The one thorn in Nathan Drake’s side is the cover system. Every now and again, almost infrequently enough to trick you into thinking there’s no issue at all, Drake will decide that, actually, what you meant when you pressed circle, wasn’t to hide behind that crate. No, clearly you intended to dive into the loving embrace of that heavily armoured, shotgun-wielding enemy. Again.
Such issues occur infrequently, thankfully, and a lot of the time you can avoid a good deal of combat anyway. Unlike Drake’s Fortune which, at least the way I played it, tended to offer you one solution to any given encounter, there are usually a good number of ways to tackle those in Among Thieves. If you’re really sneaky and don’t mind waiting for enemies to move into the position you need them in, whole chapters of the game can be completed without anyone being aware of your presence until it’s too late for them to do anything about it and they’re bidding a friendly “how do you do” to Mr Precipice and the Rocky-Outcrop family.
The sneak-’em-up elements of Uncharted 2 are assisted by Drake’s uncanny climbing prowess. You’re still no Altair and the various settings of the game still aren’t quite as full of conveniently placed handholds as Jerusalem (hello there, Assassins Creed reference), but look around and you’ll generally see a suspiciously convenient crack in that nearby cliff face, or a few jutting bricks to clamber up in order to find yourself suitably placed just below the legs of an unsuspecting grunt, soon to be pulled backwards to his – and it will be his (apparently henchwomen don’t exist) – grisly doom.
When stealth fails, which it inevitably will, and you’re forced to turn to your guns Uncharted 2 can be a brutal experience. You’re still limited to one pistol and one primary weapon, be that an RPG, a sniper rifle or a machine gun and four grenades. That’s all well and good, but when the same button which picks up additional ammo also changes the selected weapon you have a recipe for occasional frustration.
When it doesn’t hiccup, the cover system makes firefights an adrenaline pumping and engaging experience. If you get it wrong, though, you’ll die fairly easily. Stay in the same place and let the impressively adaptive AI flank your position and you’ll die. Decide that swearing at the game is a better solution than adapting your tactics and you’ll die a lot. However, get it right, and you’ll quickly find the right pattern of blind firing, controlled, tactically-directed bursts of bullets and melee charges to take down even the most intimidating of opposing forces.