Friday, June 5, 2009

Uncharted 2 Multiplayer Beta Impressions

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was a great game that completely fell apart by the end. The supernatural twist made no sense whatsoever and turned the game into something nobody wanted it to be, and enemies in general could take so many bullets that I had to put it on easy difficulty before the logic center of my brain could explode. Say what you want about me playing on easy, but guys wearing t-shirts shouldn't be able to take five AK-47 rounds to the chest and keep coming like nothing happened.

So going into Uncharted 2's multiplayer beta, I was hoping that it wouldn't take an unreasonable amount of shots to take down other players. After playing the beta for the last two days, I feel like it still takes far too many bullets to kill other players. Guns just don't feel powerful, and when there's as much cover as there is in the two maps included in the beta, it's too easy for opponents to slip away after taking half a clip.

While the guns in the beta are standard fare for Uncharted, the grenade launcher is easily one of the most badass weapons to kill someone with in any multiplayer game, ever. Seeing it in action is absolutely terrifying. Grenades fire out in a spiral that leaves a smoke trail before ripping apart another player.

The levels in the beta feel pretty small and dense; they could definitely benefit from some breathing room. Their best design feature is their verticality, allowing players to scale to the second floor of some buildings. This part definitely makes the multiplayer feel like Uncharted; it's a lot of fun to climb and set up your own little spot on the map to take people down from. Hopefully this verticality is emphasized more in the final game as it's what kept the multiplayer interesting for me.

As this is a beta, there are still some technical issues being worked out. For instance, I was taking cover in the middle of a level, poking my head out to fire on some unsuspecting players when all of a sudden, from the bottom-left corner to the top-right, the lower half of the screen went completely black. It reverted to normal in a moment, but served as a definite reminder that I was playing a beta.

Luckily, that also means that the developers can iron out the other issues, like designing the levels a little better to prevent spawn camping. Three times I was killed immediately after spawning by a clever guy hiding behind cover with too many grenades. As well, hopefully there will be something along the lines of character customization, because while it's fun to play as Nathan and the rest, playing as a faceless bad guy is less interesting. It'd be nice to create my own avatar and see what other players make.

Overall, Uncharted 2's multiplayer beta shows promise (and it's absolutely gorgeous), but definitely has some significant issues to fix before it hits later this year if it wants to have any chance of competing for time against heavy hitters like Modern Warfare 2.

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