Some games are just perfect fits for multiplayer: Call of Duty, Halo, Super Street Fighter, StarCraft, Super Smash Bros. and so on. But one game series that we never expected to join the multiplayer party was Uncharted.
OK, so that's a bit of an exaggeration. Of course Uncharted 2 was going to have a multiplayer mode (even though the first Uncharted didn't); every game these days is tacking on some sort of mode to make it playable with strangers and friends online. But the surprising thing about Uncharted 2's multiplayer is that it's actually good.
In fact, it's one of the best multiplayer experiences you'll have on the PS3. Multiplayer isn't just tacked-on to Uncharted 2; it's an extremely polished enhancement that legitimately adds dozens of hours of playability to an already exceptional piece of work. On top of the fact that the gameplay is near-perfect, the online experience is smooth as butter. In fact, I've easily sunk a good 40 plus hours into the online play in Uncharted 2, and I've never seen a single dropped frame. Not a one. I can't say that about any other game I've ever played online.
In an era of half-hearted, mediocre online experiences merely forced into games to give them "replayability," Uncharted 2 did something special. Naughty Dog ironed out all the kinks, even though they didn't have to. Uncharted 2's phenomenal single-player experience could have easily stood on its own without the whole online thing.
With Uncharted 3 due out this November, Naughty Dog knows a great multiplayer mode is expected this time. Even though they could easily get away with releasing a re-skinned version of Uncharted 2, they are tweaking things to make sure this is the superior multiplayer experience on the PS3.
Quite frankly, one thing the PS3 has been lacking is a multiplayer game that manages to provide the definitive gaming experience yet is also exclusive to the PS3. Sure, there's Killzone and Resistance and even SOCOM, but none of these games have the universality that, say, the Halo series has for the Xbox. For example, a friend may say to you, "Do you want to come over to play some Xbox?" If you accept this particular invitation, chances are you'll be playing Halo.
The PS3 needs its own Halo experience, and Naughty Dog is hoping to finally deliver that with Uncharted 3.
Naughty Dog knows better than anyone that making a "definitive experience" for a PlayStation console is incredibly difficult. After all, these are the guys who brought us Crash Bandicoot, originally hyped as PlayStation's mascot. But the whole mascot thing was never able to take, and there's one good reason for this: PlayStation has always had such an incredibly diverse lineup of games that no single game could ever completely define the system.
For example, if I ask someone what they thought was the definitive experience on the PSOne, there are several answers they might come up with. I know people who live and die by Final Fantasy VII. I also know people who will tell you Metal Gear Solid was the greatest game ever made. And for others, there are several other games that could just as easily define the PSOne, including Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 2, and Twisted Metal 2. The list just goes on and on. The only common thread running through the games mentioned above is that they were all great. Each of them brought a radically different formula, yet each did so in a way that worked.
PlayStation simply can't point to one game series to represent all the qualities that make its lineup great. There are games for youngsters, games for the shooter crowd, games for RPG enthusiasts, games for the fighting crowd, and even games for niche gamers. This is certainly true of all consoles, yet throughout the various PlayStation iterations, this has always been the truest of Sony. In fact, this is why they use the whole "It only does everything" line (besides the fact that they want to emphasize the PS3's Blu-ray capabilities, of course.)
Nintendo has always had Mario. Whenever you see the mustachioed plumber, you know you're in for an experience that is colorful, simple, and appropriate for all ages. Almost all of Nintendo's first-party titles share these qualities. Mario makes an appropriate mascot, since he is able to perfectly portray the sort of games that Nintendo releases.
As mentioned earlier, Xbox has a similar thing going for it. Halo, while not the only successful series on the console, represents everything that players come to expect from Xbox games. Halo is a competitive shooter, and the Xbox and Xbox 360 have always excelled at brining top-notch shooters. In fact, the three biggest selling franchises on the 360 are Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War. While all three have their own nuances that make them stand out from the others, all three are competitive shooters. The Xbox experience is defined by the shooter, making Halo, the king of Xbox shooters, the perfect title to define that experience.
PlayStation has never had that. It's not that it doesn't have any great games; it's that it has too many great games that are all so vastly different. This is why there could never be a PlayStation mascot.
My prediction: Naughty Dog is in a very interesting position right now. If the multiplayer experience in Uncharted 3 can indeed improve upon the flawless gameplay of Uncharted 2, this will be a game people notice. Naughty Dog might even try to convince us that Nathan Drake could be the unofficial PlayStation mascot.
However, PlayStation's game lineup has always been so diverse that finding any one game that can epitomize the PlayStation experience is simply impossible. Yes, I have faith that Uncharted 3 is going to be incredible. But it's just not going to encapsulate the PlayStation experience well enough to make Nathan Drake mascot-worthy.
CCC Editor/Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*