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Uncharted 2: Multiplayer Treasure

In November, 2007, a new single-player adventure game was introduced to PS3 owners. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune sets the player as Nathan Drake, supposed descendant of famed explorer Sir Francis Drake, in a quest to locate the lost treasure of El Dorado. Similar to the Tomb Raider series, the game was a true action/adventure hybrid, focusing on exploration and platform puzzle solving as much as combat. It was generally well received by critics and quickly became a top seller in the US and abroad. Therefore, it was no real surprise when developer Naughty Dog announced the sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, slated to be released in the US on October 13, 2009. Set several years after the adventures in Drake's Fortune, Among Thieves finds Drake and his companions investigating the mystery of what happened to the lost ships of Marco Polo's return flotilla from China in 1292. The game will feature much of the same style of gameplay as the original and fans of the genre will likely be extremely pleased with the outing. What makes Among Thieves exciting for another group of players is the new Multiplayer mode. Noticeably missing from the first offering, Naughty Dog makes up for that oversight by including both Competitive and Cooperative Multiplayer modes. There have been several beta tests of these play modes, beginning back in June 2009, giving the development team time to tweak and modify gameplay for fun and balance.

In Competitive Multiplayer, players will be separated into teams of five, one team playing as the heroes and the other as the villains. So far, four competitive modes have been revealed. The first is Team Deathmatch. Teams square off against each other and the first team to reach a specific number of kills wins the match. In the beta I participated in, the magic number was always 50. Whether this parameter can be altered by the player is unknown at the moment. An interesting twist to Deathmatch is the initial vote on the "type" of Deathmatch the round will be. At the start of the match, players will be given an option of two maps and parameters to choose from. Majority rules, so whichever one is chosen by the most votes will be the one that is played. Aside from map variations, there are also rule variations, such as RPG-only mode, Sniper Rifle and Pistoles Only, etc. Of course, the most common is the standard "everything goes" mode. Besides Deathmatch, other competitive modes include Plunder, Elimination and Chain Reaction. Plunder is much like a Capture the Flag round, with teams having to retrieve a treasure and return it to their base, meanwhile trying to keep the opposing team from doing the same. Elimination is similar to Deathmatch. Each team spawns with five players at the beginning of a round. Players attempt to eliminate the other team, with no respawns in a round. The last team with players still standing wins the round. Win three out of five rounds to win the match. Chain Reaction is another variation of Capture the Flag, this time having teams capture specific goals in a specified order.

In Cooperative Multiplayer, players work in teams of two or three, trying to achieve certain goals. To accomplish these goals, players will have to work together to solve puzzles, defend each other from A.I. enemies and, if needed, revive their fallen comrade before a timer expires. As players participate in Multiplayer matches, they earn cash. It is the equivalent of earning experience in other games, the more cash that is earned, the higher the players' "level." As players level up, more options are unlocked and can be purchased (using said cash). These options include boosts, character skins, taunts and cooperative benefits. Unlike many multiplayer-enabled games, matches in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves start out with all players having the same equipment. The maps are littered with various weapons to be picked up and used by any player that reaches them. The only real customization/perks that players get to choose before a match are what boosts they will employ during the game. These boosts include better aim, more ammunition per clip, faster reloads, faster climbing, etc. Players can have two boosts active for any given Competitive Multiplayer match. Choosing boosts carefully based on the map and parameters of the match can make all the difference between winning or losing.

After several weeks playing the beta of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, I must admit to being somewhat excited about playing the full game once it is released. The multiplayer experience is a bit arcade-y feeling, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of focusing on tactics and precision, it has a run-and-gun feel that is fresh and exciting, keeping players alert and responsive without feeling overly repetitious. That is not to say that team tactics will not be important, but with relatively small map sizes and quick respawns, the fun is in the fight more than the planning and preparation. Good, Bad... I'm the guy with the Sniper Rifle.

-The Mung Bard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Buddy Ethridge
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