Okay it’s confession time… Those of you who know me will not find this to be any great revelation but those of you that don’t may want to sit down before reading on…
Ready? The PS3 is not my preferred console. However, I will say that the Uncharted series is the reason I own one.
I remember the first time I saw footage of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. As a fan of the Tomb Raider series I knew that this was a game that I would enjoy. It combines elements of games that I love: platforming, action and puzzles. The Uncharted games do lean more towards the action side of things, using the puzzles to slow the pace from time to time, but it’s still a series I thoroughly enjoy, although I do hope to see more puzzle elements in Uncharted 3.
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are still to this day the only games on the PS3 that I have seen through to completion. There are just so many things that I love about these games, the stories in each game were captivating, especially so in Uncharted 2. The gameplay is fluid and tight, the music sets the tone perfectly with simple stunning visuals complimenting the whole experience. All in all a brilliant package.
Right I think that’s a sufficient amount of gushing, it’s time to delve into the Uncharted 3 Beta.
First things first; that music… simply wow. When I first loaded the game up I was hit by the Uncharted theme and I knew it was time to go plundering once again. Even though I was only able to access the multiplayer tab on the first screen I really hope Naughty Dog doesn’t change it for the game’s full release. In an age where accessibility is key, three tabs appear before you; Campaign, Multiplayer and Co-op. Nice and simple. It’s annoying when so many games manage to make this simple selection process so convoluted - I’m looking at you Fear 3!
Into the multiplayer suite I go and I’m presented with six different game modes to choose from, some returning from Uncharted 2, some noticeably absent.
The list is as follows:
Team Deathmatch: This is exactly what it says on the tin, five on five deathmatch - first to reach the target score is the winner. I found this mode to be a great place to start as I wasn’t out there on my own which gave me the chance to get back up to speed with the controls. I hope there will be the option to set the target score, though, as on some maps 60 was far too high and the match went on far too long as a result.
Plunder: Still very much a capture the flag affair. Both teams try to capture an idol that’s at the centre of the map and return it to their base. The carrier of the idol is slowed down significantly and this forces the rest of the team to play defence to protect the vulnerable carrier. I found this mode to be a nice spin on the traditional capture the flag concept. Actually getting plesantly frantic at times, trying at all costs to stop the opposing team from reaching their base with the idol to then realise that we had to carry the damn thing twice as far to get it back to our base!
Team Objective: This is a contested best out of five objective based mode where both teams race to finish specific objectives before the other team. It’s an interesting mode where communication with your squad is key. To be honest this was my least favourite of the modes. Maybe it’s because I kept being matched up with a team of lone wolves who were more concerned about their kill/death ratio than working together to complete the objectives. I recommend playing this mode with friends when the game is released.
Three Team Deathmatch: This is essentially a wingman mode pitting three teams of two against each other. Personally I hope they raise this to four teams of two. I can understand why they haven’t chosen to go for five teams though, as spawns would be far too close together and it would just turn into a cluster…booboo.
Free for All: This mode is where all the lone wolves from team objective should have been playing. No teams or objectives to worry about here, just you against everybody else. Plain, simple, fun.
Hardcore: Reading the description to this mode made me question what was going on in some of the other modes, “No boosters, no medal kickbacks, no mods. Just your skill and more health”. I had no idea I had access to such things in the other modes. Saying that though I did very much enjoy this raw experience and actually managed to do quite well at it. It is very similar to the free for all mode.
Okay let’s get into what I didn’t like about this game so we can leave on a high with the good stuff. The game seems to pay no attention to what level you are when matching you up with other players. The first lobby I jumped into as a lowly level one matched me up with eight other players who were well into their 30’s and the other guy was at 17. This is not a sight that newcomers want to see. If you want to attract new players to your game, do n0t mix them up with players that have been playing this game to death. It’s intimidating. There I found myself thinking “hmmm now how do I use cover again? Oh, doesn’t matter. I’ve lost my head”. I hope there are plans for better matchmaking in the full release and that this was just a way to get people into matches quicker during the Beta.
My other gripe with this game is the power of the melee attack when you get up close to people. Now I have absolutely no problem with being sneaked up on from behind and having my neck snapped, fair play to the guy who did it, I should have been paying more attention. It’s the elbow I don’t like, made me feel like was playing Gears of War 2 again! But this isn’t elbow followed by shotgun, it’s just elbow, elbow, elbow, dead! There was nothing I could do about it, the game says “evade to avoid”; trouble with that is there is no way to avoid the melee effectively as they punch you multiple times whilst you’re rolling. Hopefully this will also get tweaked for the full release.
Right, onto what I like. Quite simply everything else! I love the visuals in this game. If this isn’t representative of the full build then I can’t wait to see it in its full glory. If it is then I’m still happy; great job. The matches ran smoothly with no noticeable latency. I love the map design as well, as it makes me feel like I’m playing the love child of Gears of War and Assassin’s Creed, with the running, shooting and cover of Gears of War and the architectural design and clambering platforming of Assassin’s Creed. In conclusion, I really enjoyed this multiplayer offering and I think you will too, great work Naughty Dog.