I’ll be honest. I love Nathan Drake. I know that in this day and age of “open” sexuality, it’s still odd for a man to say he loves another man, especially if that other man happens to be a fictional video game character. However, I love Nathan Drake. I played through the first Uncharted in a few days. I’m not saying I took my time. I’m saying I got my first platinum trophy in a few days, and I loved every minute of it. Well, I did yell at the television a few (dozen) times, but in the end, it was possibly one of the most satisfying game experiences I’ve had since defeating Ruby and Emerald Weapons in Final Fantasy 7. It was satisfying in more than just a gratification of platinum though. I didn’t have to slog through hours of farming exp with the right leveling gear to do it. It was just enjoyable. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was just as enjoyable as Uncharted, with the same unparalleled graphics and storyline, but it is important to mention the introduction of multiplayer.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception looks to be another breathtaking game. One of the most exhilarating aspect of Uncharted is the dizzying heights, and as someone who feels dizzy on the third floor of an apartment complex, I can tell you, I loved being able to rock climb the sheer face of an old Spanish fort from the safety of my living room. I also liked hanging on for dear life while clinging with my fingernails to a train destined to lie at the bottom of some very high cliffs. Drake’s Deception will have similar vistas, but it’s the multiplayer that I’m interested in reviewing now. When first introduced in Uncharted 2, the multiplayer aspect was a poorly-implemented system of “run around, shoot some bullets into the air and hope your Internet connection is fast enough to register the kill first”. I still enjoyed it, but the leveling up was long and drawn out, the ranked system didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it, and you could choose your character, but not customize him or her (or it, if you know what I mean). That’s where Uncharted 3 is beginning to shine. You can choose what hat/sunglasses/Hawaiian shirt combo looks best on your good friend Sully, and then whip out your customized M9 and waste some noobz while knowing you look like a fashionable gentleman. I also liked the cursing allowed to some of your actions. If you happen to throw a grenade against a wall and it lands at your feet, your character yells, “Shit!” just like YOU just yelled (though I’ve heard the f-word a time or two as well…in both settings). You also get to design your own emblem, which will be displayed around the map if you are the number one score in the game. I designed a sideways hand with a ring around it to indicate a slap, but I’m not good enough to have spotted my emblem during gameplay…yet.
There are no one-shot kills unless you manage to pick up a power weapon, which is a little discouraging. If I take my sniper rifle and put a bullet center mass, that guy is going down, but in Uncharted 3, I have to hopefully pump another round into him before he gets to cover. As an aside…make sure to use your cover!! I think one of the best ‘fights’ I had with someone was when the two of us were far from our teams and utilizing the cover to its fullest advantage. He jumped above me, so I swung out on a ledge, jumped down, fired some rounds, threw myself behind a box all while he was chasing me down. We ended up back to back against the same box, so I threw myself over the top while he rolled away to the side. We both came up shooting again, but I rushed in and smashed him with my gun. For once, the melee actually worked. When I say that, it appears to have some problems. If I melee someone, he or she just turns around and melees me back, so I smack him or her again for the kill, but for some reason, they get one last melee as well. I can’t tell you how many “Retaliation” medals I got simply for the lag melee kills. I’m talking dozens of these things, which affects my play ability when I’m kicking some ass and taking some names. However, if you think this is different than Uncharted 2’s similar “feature”, you’re dead wrong…it’s just one of those things I had hoped they were going to fix.
At least they gave the sniper rifles a scope this time. In the entirety of the Uncharted series, your sniper rifle has a tiny circle for its “trajectory”. You put someone’s head in that circle and squeeze off a round…they’re dead. In Uncharted 3, you now have what appears to be a fisheye scope that zooms in with crosshairs. I like the graphic change, but the usefulness has decreased with this new style. The scope jumps around a lot! One of the first week ‘best performances’ was a guy who whips out his sniper rifle and blasts three (or was it four) enemies in about a second. Bang, bang, bang, everybody’s dead, Dave. Now, to do that from a moving vehicle shooting at another moving vehicle while the enemies are ducking behind cover is truly a feat to be revered. I know my skill doesn’t extend that far, but for the average player, I think the new scope system might be a hindrance.
They also added a new feature of ‘treasure hunting’. Every time you kill another player, there is a small chance they will drop a treasure. You can collect groups of these treasures to unlock rare clothes and accessories for your character. Be warned! Running out of cover to collect a treasure is an easy way to get killed. Make sure you are completely safe before picking up your newfound glory. A second new feature is the ‘buddy’ group. Before a match begins, you may be randomly assigned a buddy. If the two of you are firing on the same enemy and manage to kill him, you can perform a group celebration. It may be a fist bump or high five to share in the defeat of an enemy. Be warned! Just as running out to collect treasure can be fatal, running out to perform a high five with your buddy can be just as detrimental. I can’t tell you how many times the buddy system was active, and the first thing my buddy or I did was run out to celebrate…just to get gunned down. Having mentioned it, you can also taunt the enemy, which has a new flavor of customization to it. You can choose whether your taunt is a ‘point and laugh’ or ‘kiss’ representation of your feelings for deafeating an enemy. If you can manage to level up your taunting abilities, your rewards are greater.
Overall, the gameplay hasn’t changed since Uncharted 2’s foray into multiplayer. The “shopping” has changed, as the levels to unlock new weapons and attachments are fairly steep. In the first week, I think I made it to level 10, whereas I had reached level 10 in one day on Uncharted 2. My second complaint has to do with the odd height characteristics. If Nathan Drake can jump two feet in the air and his reach is eight feet, he can theoretically jump up and reach the top of a ten foot wall. However, for some reason, he can’t seem to jump over a two-and-a-half foot barrier. He just keeps running up and putting one foot up while falling backwards. Since Drake is the basis for the physics, ALL characters have a ten foot reach and the same propensity for getting stuck on heights between two and three feet. The biggest example of this is on the Chateau level as soon as the “Villains” spawn, you can run forward and try to climb the stairs…but if you manage to get right in the middle, there’s a two-and-a-half foot wall. To the right is a little planter that requires you to jump, and to the left is some wall-climbing handholds, but hit that middle and you’re stuck.
In conclusion, the new multiplayer beta shows a ton of replayability and customization for your characters. The gameplay mechanics haven’t changed much, but you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. Unless you wanted to fix the stupid melee thing…that might be worthwhile.