Uncharted's Nathan Drake never really struck me as the type to sneak around when he's got a gun handy, but his personal style of stealth in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a surprisingly good fit.
Gamescom had Naughty Dog's upcoming shooter available for play on the show floor, given gamers a first taste of what the game's single player campaign will play like.
The demo opens with Nathan Drake driving a jeep through a city and being forced off the road by a large truck. Players have to run Drake down an alley, as he fires behind him and tries to avoid tripping up and being run down by the pursuing vehicle.
The chase opens into a city street after the truck crashes and gamers are treated to the sort of firefight commonly found in the original Uncharted. There's nothing new here, but it highlights the game's superb graphics and will remind gamers of just how much fun these sections were in the original title.
After clearing the area of enemies, Drake has to find his way around a roadblock of debris, eventually free climbing up and around several buildings to get to the other side.
This leads us to what I thought was the best part of the demo. After landing on the ground from a second floor, Drake sees a couple of armed men walk down the alley. Now you can approach this in several ways. Initially, I ran around after them and just opened fire. This brought what turned out to be a sizable army down on me, and eventually I was taken down.
The second time I gave the level a try, I decided to wait until the men in the alley walked to an open door. One went inside and the other lingered. Walking up quietly behind the remaining soldier, I was able to do a quiet take down. Then I crouched and moved inside the building to a counter. Once behind cover I opened up on the three or so men I saw standing around. I was able to quickly take them down, but a flood of new soldiers ran to the building I was holed up in and were able to again take me out.
The third time I decided to stick with stealth as much as possible. First I took out the man by the door quietly, then I snuck around inside the building, slipping up behind a second guard and taking him down. Unfortunately, a soldier walking by spotted me and I was forced into a firefight with while out in the open and quickly gunned down.
In the next attempt, I took out two with stealth and was able to sneak through the building and grab some cover against a wall. I waited a few seconds to see who was going where and once I identified the guards, saw that no more were coming, I cleared out the ones on the right side of the street with gunfire, took out a solider on a nearby rooftop and then found cover at the end of the street and managed to hold my own into a soldier came in with a bullet proof shield.
In my final attempt, I took out the two silently, cleared the end of the street, found a ladder to the roof top and knocked down the soldier up there with a melee attack and then fought my way through much of the bad guys from the elevated position before having a soldier sneak up the ladder behind me and take me down.
What did all of this show me, besides that perhaps I suck at Uncharted 2? Naughty Dog has done an amazing job of creating an shooter that feels like an open world, a place where you can decide to run in with guns blazing, and if you're good enough, succeed. Or where you can try to sneak your way through entire levels.
The most fun, though, seems to happen when you're able to slip back and forth between these styles of play, gaming by the seat of your pants as you adapt to the enemies and their changing strategies.
There's no doubt that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is going to blow past the high bar already set by its predecessor and deliver an experience well worth the wait.