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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Demo Play: Uncharted 2 Multiplayer (PS3 Review)

I've spent an almost disturbing amount of time with the now publically open Uncharted 2 multiplayer demo - especially considering the breadth of decent gaming options open right now.

If you haven't played the original single-player only Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, it's well worth the purchase. Highly overlooked amongst early titles for the PS3, the game is still one of the better ones on the platform. Having had a taste for the sequel's online component, I'm definitely excited to see the full package.

The demo provides a couple of game modes, Deathmatch and Elimination, as well as a handful of maps and weapon sets. While "rocket launcher only" type affairs are usually gimmicky and appealing to a subset of gamers, all of the weapon setups feel correctly balanced and entertaining. The maps are splendid, well designed and packed with appealing visuals as well as multiple routes for players to run, jump, climb and roll around. Uncharted's movement gameplay allows for both running/gunning as well as stealthy cover-based action, and it's nice that these mechanics are available to the user without feeling too mandatory.

In short, as third person online shooters go - Uncharted 2 may be the best of the breed at the moment. I have a few nitpicky complaints - the grenades feel weak, the "party up" aspect feels like a miss (at least for the demo), and while the weapon balance is generally excellent - the gatling gun is a bit over the top (main complaint? way to effective at long ranges I think). But most of that just slides off the glossy greatness of the game.

Sadly - I do have one major complaint. The matchmaking can be completely brain dead at times, and while it does a good job of at least finding and creating games in general ... to wait several minutes to get into play and realize that the teams are wildly off balance can get frustrating and disappointing.

Uncharted 2 tracks player experience with a level system, so you can measure the players pretty well. Last night I (a level 27) was matched against a level 50, 43, 36, 33 and 28. So every player was more experienced than I was. My mates to help me out? A 5, 5, 4 and a 1.

Needless to say - it was a quick and bloody affair. If I recall, we managed something like 8 points before the other team hit the goal of 50. This is sadly not too uncommon either and often the lopsided matches have players jumping off the game, which just makes it that much more lopsided.

I'd be less critical of this considering it is a problem plaguing online games since their inception - if it weren't for the vast amount of statistics that get tracked. I'll concede that level alone is a poor indicator (though still a generally accurate one), but Naughty Dog tracks a wide array of facts - which you can view off their site.

Possibly this is due to high level "parties" that the server can't split up - but hopefully that means that the only defense isn't to do the same. It would at least be nice to allow players to, in some situations, swap teams during a match. I know that can be problematic and would require strict rules ... but there's been a couple of times I wouldn't mind jumping to the losing team just to make it a better match.

Regardless - it's a great demo (and, of course, hence not the final product) and proof of a top notch game. Highly, highly recommended.

1 comment:

Miles said...

True, the Multiplayer demo had problems creating fast, fair, and balanced matches. But think about it, this is just the demo. There's going to be fewer people playing the demo than playing the actual game. Fewer people = slower and less balanced games. Any way, the Multi-Demo was a blast and I can't wait till Christmas to get my complete copy.
"Mi_Dude2" Signing out now.