When Uncharted 2 came out in 2009, it wasn’t the multiplayer mode everyone was raving about. Multiplayer was a first for the series, but the real talking point was the single-player campaign. The multiplayer wasn’t bad; in fact it was halfway decent. But apart from the more vertical gameplay it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before.
Now before you get too excited, Uncharted 3 does not stray from that same formula, although it does build upon it in some interesting ways. Seeing the success of the campaign in Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog has tried to include more ‘cinematic set pieces’ inside the multiplayer.
You can see a bit of that as far as the two maps included in the Beta. In Airstrip there is a neat little segment on a runway where you can jump from truck to truck, and truck to plane, but after the tenth time of playing it, you really wish you could just skip ahead to the plain old shooting. In Chateau the upstairs of the mansion catches on fire, and the floor crumbles, which changes up the map slightly. There are a few more destructible things in both maps. The only problem is that you might not see these events happen as you are playing. In fact I was oblivious that these even occurred at all. It took me many a game before I was finally in the right place at the right time to see something happen.
There is definitely more climbing and traversal in the Uncharted 3 multiplayer. Heck, there’s even a zip line in there! And that’s what sets it apart from most other multiplayer shooters; climbing up structures, jumping off, and dive rolling. Compared to the quite grounded Gears of War multiplayer, it has a very different feel. But of course you can’t have such freedom without a few hiccups. Sometimes your character will jump up at a wall and hover in the air for a few seconds, waving his arms like he’s stopping himself from falling. Now when you add two players to the mix, and they both try to climb up the same wall at once, the same thing happens, except it’s a bit harder to remove two forever-falling guys, than just one. Hopefully this gets addressed before the full game ships.
So what else will you notice upon booting up a match? Well, firstly there’s the buddy system. If you are matchmaking, you get automatically assigned a buddy. Now you don’t have to watch his back or anything like that, but there are some cool little options available. If you die you can respawn on your buddy, providing they are not in combat. When you kill an enemy, sometimes a blue icon will appear where if both you and your buddy stand over the corpse, you can perform a high five, or fist bump for cash. Just to rub that kill in a little further. Occasionally treasure will pop up in treasure chests around the map, or after downing some enemies. You or your buddy can grab the treasure, which is used to unlock clothes and items for your character if you get the whole set, much like Mafia Wars type collections – if you ever got roped into that time sink.
As seen in the trailer, customisation is a much bigger part of this game. Although you wouldn’t know it from the Beta, only three types of heroes are currently available: a treasure hunter, Nathan Drake, and Victor Sullivan. And one pirate on the villain side too. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence to see three Nathan Drakes running about a single map – wearing different coloured shirts, mind you. You can change your clothing and create your own emblem, which is actually displayed inside the maps’ environment if you manage to make it to the top of the pack.
And of course no multiplayer shooter can be released these days without Call of Duty attachments and perks. It’s all there, even including customisable load-outs, but you can’t change these during matches. Everything has to be unlocked provided you are at the right level, and then bought using the cash earned from playing matches.
One nice touch I appreciated was the option to add in split-screen with a second controller, and your buddy can level up beside you on his or her own PSN account. And of course LAN play will also be a feature included in the full release, thanks to the recent PSN outage.
Power Plays are little segments that come into play during Deathmatch, giving the losing team a temporary advantage. This is usually achieved by showing the names of the players on the winning team, or marking a particular individual for slaughter.
However, simply shooting dudes in the face can get a bit boring after a while, which is why I really enjoyed the Team Objective mode. It was introduced only to be taken down at one point, but now it is back up again. As you find with most Betas things get switched off! Basically it’s a whole heap of objectives, but in one continuous play session. For the first few minutes you are in a King of the Hill zone, defending against the swarms of red players. For the next few, you are chasing down an enemy player with a precious golden statue. The Co-op Arena mode is pretty fun too, providing you can find a nice holdout somewhere safe from the waves of incoming enemies.
In the 1.03 update both Plunder and Co-op Hunter Arena were added to the mix. Plunder is a returning mode, where each team fights to bring the treasure back to their respective base. Co-op Hunter Arena replaced the Co-op Arena mode and pits you and a teammate against bots and two other players. Swapping sides part-way through you get to become the hunters -- this means you can side with the AI baddies. Throwing treasure in there as well, this mode can get a bit chaotic, but at the very least it shows Naughty Dog is trying to pull off something unique.
The Uncharted 3 Beta is a lot of fun, and if you managed to nab one of those free PlayStation Plus memberships you should go hop on right now before the week is up. The multiplayer is already shaping up to be a great extension to the Uncharted 3 campaign. In the end it is just another shooter with similar objectives, but in saying that, it is different enough to stand out from the crowd, and still deserves your attention.
Platform: PlayStation 3