Two years ago developer Naughty Dog set aside Jak & Daxter, striking gold with the adventures of Nathan Drake in the original Uncharted. Now Nate triumphantly returns in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune gave PlayStation 3 owners one of the most cinematic action-adventure titles ever created, filled with high-flying platforming, tense gunplay, and most importantly, characters with more personality than many game developers could ever hope to achieve. Nathan, Elena, and Sully are now joined by even more compelling characters in the sequel, which promises an even richer cinematic experience. This time around Naughty Dog has even included multiplayer so we can take the adventure online.

Did one of the best PlayStation 3 franchises just get better?

Don't get me wrong: I really enjoyed the original Uncharted, but the combination of cover-based third-person shooting and Tomb Raider-esque exploring didn't quite gel together as well as I'd hoped it would. The gun-play at times felt too twitchy, the cover system caused a few headaches and there were some terrible vehicle and on-rails sections - and for what was predominantly a third-person shooter, the lack of multiplayer seemed like a wasted opportunity. Well, it seems as though developer Naughty Dog had very similar feelings; the sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, is a superior game in practically every way. This is the very definition of a triple-A must own title.

The great storytelling extends to the character development, which has been turned up a good notch or two. Almost everyone with more than two lines of dialogue has an interesting reason for doing what they're doing (though the main bad guy is just bad), and the way that everyone interacts with one another is realistic and interesting. Almost every character is unpredictable in some way, but not in a forced or unnatural manner. The story itself twists and turns throughout the course of the game, as you might expect, and for the most part it's a solid tale. Nate and his pals go through a lot, so it does a good job of reeling you in and keeping you hooked until the end.

Vandal Online (Translated from Spanish via Google)
If platforms include more dynamic on stage when he or move by climb, shootings have also evolved. In the first game we had a great deal of coverage, but the scenes were sometimes too linear and hallways, but wide, where we found ourselves on one side and enemies on the other. Uncharted 2 In the scenarios are broader, although still running from point A to point B, and coverages are more dispersed. The shootings do not happen from one side to another, but in areas through which we move, outflank the enemy, being outflanked, we throw a grenade and have to flee to another side and the enemy (enemies) do the same.

That mystery, once illuminated by the lost writings of Marco Polo, flares to life through restrained exposition and underpins the game's puzzles, which continue to rely on your reading of Drake's journal. There's less mechanical invention here than in the game's imaginative cross-country train sequence or a final act with a touch of the 1925 Lost World about it, but there's reasonable satisfaction to be had unlocking the entrance to an underground temple by reconfiguring a Buddhist monument, or rotating gigantic tumblers in a sunken ice fortress, and more importantly the circumstances of each brainteaser are infused with the right level of urgency and a convincing sense that only Drake, through his actions and acquisitions, could be in a position to solve challenges of the ancients left in plain sight for so many centuries.

And, once you complete that delicious blend of combat, cinematic storytelling, and visual/aural spectacle, there's also multiplayer. At press time, I've only played some of the beta and a handful matches with other media and Naughty Dog personnel, but I can at least say this: multiplayer isn't a random, bullet point tack-on. It takes the great "movement plus gunplay" mechanic of single-player, and adds live players to the mix. It feels different than, say, Gears of War; here, it's about balancing shooting against running/jumping/climbing. Plus, your single-player moves work as well; players can neck-snap unsuspecting foes or, sneakily climb up to a ledge and instantly throw them over the side. There's no shortage of modes; competitive multiplayer include Deathmatch, Elimination (last man standing), Plunder (CTF), Turf War (capture-and-hold), and so forth.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves succeeds in as many ways as possible: It had me telling myself "just one more chapter" from the first to the 26th. It made me laugh at jokes and mutter in annoyance at characters. And for a moment at the end, touched me. I'm not one to say something is the best ever or to dole out perfect scores, and Uncharted 2 does have its share of trivial issues, but to date, Naughty Dog's second adventure with Nathan Drake appears to be the best experience hitting a console this fall.

One of the best gets even better