Hands-on: Uncharted 2 Beta
Many people were surprised when Naughty Dog unveiled Uncharted 2’s all new multiplayer component, and frankly, I was one of them. The first Uncharted was a story driven action game that had a fair amount of replayability, and didn’t necessarily feel in need of a multiplayer component. It’s no secret that Uncharted 2 doesn’t either, but they’ve added one anyway. Whether or not you think it’s a good idea, I’m here to tell you why it rocks.
The Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Beta kicked off during E3 and has been running strong ever since. Just like another major PlayStation 3 shooter, Resistance, Uncharted’s multiplayer comes in both competitive and cooperative flavors. Competitive allows up to 10 players to duke it out in teams of 5 across the 2 maps featured in the Beta, the Village and the Plaza. Cooperative, on the other hand, has a cap of 3 players and only the 1 level, which is a heavily modified version of the Village.
In cooperative, the 3 players assume the roles of Nathan, Sully and Chloe. As the group travels from area to area they’ll be engaged by waves of mercenaries, and occasionally the heavily armored mini-boss. What makes these fire fights a bit more interesting than your run of the mill Uncharted shootout is that enemies will really come at you from all directions. You’ll constantly need to keep an eye on a number of entrances to the current battle zone and cover your comrades’ backs. As the mercenaries begin to spawn from different locations your team will have to adjust accordingly by finding new cover and protecting one another as you shift positions.
Now we all know that Uncharted isn’t just about shooting and the co-op is fleshed out with a sprinkling of puzzles along with a touch of platforming to mix things up. On a few different occasions – once an area has been cleared of enemy mercenaries – an icon appears to signal that multiple players are needed to accomplish a certain task, which in the Beta can consist of hoisting someone onto a phone pole or shimmying a bookshelf into position as a makeshift ladder. Although the completion of these moments is necessary to progress through the mission, they also serve as minor breathers in between the many gunfights. Additionally, in some areas there will be opportunities to do a bit of climbing and jumping to find the best tactical position, allowing you to take aim and relay enemy positions to your ground-based teammates.
On the other side of the Beta you have the competitive mode, which has both Plunder and Team Deathmatch game types. Team Deathmatch is exactly what you imagine it’s like and Plunder is Uncharted 2’s inevitable Capture the Flag variant. While both are quite fun, Plunder seems to really stand out and benefit from the compact stages and smaller teams. Instead of each team having a flag or object to capture and return to the base, there is a solitary, bulky bit of treasure to be lugged to safety. While in possession of the treasure you aren’t able to move at full speed or use your primary weapon. You can fire your sidearm, but even then you aren’t able to use the more precise aiming mode. What you can do however is throw the treasure, in much the same manner as you might toss a grenade. This simple mechanic creates some great opportunities for team strategy involving line tossing back to the base, or even throwing the treasure onto a roof before being blown away so enemies have a bit more trouble making off with it.
Beyond the actual multiplayer modes, Naughty Dog has provided a built-in party system similar to Resistance 2’s and the now standard level up system popularized by Call of Duty 4. You’ll also be able to pick your character from a number of different skins, as well as apply boosters that enhance various attributes. These range from better accuracy with certain weapon types to larger clips for all firearms among several other effects.
Although the Beta is only a small taste of Uncharted 2 multiplayer, it shows great promise for the final product. As long as the rest of the competitive maps are as well designed as those on display and the co-op gets a bit more puzzle variety, Uncharted 2 should be one of the standout multiplayer games of this Fall. While it’s unlikely to evolve into a breakout craze à la Call of Duty, it offers something a bit different and should certainly be on your multiplayer radar along with Modern Warfare 2 and M.A.G.