the guy, so I guess he’s a good guy after all. Chloe turns on Drake when Flynn arrives. The client shows up as well.  Chloe goes away and the client shoots and kills the wounded guy. Drake tries to make a deal where the reporter gets set free and he’ll take the client to Shambala. Flynn searches Drake and finds map Drake marked in the model room. Not needing the deal anymore, the client leaves Flynn to kill Drake and the reporter. The reporter punches Flynn and Drake distracts the guard and I get control back as we run. It’s another nice frantic scene; Uncharted 2 is very good at these. I die once at a blind jump. I realize I need to do a particular climb, and when I get to the other side, there’s a nice set piece where she jumps and I catch her.  We seem to have gotten away, and there’s a CS of them hiding in a room. Drake announces he is going after Chloe, and has to go to the railway to find her. The reporter questions him since Chloe turned on him, and makes the inevitable “honor among thieves” line. The reporter decides she is coming along and we head to the water tower that overlooks the railyard.

Welcome to Chapter 12. There are lots of guards outside. We sneak across roofs until I can take one down for a new gun and then kill the rest. We’re blocked by a locked door as we exit, and I have to get door open for her. I climb on to a big sign outside the building facing the other side of the door. I need hint (for no reason, I’m just not looking) to shoot planks off of the door. Door opened,  enemies attack while I’m clinging to the sign. It’s a lot of switching from one side of the sign to the other, and I kill them with only three bullets left.  The reporter lowers bridge for me to get across, and we’re at the water tower. In CS over the edge of the roof, we see the railyard.  Flynn’s got Chloe, and so Drake’s going to the train.  The reporter’s getting a getaway car in the meantime.

I zipline down to the yard and can’t seem to go anywhere when I hit the ground. I need a hint (for real this time) to learn I have to push a cart out of the way and go into a warehouse. Again, how could I have guessed that — it has a totally new control to do it too. I go inside the warehouse. I explore and climb around, and along the way, I find more treasure. I exit the warehouse by releasing brake on a train car in here and letting it roll through a garage door. There are a bunch guards outside and I end up in the overturned train car I rode out here facing the train as it starts to leave. I die several times thinking I have to catch train and getting shot as I cross the yard, but then the game tells me that  instead I have to hold ground for Elena (that’s the reporter). I die once because Drake can’t find cover despite my repeated X tapping, but then I hold them off. The second wave has some mini-gun guys, but that wave lasts like fifteen seconds before Elena shows up. There’s CS of us in jeep. Drake tells her to floor it so he can catch train. He jumps on train and leaves Elena on the jeep behind.

Chapter 13 starts with me running across the train. This is a quite cool horizontal climbing scene. I fight a bit, and bad jump kills me once. There’s more fighting with another cool machine gun take down. In the next car, I get knocked off of train twice by a overhang set of lights. This is a new rhythm of getting off the tops of the car when the bell indicates an overhang ahead. Halfway through this scene, the overhangs change to side obstacles that knock me off the sides of trains; I die once figuring that out. Oh, there’s a new heli — great.  I run along the train into a combo of fighting and overhangs. I die once from damage as guards pop up, and die once from a new overhang. Once past that scene, I get into a car that has a RPG. I shoot heli and then I have to tap triangle in a qte to open a door before the heli shoots the car with a missile. I fail the qte once, but then I get through it, and when I do, there is a BEAUTIFUL shot of train behind me exploding as we enter a tunnel. Kudos, Naughty Dog, that was just plain gorgeous.

Chapter 14 begins as my train quest continues. Another fight as I run across the train cars. I die once because there’s a guy behind me I didn’t see. I get past that fight and am then killed by an overhang. I redo the scene,  stealthily sniping guys and dodging overhangs. There’s a CS of an enemy leader sending lots of guys after me.  There’s a long steady movement forward as I kill the goons who pop up along the way. There’s a CS of minigun being brought into place. I  die once as I approach the minigun because there’s a log truck that I can’t grab on to for some reason. I die twice more before I realize I have to shoot the locks off of the log truck. This causes the logs to fall off of the car and that takes out the minigun as well. As I land on the now empty car, the  heli returns.  I have to man a tank turret on the next car to kill it. I die 2 times as the tank I’m in explodes. Oh I have to shoot down the missiles the heli fires — it’s a Rez boss. I start that tactic, but I still die a few times. Is it getting easy as I keep failing? I think it is — that sucks. The time I win, I feel like it only takes me half the time.

Anyway I get past that to a boss fight with the leader I saw before. It’s a nice combination of shooting and fist fighting. I take him down with punches. Drake CS takes dagger back and starts heading forward again, but the boss gets back up and jumps Drake, choking him. The boss gets shot and the camera pans to show that Chloe shot him. Drake’s happy to see her, but she tells him to get off the train. She says that he made his choice, and she doesn’t want his heroics. He tries to explain how much he’s done for her, but she doesn’t want to hear it, so Drake says she deserves Flynn.  Drake then gets shot, but it’s Flynn who fired, not Chloe.  Flynn tries to kill Drake as he flees but Chloe stops him by knocking his arm out of the way.  Flynn sends guys after Drake. Drake crawls into other car and shoots a propane tank in desperation. It explodes, the train goes off tracks, and I’m back where the game started, hanging from the back of the car over the cliff.

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