Oct 18, 2011

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Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Impressions

Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Impressions

PS3 gamers still have to wait two more weeks for Nathan Drake to grace store shelves, but Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception can be experienced now courtesy of SUBWAY restaurants. The “Taste for Adventure” promotion has made Uncharted 3′s competitive multiplayer open to everyone. After spending about 20 hours leveling up to the beta’s cap, I can safely say that Uncharted 3 offers an exciting multiplayer experience that will keep you coming back for more.

Fans of Uncharted 2‘s multiplayer will find familiar elements in Uncharted 3, but the game has received a competitive facelift that adds depth and replayability. With custom loadouts, you can tailor your character and stats to fit your playstyle. Boosters function much like perks in other shooters. You can select two per loadout, and their effects range from faster climbing to a clip of ammo for taunting an opponent’s corpse. Meanwhile, medal kickbacks function like kill streaks, except bonuses are granted by obtaining a certain number of medals. Medals are awarded for everything from pull-down kills to grenade throw-backs to assists. As a result, the kickback system rewards you for actually playing well, rather than just boasting a high K/D ratio.

Uncharted 3 Multiplayer on Highrise

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When compared to other games, Uncharted 3 doesn’t offer a whole lot of weapons. Thankfully, what’s there is well-rounded. Mid-range gunners will appreciate both the AK-47 and M9, while the burst-fire G-MAL and powerful Dragon Sniper give hunters their tools. Matchmaking will set you up with players to try your skills against, and it’s the only option for now (custom games will be added in the final release). Matchmaking isn’t as fast here as in Call of Duty: Black Ops, but things should pick up when players pour in on launch day. I’ve also encountered issues where teams were unfairly stacked. Once you get into a match, the action proceeds with signature Uncharted movement. You can climb, shimmy, leap, and roll across each map in a myriad of ways. I’ll never know why every character in the game is as mobile as Nathan Drake, but when the aging Katherine Marlowe leaps from a 50-foot tower, hits the ground rolling, and snaps the neck of a passing Victor Sullivan, it’s a sight to behold.

Sprinting was added to the game for UC3. Where sprinting in the beta limited your lateral movement, you can now change directions with remarkable fluidity. This change has made the game more mobile than ever, for better or worse. During my time with the game, I’ve encountered balance issues that tend to sway back-and-forth. A lot of players find success sprinting around the map, hip-firing with the Arm Micro while mid-range guns like the AK struggle to keep up. There are so many factors at work here (including player skill, verticality, and whether sprinting is involved) that make pinning down the real problem difficult. In close-quarters, you simply can’t aim fast enough to keep up with a sprinting opponent. Thankfully, these problems occurred early on and have since been addressed by Naughty Dog. The latest patch (released on October 17) increases the stopping power effect while decreasing hip-fire accuracy. In my brief time testing these changes, I’ve found that hip-firing has been reduced to what it should be: either a frantic impulse or a very risky tactic for players dedicated to rushing their enemy.

Despite concerns about hip-fire tactics, the weapons and boosters as a whole are very balanced. Historically, I’m a terrible sniper and long-range player, but with some practice I was able to find success with the Dragon Sniper and G-MAL. Still, I often favor the solid rate of fire and predictable recoil of the M9. However, boosters and attachments mean that high-level players will have an advantage over those just getting started. The effect isn’t enough to be frustrating, but the G-MAL with Accuracy mod is just plain better than a vanilla AK-47, just as an AK with faster reload speed is inherently better than one without. Thankfully, this problem can be mostly overlooked given the sheer number of ways you can attack your opponents The game’s excellent environments reinforce creative freedom. Every map is very detailed, offering plenty of useful cover along with shortcuts limited only by your acrobatic imagination. As with many shooters, certain areas of the map don’t get used frequently, but Uncharted 3 does a better job than most making all sorts of approaches and vantage points viable.

Speaking of maps, we’re now up to eight for the SUBWAY promo (five more than were playable in the beta). You’ll recognize Chateau, Airstrip, and Yemen right away from the beta, but Syria, Desert Village, London Underground, Highrise, and Molten Ruins have been added to the mix. While Yemen remains my favorite, Molten Ruins and London Underground make strong cases for second-best. The former is a remake of The Flooded Ruins from Uncharted 2, trading water for fiery earth and a glowing temple. Objects for cover are all over the place and favor patient players who make smart movement choices. A really high tower at the map’s center adds an excellent risk-reward element: players who are able to scurry up the side without being shot will find a secure view of the whole battlefield, but be sure not to stand near the edge. A pull-down kill is incredibly satisfying and a great incentive for other players to climb up to your perch.