|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Naughty Dog||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-10||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
June 12, 2009 - The first Uncharted was an excellent single-player experience that really showcased what the PS3 was capable of. At the time when it was released, the PS3 was hurting for good software, especially exclusives, and Naughty Dog really hit a home run with its new IP in terms of its presentation and gameplay. Due to this, Uncharted quickly became one of the most popular and best-selling PS3 games which, thankfully, has resulted in a sequel slated for a release later this year.
While the first Uncharted focused entirely on the solitary exploits of Nathan Drake, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves will be coming with a host of multiplayer options right out of the box.
However, the addition of multiplayer components to a typically single-player series can sometimes be a cause for concern. There is often the fear that these modes will feel tacked on, that the gameplay you enjoy in single-player won't translate well into a multiplayer experience, or perhaps worst of all, if you do wind up liking it, that it will be difficult finding matches to play in. Thanks to the recent chance to play a plethora of rounds in the Uncharted 2 multiplayer closed beta, these fears have certainly been put to rest for me.
Although this closed beta doesn't include all of the features and modes that we'll see in the finished game, it gives a good taste of what to expect. As far as the competitive side of the beta goes, players are given the option to play in either team deathmatch or plunder matches on one of two maps. One map is named The Village and it consists of plenty of buildings to hide in and travel through, perches great for sniping, and a ton of barricade walls to quickly duck behind to regain life or gain a tactical advantage. In contrast, The Plaza is more open with a large raised area at its center, has some barricade-littered corridors, and is much darker than the sun-drenched Village. Both maps felt very good while playing and provided a sense of verticality and exploration that isn't often present in multiplayer offerings, since you can pretty much find a way to climb onto and up just about everything.
Team deathmatch is a fairly standard mode, which pits a team of five heroes against a team of five villains in a race to score fifty kills first. The cover mechanic found in the original game works really well here, as you'll be able to hide behind objects and walls and either peak out for a few accurate shots or blind fire in order to stay more concealed. The ability to sneak around the environment while playing also creates some interesting situations, since, if you manage to get behind an unaware foe, a single tap of the melee button will grant you a quick and spectacular one hit stealth kill.
The plunder mode, as you may expect, is basically Uncharted 2's version of capture the flag. The biggest twist here is that the flag isn't just a light and easy to carry object but is instead a hulking box of treasure that must be lugged back to your hideout in order to score. Because of its weighty nature, players are also only able to wield their pistols while in possession of the treasure chest. Actually getting this box to your scoring destination definitely requires a total team effort, since you are so limited while carrying it. But, the process does go a bit easier if you hold down the L2 button and toss the chest towards your goal instead of just carrying it.
During these modes, players will earn money for various things such as scoring kills and capturing treasure that will increase their level. While I'm not entirely sure how your level will affect gameplay in the final version of the game, one could speculate that it will likely help with matchmaking and perhaps grant different boosters for the player to use. In this beta there are two slots available for adding boosters to your character, which can grant a variety of improvements to different skills; think perks from COD 4. Some of the highlights here were more precise aiming with the pistol or rifles, improved accuracy while blind firing, the ability to carry more bullets, and having more bullets in each clip, which allows for lengthier firefights between reloads. These boosters were definitely interesting and useful, and I'm sure there will be a ton more that can be unlocked/purchased in the finished version of the game.
Rounding out the multiplayer beta was a cooperative mode that allowed up to three players to team up as Nathan, Chloe, and Sully. Rather than retreading the single-player experience with friends in tow, the co-op mode instead focuses on completing a series of objectives in order to make your way to some treasure. The only playable scenario in the beta was the Nepal Warzone, which is broken into several stages of killing waves of increasingly more difficult foes, with better weaponry becoming available as you progress as well. Each segment has you clearing out a horde of foes and then completing an objective such as hoisting a cabinet to climb to the next area or using an RPG to blast through a wall to continue on with your quest.
Teammates will frequently get downed by your enemies, with a depleting meter appearing above their heads, which will require you to find them and hold the triangle button until they are fully revived. If you fail to save a downed teammate before their meter runs dry, they will have to wait roughly twenty to thirty seconds in order to respawn. Worse yet, if everyone happens to die, your whole team will need to restart from your last checkpoint. You'll be given a few chances to restart from your last checkpoint, but if you continue to fail, you'll find yourself starting the whole scenario over from scratch. While this mode can be challenging at times, it definitely seems like it will be a fun addition to the single-player and competitive online experiences.
Although I was initially skeptical of the multiplayer component of Uncharted 2, I have to say this beta certainly changed my opinion. The experience was every bit as enjoyable as most of the shooters I've played online, and the mix of shooting, cover, climbing, and exploration felt very natural. We'll have to wait to see how the rest of the online package fairs once the game is finally released, such as the ability to record and share entire online matches, which wasn't available in the beta. But, what is already here has certainly left me with a positive first impression.
CCC Staff Contributor