Uncharted 2: The Best Surprise Of 2009

14 01 2010

by xeroxeroxero

As anyone who has been following me on Twitter can attest, I’ve been very much a fan of Uncharted 2. After playing the original, watching teaser trailers, pouring over leaked images and otherwise hyping myself up for the second, the one thing I was sure of was a fantastic single player experience. What I wasn’t sure of going in however, was its multiplayer. How wrong I was.

For me the biggest surprise of 2009 wasn’t a game like Flower or Noby Noby Boy getting a release in western markets, it wasn’t Street Fighter 4 successfully making the leap to 3D, it wasn’t even a Batman game being good. What shocked me most about last year’s releases was the multiplayer aspect of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Initially I was surprised, almost appalled at the idea of including multiplayer in what had been, up until this point, a superbly paced narrative with likeable characters, in a very single player driven experience. Why on earth would the developers set aside valuable time, resources and creative energy on an element potentially no one would play? At the time of the multiplayer announcement, it was clear Uncharted 2 would have a fight on its hands Q4. With a new Call Of Duty looking to once again dominate the competitive gaming space, it surely didn’t need this to contend with on top of being a format exclusive sequel to an original that received a very mixed reception.

Yet Naughty Dog ploughed ahead, confident in this new endeavour… and by gosh they pulled it out of the bag! Offering some of the best multiplayer action I’ve played in the last five years, Among Thieves doesn’t try anything too fancy, nor does it particularly innovate, but what it does do is look to the best titles out there for its inspiration. Experience and money is accrued throughout the online experience with a persistant profile; levelling up your character, allowing access to bonuses and game changing improvements to your character. Always getting pinned down by fire? Choose the blindfire perk to improve your accuracy when firing from behind cover. Not packing enough punch? Choose weapon upgrades to really take the enemy down a notch. It’s certainly nothing we haven’t seen before, but it adds to the depth of play to ensure you come back for more.

Speaking of depth, the number of game types available to players is impressive, with survival, death match, capture the flag etc. all represented well here. From a purely technical perspective, finding a game is fast, the lobby system is decent and the game doesn’t falter in terms of presentation either, matches are smooth, connections are strong and balancing is good, for the most part.

Where you’ll have the most fun though is the game’s online co-op, taking in locales used in the main game but providing a different, non-canonical story experience. It’s here that communication is key, not simply for the mission’s success, but to experience the true enjoyment of the title, namely: Dicking Around. The plot is full of cliché, making it perfect for snarky comments between players, likewise when a tank comes rumbling into view and you’re armed with little more than harsh language, it’s a real moment of joy to hear yourself and two other compatriots simultaneously exclaim ‘Jesus Christ!’ with a tone of apprehension and giddy excitement.

Uncharted 2’s multiplayer is truly special because it sparks that feeling of childlike wonder we so rarely experience as adults. It serves as an example of why we shouldn’t judge games before trying them for ourselves, that we should be optimistic as to what Naughty Dog bring to the table with the inevitable sequel and that when game designers take real risks, sometimes, sometimes, it pays dividends.

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4 responses

14 01 2010
Balaenidae

Don’t know that I agree about the lobby, It could be simpler and the loading screens take a long time to do their thing, it is all worth it though.

18 01 2010
Student1

I can’t disagree Uncharted isn’t a fun game, but seriously once I finished it I never touched it again. There is multiplayer, but like the prior poster said loading times are awful… there is no excuse for such long loading times, if atleast it had an option to copy the game to hd, but if this HUGE wait time is caused by BR access time there is really no excuse!

If the loading times werent so terrible I would probably have enjoyed this game a lot more, as its stands my time is better spent with demon souls and street fighter 4 (nothing still comes close to those two for me…)

18 01 2010
xeroxeroxero

So… you enjoyed the game? I don’t think I can’t not tell.

I think your point about load times is valid, there are a few titles that are quicker to get into a match (especially ones that live or die by their multiplayer) but citing SF4 as an example is ludicrous. With Street Fighter load times once you’ve found a match are fine, certainly, but finding a game is a nightmare, the game is still really unbalanced, the lag can be crippling at times and now only the hardcore are playing, it isn’t fun anymore.

Loading Uncharted to the HD would have been beneficial, there’s no doubt about this (perhaps Naughty Dog will include this for the third), but once you’re in a match the game plays beautifully, I’d rather have this than between round loading or a stuttering frame rate.

30 01 2010
Tricky3103

I agree with xeroxeroxeros last comment in regars to DF.

Yes it can take a bit of time to find a game in the lobby, especially if your in a party. I have found that the wait is well worth it.

Once your in it runs fantastic and whilst at times you get players hunting in packs there is no where near the same level of ‘rule bending’ that can often become apperent in online mulitiplayer games.

The only critisism is that whilst onlline its great, we are ready for additional areanas/maps/abjective and I fear that unless these are introduced soon players will lose interest.. Cuummon ND. !!!

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