During the Sony Press Conference, a little birdy reminded me that as the clock ticked past midnight, the Uncharted 2 Multiplayer Beta codes should be available to download. Just as luck would have it, that little dicky bird was right. In a miraculous fashion, my Internet speed kicked into overdrive and downloaded the entire 1.3GB file in just over half an hour. I wasn’t expecting to play it until I woke up later that day, but with it installed, I thought I’d just give it a little dabble, just ten minutes or so. Once the decision to finally go to bed arrived, imagine my shock when it was two hours later.
To sum up, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves’ multiplayer is, based on the beta, incredibly fun. When I first heard the announcement of both a competitive mode and a cooperative I was sceptical. Having enjoyed the original so much, could Among Thieves provide a compelling, intense, action packed single player if Naughty Dog are working on multiplayer as well? The E3 demo put my mind to rest that the single player experience should be fantastic, so now I just needed to be convinced on both the competitive and cooperative experiences, with Deathmatch, Plunder (Capture the Flag) and three player co-op, the available options.
The beta is relatively straightforward. Click X a variety of times to progress through the menus, look at the controls before ignoring them and just rely on your intuition with testing them out in game. Whilst the multiplayer fails to bring anything overly inventive to the table, what it does, it does very well. Deathmatch is as expected; kill as many enemies as you can in the time limit available, or until one bloodthirsty player has reached the kill limit. Plunder, whilst essentially Capture the Flag, mixes things up slightly by making the treasure extremely heavy to carry. This means that you can’t just leg it back to your base with the treasure, let alone use any sort of heavy weaponry whilst partaking in the manual labour. It does help at bringing an element of teamwork and strategy to the mode, as you really need some cover whilst lugging this heavy booty back home.
A levelling system is present which unlocks ‘boosters’ as your experience increases, three player co-op is, well, co-op, with three players, and unlike Killzone 2, the cover system in Uncharted has migrated from single player to multi, and works exactly the same. The single button use for both dodging and sliding into cover leaves somewhat of a grey area though when trying to gain cover at a nearby wall, only to roll past it; let’s hope this is fixed before release.
Graphically though, the game is beautiful. Rich, lush environments make me feel at home in the Uncharted universe whilst providing incredible levels of details; if this is the quality of the beta, I can’t wait to play the final build. The weapons we got to use are somewhat boring and generic, sadly, except for one, the Gatling gun. I could look past the subdued effect of the rest of the weapons as they ‘fit’ into the Uncharted world, but a Gatling gun? Really? It seemed so out of place, and whilst taking a while to spin up and limiting your movement speed, they should just scrap it now and save the complaints.
The inclusion of a riot shield, which whilst limits you to the use of only a pistol, could provide some brilliant tactical uses. Co-op was equally impressive, and the inclusion of LittleBigPlanet style platforming sections that require multiple players, enemies attacking from a variety of angles and the sheer number of baddies, really requires teamwork – this is not a co-op mode where you can go off gun-ho on your own and expect to live to tell the tale. So, yes, overall the beta got me extremely excited about the full release and put my mind to rest at any qualms at the inclusion of multiplayer in the first place. Great stuff.