Drenched in quality: Made2Game's first hour with the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta
- Naughty Dog
- Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Just how much fun can you have in one hour? Well if you’re playing the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta – this much (holds arms three feet apart). For a game that’s still some five-months away from release, Uncharted 3 looks and feels super polished, with visuals already matching those of Uncharted 2, crisp, responsive controls and a bucketful of playable modes all drenched in Naughty Dog quality.
Right off the bat you’ve got free-for-all, team deathmatch, 3-way deathmatch, hardcore and co-op survival modes, although in our first 60-minutes with the game we stuck with team-deathmatch only. We’ll have a full-on impressions piece for you after the beta closes, but for now here’s what we got up to this morning.
We’re on the heroes team to start out with – a short introductory cut-scene shows three Nathan Drakes clambering to the start point, AKs at the ready. We’re playing in and around the Chateau (the one from the first gameplay reveal), a crumbling mass of burnt timbers, blackened brickwork and overgrown garden statues. There’s plenty of opportunity for you to monkey up walls and hunker down behind cover as you try and get the drop on your foes.
The first thing that draws our attention is a shielded machine-gun turret, so we make a beeline for it while our two mates scamper off into the twisty maze of rock and wood. Because we’re impatient berks, we let rip with the machine gun, chugging out lead at nothing in particular, just to get a feel for the beast. We’ve given away our position though, and some sneaky bugger from the other team tip-toes up behind us and breaks our neck with a sickening criiick! A few headset swears follow. Sorry team.
It’s now we experience the buddy system at work for the first time though. When you respawn, you’re given the option to pop back into existence right next to a random team-member you’ve been paired with – indicated with a heart icon over their head. Aw. It’s a nice touch, encouraging team play and a manly sense of ‘I’ve-got-your-back’ camaraderie.We re-enter the fray right next to our mate, and spend the rest of the match scrabbling along after his shadow (he’s level 9 already, so must know what he’s doing).
This new tactic works beautifully - we weave through the chateau, backs to the wall, alternately popping out from behind cover whenever we encounter sharp resistance. We still die lots (naturally) but having a mate there for you whenever you respawn makes us feel warm and tingly inside. At one point our chum is being battered by one of those nasty turrets. As he cowers behind a heap of rubble providing the occasional burst of blind fire for distraction, we mosey on up behind the aggressor and put our boot up his jacksie, crunching him into the turret, earning us a satisfying one-hit melee kill and the ‘Snap!’ medal. We like.
Turning the tables
Our team is winning pretty comfortably at this point, but just as we start getting cocky in come the ‘Power Plays.’ Designed to give a slight edge to whoever’s trailing, these in-game scenarios last around two-minutes and are just a little bit brilliant. The first one is ‘marked man,’ whereby one member of our team gets lit up like a Christmas tree on the other team’s HUD. The entire dynamic of the game changes instantly, as we all scurry back to create a defensive perimeter around the broken tower in the centre of the map.
Our opponents have got precisely two minutes to bump off their target, and by heck do they give it a good go. Rousing music kicks in, sharpening the sudden cinematic sting as we’re assaulted from all three sides. Grenades plop into our hidey-hole, flushing us from cover and exposing us to the machine-gun turret on the adjacent outcrop. We’re getting pelted by a torrential storm of bullets, but respond with the M60-Hammer (the handy grenade launcher returning from Uncharted 2), pinging out accurate balls of destruction that send our attackers spinning back behind cover. One minute left.
A jammy beggar manages to slip unnoticed around the bottom of the tower, and haul himself up the side, scoring himself a couple of melee kills in the process (sadly we were one of them. At least we’re honest, right?). His brave kamikaze act is finished when our marked man himself clocks him in the chin with a meaty punch. Time runs out. Whoops of delight sound across the PS3 airwaves.
We’re straight back into the team-deathmatch action, and are still in the lead – but what a brilliant way to shake up the match those power plays are. Not only do they balance out the battle, they give everyone a new focus outside of the usual running, gunning, dying, spawning, tea-bagging cycle that usually plagues team deathmatch modes. Other power plays we experience are when everyone on our team appears on the enemies’ HUD, and also a two-minute period where the enemy gets double-damage. A great perk if you’re being given a hiding, and on the flips-side, something to keep you on your toes if you find yourself nonchalantly carving through a sea of noobs.
Up in the air
Moving on to the next map now, and… holy hell! A multiplayer match set in a jeep chase? And the jeeps are chasing an aeroplane down a runway? Yes, welcome to Uncharted 3. One team (us in this instance) is placed in the back of the plane while the other is scattered across a group of trucks – all pelting down a runway. Like that stupidly awesome bit in Uncharted 2, you can leap from truck to truck, dangle of the sides and pop your head up to shoot folks. Only this time you can jump into a plane, and chuck people out of it to a skiddy runway death. It’s insane, chaotic, and belting good fun.
We decide against just defending though – we fancy a piece of the action, and so leap out the back of the plane onto the pursuing trucks, ducking, shooting and clinging on for dear life. The fact you’re up against other humans in what is essentially an balls-to-the-wall single player set piece is remarkable, and it ups the ante ten-fold. People are sneaky, you see. Some of the trucks hurtle up the sides of the plane, allowing you to hop into the emergency exits and get the drop on the folks inside. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
After a couple of minutes of duking it out at god-knows-how-many miles per hour, the plane arcs into the air and the battle spills into a freight yard, full of crates, rusty towers and criss-crossing walkways. Again there’s plenty of opportunity clambering up high, and it all feels brilliantly open and rammed with tactical posibilites. We find melee works best in this map – most encounters are up close and we score a few uber-satisfying kills by kicking people in the chops or sliding under them and planting a foot in their no-no areas.
As always, the hand-to-hand combat feels fluid and organic, smoothly woven into the animation much like the leaps and rolls. And yes, there’s EXP to be earned, medals to be won, and plenty of skins, weapons and perks to be unlocked and tinkered with. All in all, Uncharted 3 is looking and playing brilliantly, and we’ve only tried the one mode so far. We’re off to have a crack at the survival co-op and 3-way deathmatch next, so look out for some more impressions real soon.
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