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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Ice ice baby.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Platform games have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Remember when this was all just 2D side-scrolling fields? Now there are huge 3D environments to explore, combat that involves more than jumping on enemies' heads and storylines that aren't just about rescuing princesses. In fact they're not even called platform games any more - it's all action this and adventure that.

But some things will never change. For as everyone knows, every game studio in the world has a copy of the Ten Commandments of Videogames pinned to the office wall. These are mainly directed at the makers of first-person shooters - Thou Shalt Honour the Colour Brown, Thou Shalt Not Introduce the Rocket Launcher Until the Sixth Level etc. But there is one commandment specifically meant for those developing platform games: Thou Shalt Include an Ice Level.

Naughty Dog is not about to disobey. The level they're showing off at gamescom is set in a giant cavern full of dangling icicles and snow-covered ledges. It feels like we've been here before - or rather, like someone we know rather well has. Lara Croft visited an ice cavern when she went to Nepal in Tomb Raider: Legend, and during her trip to Valhalla in Underworld. In fact, Lara's first ever adventure began with her approaching a set of carved stone doors set into the side of a snowy mountain, accompanied by a sherpa in a big hat.

Eurogamer gave the original Uncharted 9/10. Yep, that's how much we fancy Nathan.

So it would seem Naughty Dog isn't too bothered about all the comparisons made between the first Uncharted game and the Tomb Raider series. This suspicion is confirmed as the level demo gets underway, and we see Nathan Drake approaching a set of carved stone doors set into the side of a snowy mountain, accompanied by a sherpa in a big hat. But this sherpa has a name - Tenzin - and unlike Lara's pal, he doesn't meet a sticky end within the first five minutes. Plus, Nathan is wearing attire which looks suitable for exploring icy caves, rather than tiny shorts and a ridiculous poncho-snood hybrid.

As community manager Arne Meyer explains, Tenzin is there to help Nathan overcome obstacles which can only be dealt with by two people working together. For example, they each stand on opposite pressure pads to make a line of stone pillars descend into the floor, leaving the path ahead clear. But you don't get to control Tenzin - you're always playing as Nathan, and he's very much at the centre of the action. It's Nathan who shoots the rock to release the rope trapped under it, for instance, then wall-runs and swings across the giant crevasse.

There was no sign of the sassy blonde in the gamescom demo. Have Nathan's attentions turned to Tenzin?

For all he's a man of action however, Nathan won't be using his gun for any more than that while he's in the ice cavern. "This portion of the game is more about exploration and puzzling than combat," explains Meyer. As it turns out, no combat takes place during the entire demo. This is a little worrying as one of the biggest problems with the original Uncharted was the repetitive, stilted switching between exploration sections and gunfights. But there's nothing to be afraid of, according to Meyer.

"One of the criticisms of the first game was it was a bit narrow and linear," he says. "There's a lot of verticality to [the levels in Uncharted 2]. One of the hallmarks of this game is you can really climb and get new vantage points for combat set-ups, so the levels feel a lot wider."

Sounds like Naughty Dog's taken that criticism on board, then. "In the first game, there were very set times where you were doing the puzzling or the adventuring then entering combat," says Meyer. "We wanted to make it a bit more fluid. We wanted to make sure that would work well. So now you find yourself going between the exploration and the puzzling and the combat within spaces very seamlessly."