This was familiar turf for players of the recent multiplayer beta, with some local matches over a LAN connection bringing Manchester PlayStation Access attendees together before encouraging them to pull each other off ledges.
Uncharted 2 surprised everyone by making a fine first effort with the multiplayer and U3 looks set to surpass it easily with its dosage of cinematic sequences and power plays where a team is given a temporary stat boost. Today we played around on a few maps new maps with team deathmatches being the game of choice. One map was set in a desert village, similar to that seen in the recent single-player footage. There were lots of close alleys with corners and walls to hide behind, making for a fast-paced match where itchy trigger fingers and sharp melee skills proved most lethal. The climbing was brilliant here too as it can be used to perform grab kills to pull opponents over a ledge. It’s uber-slick and will probably cost us many lives in the pursuit of enjoyment over a decent kill/death ratio, as it does leave you vulnerable to being swatting off the wall in a hail of gunfire.
The other map was on top of several close high-rise buildings, some still under construction, others seemingly smashed by artillery fire. This is where I started to note a real concern, the inconsistent jumping areas. I lost count of the amount of accidental deaths resulting from failing to grab onto a ledge on the other side of a blatantly reachable jump. You could do the same jump, in exactly the same way, five times and fail three times, almost as if you were hitting a glass wall. When the other option is to run around to the bridge instead of jumping, which can take much longer, it really started to get annoying.
Uncharted’s assault rifles have always had quite a kick to them, but they now seem to rattle around with a ludicrous amount of crosshair movement, making middle to long range kills a nightmare. I’d imagine adaptable perks and weapon unlocks will go towards countering this, but it could be hard work progressing until they’re unlocked.
It’s a good thing the melee attacks are more reliable then, and infinitely more satisfying. Stealth takedowns from behind only require one attack for a brutal neck snap, but going toe-to-toe requires two solid smacks to take out healthy opponents. Whoever gets the first one in will then be open to a retaliation shot, but they’ll be able to finish their opponent off with the next shot. It could be improved if a bit more input could be added from the player, such as a brief counter prompt to make it less mechanical.
Combining the weapons, perks, power plays, climbing and melee attacks the Uncharted 3 multiplayer is carving out a nice little niche for itself. No other game manages to blend platforming, climbing and shooting to such effect. Hell, is anyone else even trying? As long as the random falling deaths can be fixed, Naughty Dog should have some busy servers on their hands. Obviously, the single-player game is what we’re really looking forward to, but it’s good to see an effort being made to improve the multiplayer side of things as well.
Uncharted 3 is released November 2nd exclusively on the PS3.