Thanks to my unwavering persistence and a little bit of Twitter sleuthing, I was able to get my hands on an Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta code and I decided I would share with all of you kind people my impressions. Aren’t I nice?

In case you haven’t played the first Uncharted, I’ll give you a brief rundown on what it’s about. Uncharted is basically the video game equivalent of a blockbuster action/adventure movie (aren’t they all nowadays?). It didn’t do anything revolutionary in terms of gameplay or subject matter, as it borrowed from many creative sources. Think Tomb Raider platforming and Gears of War shooting/cover system with an Indiana Jones movie veneer. On paper it sounds really derivative, but the fact of the matter is that the game was incredibly polished and had excellent dialogue and voice acting. Nathan Drake, the game’s protagonist and smart-aleck hero, is admittedly one of the best video game characters of all time with regard to personality. Cutting to the chase, Uncharted had no multiplayer component as it was a superb single player adventure. This time around, Naughty Dog is ramping things up by including online competitive and cooperative multiplayer. This irked me as I’m generally against including multiplayer for every single game that comes out. On the business end, companies like it because it’s believed to extend the longevity of the game as consumers are always trying to get the most bang for their buck, but no matter what, this will always compromise the single player experience and overall development to some degree and, more often than not, contribute little or nothing to the end product. So, what do I think about my time with the beta? Come here and sit on papa Nacho’s lap, and I’ll tell you all about it! (Don’t worry; those are just my keys in my pocket).

On the competitive end of things, the beta featured Standard Deathmatch and Plunder game modes. I tend to find Deathmatch a bit boring in third person games with shooting, unless the game is really doing something special with its mechanics (see: Red Faction: Guerrilla). That being said, I’m inclined to categorize Uncharted 2 a third person action/adventure game with shooting, as opposed to a third person shooter because the game isn’t really all about the shooting. Given this and the fact that the game also doesn’t bring anything truly different to the table (yet), I don’t feel like this mode really complements or contributes much to the Uncharted experience. Uncharted 2 does try to spice things up with the equivalent of a perks system based on your multiplayer rank, which allows you to equip two different types of combat bonuses such as increased accuracy for a certain weapon class, bonus ammo, etc., but it just seems like very standard fare. I didn’t attain a very high rank, so I was only able to access these basic perks, but perhaps on release they will tweak the system a bit to include some more compelling, game changing abilities. By no means though does Uncharted 2 feel like a drag. Its shooting and cover mechanic is competent, in fact it plays extremely well, but as I said before, the Deathmatch experience isn’t really going to wow you, even with Uncharted’s Tomb Raider-esque acrobatics coming into play on the maps. Did he say Tomb Raider? Yes, I did. Tomb Raider minus the boobs. What I mean to say is that there is some verticality to the levels as players can climb structures and ledges to help them get to good vantage points which creates potential for advantages over enemies below, but I still found that most of the action ended up taking place on the ground anyway.

Plunder mode on the other hand was a bit more interesting. Plunder is essentially Capture the Flag, but instead of the aforementioned flag, teams are struggling to return a piece of treasure at the center of the map to their home base. This mode can get pretty frenetic as once someone has hold of the treasure, they move much slower and are limited to using only their handgun, making them ripe for the killing. However, the player carrying the treasure can throw it to keep the up the pace of things. The Plunder matches I played ended up being the most fun as they kind of became a game of Hot Potato, but with bullets and grenades. HIGH FIVE!

On the cooperative side, you can join up with up to two others players and play through a non-story mode mission. This involves getting from one end of the level to the other and killing enemy AI along the way. The only true co-op mechanic is a prompt for the player to press a button when standing in a highlighted area to either lift some rubble or push something out of a window at the end of a section, which then allows players to move on to the next area of the level. This felt pretty poorly implemented. I felt that the way Resident Evil 5 was structured, it incorporated a sense of co-operative play very organically, but Uncharted 2’s approach to co-op felt a bit tacked on. It was more like three individuals versus the enemy AI. I hope some serious effort goes into improving this mode on release.

Well that’s the end of story time. I guess my verdict on the multiplayer component is that I could take it or leave it. I wouldn’t be upset if it wasn’t there, but it’s nice that it is and there is potential for some fun. Perhaps the inclusion of some more interesting game modes and some tweaks to the co-op mode will improve the overall experience and keep it from simply being a brief diversion and a marketing bullet point. I only hope that development of multiplayer didn’t translate to too large a sacrifice in the single player experience because that’s what Uncharted really is about after all.

If any of you guys out there managed to check out the beta as well, give us a shout and let us know what you thought. Now get off my lap and go bother your mother.