For those of you unfamiliar with Uncharted; the first installment Drake’s Fortune is a third person action adventure game and was released in 2007 to critical acclaim.It has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, establishing itself as a firm favorite amongst PS3 owners.
Players take control of the amazingly agile adventurer, Nathan Drake, who believes that he’s a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, as he sets out to seek the lost treasure of El Dorado, assisted by journalist Elena Fisher and old friend and fellow adventurer Victor Sullivan. Among Thieves is set two years after Drake’s Fortune and finds Drake in an adventure to find Marco Polo’s lost fleet and the Cintamani stone in the lost city of Shambhala.
Following a successful multiplayer public Beta earlier this year, which saw approximately 130,000 gamers, worldwide, take part – developers Naughty Dog have opened another multiplayer Beta that’s scheduled to run up until a few days prior to the game’s official release on October 16th. Being a huge fan of the first game, I was eager to get playing. My time playing it has been hampered, somewhat, due to problems with my PlayStation connecting to the network. I won’t dwell on that, though. After all, this is a preview of the multi-player aspect of Uncharted 2, not my connection woes.
A number of competitive match types are available; Death Match involves two teams of five (heroes with Drake, Sully etc and Villains) battling it out until one team reaches a set number of kills, which is usually 50. Elimination is similar to Death Match apart from your team has to completely wipe out the other team. First team to win three rounds wins the game. Chain Reaction is where each team has to capture flags in a certain order – one team captures flags 1-5 whilst the other captures 5-1. Plunder is essentially a capture the flag with competing teams looking to recover a treasure and returning it to a specific location without getting gunned down. To make things tricky, the player that’s carrying the treasure is slowed down significantly, so teamwork is key.
In addition to the competitive modes, there are two co-op modes to choose from, one of which involves you teaming up with up to two other players and playing through a scenario from the game. The one included in the demo takes part in the Nepal warzone and primarily involves a series of shootouts but has a couple of simple puzzles to solve. The other co-op mode available is Gold Rush, which is similar to Plunder apart from the three players will aim to retrieve a treasure against a number of opponents who become more skilled and better armed as you progress through the rounds.
There are 15 weapons in total, some of them will only be available in certain match types, ranging from 9mm pistols to the GGU-19 chain gun. A choice of 10 characters is available to start with (5 heroes and 5 villains) and more can be unlocked as you level up. In addition to character unlocks, you can also unlock a number of boosters that will enhance your abilities whilst playing.
When I first heard that a multiplayer mode would be added to Uncharted: Among Thieves, I was a little skeptical as to how this would work. Any feelings of scepticism diminished within minutes of my first death match. As I assumed the role of one of the villains, I explored The Plazamap until I was gunned down whilst scaling a lamppost. The level of interaction with your surroundings has improved significantly since the first game and if there’s one map that shows this off best, in the Beta, it’s The Plaza. The level is huge and has plenty of vantage points to be reached.
The maps are all enjoyable, but the one I was looking forward to the most – The Ice Caves – is my least favorite. The snow looks great, but this doesn’t play a huge part in the level, which is quite small in scale and doesn’t provide the amount of freedom afforded in the other levels. The Temple is similar in size to The Plaza but doesn’t offer the same amount of multi-level exploration, whereas The Village offers plenty of climbing opportunities for players, just on a much smaller scale map. It seems as though there’s a map to suit most tastes here; for those who like their battles fast and intense The Ice Caves and The Village are the ones to go for. If you like the action to take place in larger surroundings, The Plaza and The Temple are the ones to go for.
Those of you who are familiar with the Uncharted should have no difficulty with the control system, as it’s almost identical to the first game. For greater accuracy, aim with L1 and fire with R1. Alternatively, you can run and gun by pressing R1.
I’m a huge fan of melee attacks and sneaking behind opponents for stealth kills, so the square button gets a lot of use. Unfortunately, I tend to over rely on this on occasion and neglect to fire any shots, which leads to me acting as cannon fodder for the more proficient players. If you’ve never played Unchartedbefore, it shouldn’t take long at all for you to be fully comfortable with the control system, as it’s extremely user friendly.
The action itself plays out like the more intense shootouts from the first game. But your opponents have the tendency to be a little more erratic and they’re less prone to do that duck and shuffle thing your enemies in the first game did when you were aiming for a headshot. Oh, and I don’t recall the pirates in the first game ‘tea-bagging’ you when they killed you.
Having provided popular franchises for the PlayStation with Crash Bandicoot and PlayStation 2 with Jak And Daxter, developers Naughty Dog look set to provide the PlayStation 3 with a franchise that’s arguably the best on offer for the system. Drake’s latest outing will, apparently, make use of the full 25GB on the Blu-ray disc and contain around 90 minutes of cut-scenes. Improvements have been made to the excellent graphics seen in the first game, which to this day are still some of the best seen on the console. Granted, this is only the multi-player aspect of the game, but in all the time that I’ve spent playing it there has been no sign of any faults that occasionally popped up in the first game.
I’ve had access to the demo for a couple of weeks now, but it’s now available in the PSN store for all PSN users to download for free. It’s great fun and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time playing the demo and, connection permitting, I’ll get plenty more games in before the official release.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is released in the UK on 16th October. The demo is available now from the PSN store.