Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nathan Drake gets competitive... The Uncharted 2 MP Beta Hands-On Preview

So I have been playing the Uncharted 2 multiplayer "closed" beta ever since its release two weeks ago during E3 week. There have been lots of ways of people getting in this beta, whether by a Qore subscription, buying inFAMOUS, or by giveaways by various people. At least more and more people are getting in to try this out because this will be a big game for Sony and Naughty Dog as it comes out on the fall. The beta lasts I think till the end of this month as it consists of both co-op and competitive multiplayer with three maps (one for co-op and two for competitive). After playing it for a while and dealing with the patch, it is safe to say that Uncharted 2's multiplayer does not feel as tacked on as many people have feared since its announcement and it is actually fun if you love third-person competitive shooters.

The co-op mode only has one map in this beta which is an urban background that has shown already. Three players are required to play an online co-op game playing as Nathan, the new female introduced in this game Chloe, and Sully. Basically, you are going through sections of the main game with two more teammates as it is kill room after kill room with some sections requiring teamwork to proceed on. The computer A.I. will give you a fight, which is nice as making the wrong move such as going into open territory getting blasted by enemy fire would likely lead to death. At least there's a simple revive mechanic if your teammates are down for the count, but it is for a limited time like Gears of War. There's also a multiplier in which your score gets increased by killing enemies at a consistent rate and getting various awards. The co-op session does end with a tease of a "to be continued" type of deal as you receive your points towards your level.

The competitive multiplayer is the main attraction of this beta as it consists of two modes, team deathmatch and Plunder, a variation of Capture of Flag. Both modes are pretty self-explanatory and stuff you seen before, but with Uncharted's style of combat, it is surprisingly good with great maps (The Plaza and Village are the only ones playable) that are large enough to fit ten players. There is also light customization in which you choose the character you play as for either the hero or villain team and boosters, which are COD4-like perk abilities to raise ammo or hold a bigger clip for example. When the beta started, games were only up to 25 kills or three captures in Plunder, but recently the number to win was considered in both modes which allows for longer games like 50 kills and five captures. If you played a cover-based shooter like Gears of War or Army of Two, Uncharted 2 is no different at its core, but with its acrobatic controls and diverse settings to fight in, it does enough to separate itself from the rest of the pack. The shooting feels fine with all the weapons available like my personal favorite, the FAL Rifle, a burst rifle with a scope that reminds of Halo's Battle Rifle, the M79 grenade launcher, a portable minigun, shotguns, and other standard weapons you expect in a multiplayer shooter. Like the co-op, the ranking system consists of players getting kills and racking up the various awards like melee killing someone, getting a kill from the grave, and more.

Since Uncharted 2 was considered as the best game of E3 at many game sites, it is because of its amazing graphics and sound, which shows in this multiplayer beta. Even with playing the various maps, it still feels one of the best or perhaps the best looking PS3 game out. The characters look very detailed and alive with their acting and the backgrounds flat out look stunning. Of course, it is still a beta as there were some technical issues such as players getting stuck in various parts of the maps and levels getting reset, but it seems to be fixed by the recent patch that came out the other day. The sound department is no slouch either continuing with the epic theatrical soundtrack and loud sound effects from the weapons to the explosions to a point it feels like a high budget summer blockbuster.

The Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta has been an enjoyable experience despite my rank getting reset twice, which is okay since it is easy to rank up by racing up kills and awards. All the fears of it being just another mode in the already epic single player game are washed away as it is pretty fun. This is pretty good especially for Sony and Naughty Dog since Uncharted 2 is the PS3's biggest exclusive for the holiday season and it needs to deliver on being an amazing game. Even though I still look forward to the single player campaign more because of the storyline revolving around Nathan Drake's adventures, the multiplayer is pretty solid and will likely give the game the replayable legs that the first game needed. Plus, it is still the best looking game to come out for the PS3 this year, so if you're looking to get one game on PS3 this fall, count on Uncharted 2 to deliver and live up to the hype.

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