Hands on Impressions: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

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Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Also on: N/A (PlayStation 3 Exclusive)
Console Played on: PlayStation 3
Release Date: Friday October 16th 2009
Age Rating: BBFC 15

I fear I may run out of words to describe the Uncharted 2 MP Beta. Forgive me if that happens, but as vast as my vocabulary is (not very), no words seems quite fitting for the online world of Nathan Drake. They’re all an understatement.

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Here’s how it works. You enter the game and you’re greeted by an undistracting background of a statue in the jungle, with a clean menu giving you some options. Of course, if you’re in right of mind, you just head straight to ‘Multiplayer’. The time it takes it connect to the servers is enough to get yourself comfortable, before being greeted by a thank you letter from Naughty Dog. Sweet.

From there, you’ve got your game modes. The first is Deathmatch. Simple fun for 10 people split into two teams, and playable across all maps; The Village, The Temple, Ice Caves, and The Plaza. You all vote for your favorite, including ‘special’ maps with only RPGs, say, and after a quick load, you’re in to the game.

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Oh my god. The game. It’s stunning. Beautiful. Superb. Divine. Angelic, charming, radiant, magnificent and ravishing. Basically, it’s Megan Fox hot [or Elisha Cuthbert Girl Next Door/24 Season 1 hot – Ed]. From the wealth of textures, all perfectly crafted, to the smooth, slick animations of all 10 players. You’d be hard pressed to find any game that’s as immersing as Uncharted 2, with players getting wet in puddles, scrambling up walls, and cracking each other’s necks.

And you haven’t even got into combat yet. When you do, it’s thrilling. If you were lucky enough to enter the previous beta, you’ll remember that the primary bane was the uncontrollable guns. Well, Naughty Dog have had time to tweak all that, and tweaked they have. The recoil is less, but it still takes skill to keep the AK-47 down. If you’re pushed into a corner, you can fight your way out with the simple tapping of square, or just hold R1 to fire from the hip.

There aren’t too many weapons; you’ve got your standard AK, the scoped burst of the FAL, the epic domination of the M4, and some other goodies like the minigun, sniper, rocket launcher and ‘Pistole’; a pistol that shoots like a shotgun. It’s all perfectly balanced; a skilled player can used the AK to take down men in the open, and the FAL can grab headshots at a distance, but the more powerful guns suffer from short ammo supply or slow movement. You’ll never feel like the game oppresses you by rewarding the best players, or those who found the big gun quickly, and when you die, it’s usually because you didn’t check your corners.

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And checking your corners if important when you’re in Uncharted 2. The cover system is one of the best we’ve ever seen: no frills – just tap circle and you’ll lock on to any straight edge, poking out when aiming. It’s easy for an enemy to come up behind you and snap your neck, you so need to be aware at all times. There’s little to enforce teamwork, other than the fact you’ll probably live longer, but the maps are small enough to keep a friend near you when you need them.

One thing that will divide people though is the grenade. You start with one, and can pick up a total of three from around the map; throwing them is as easy as holing a button to place the trajectory, or aiming somewhere and hitting ‘throw’. They’re easy enough to use, and surprisingly deadly. Sometime you’re happily hiding behind a brick wall when a wildly chucked grenade lands by your feet, and you’ve got to respawn. It’s not usually a problem, and certainly doesn’t unbalance the game, but when you’re on the unlucky end of a random ‘nade spam a few times in a row, you’ll need to calm yourself down.

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That’s just Deathmatch. There’s Elimination, where you’ve only got one life and you compete to see which team survives. There are the two objective modes; Capture the idol sees both teams fighting to pick up a golden statue and carry it back to their base, while Capture the Flag has you… capturing flags, but only in a set order.

There are also the two co-op modes, where you can play through a segment of the story as Drake, Chloe and Sully, or choose another three friends and survive as long as you can in the arena. Each are as much fun as the next, and if you’re bored of randomly capping whiny kids, it’s brilliant to get together and take on the co-op.

The only problem is you seem to get more points from Deathmatch than the others. These points are used to buy upgrades, like better aiming or explosions not knocking you over, and if you’re desperate for that extra perk, you might find yourself sitting though yet another a Deathmatch just to get the points, rather than having fun with the gang in Nepal.

Still, it’s a tiny scratch on a gleaming, polished monster truck.

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Overall: If you haven’t got the beta from the store yet, something is wrong with you. You won’t play anything else for a matter or days, or even weeks, it’s that good. Then again, you need to know what single player is like. Hence why you’ll be back before release next week for our full review of it. For now, October 16th can’t come soon enough.

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