Charting a New Course

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has multiplayer. Multiplayer! Three-player co-op and competitive too! We played it! It's awesome! Read about it here or we'll throw more exclamation points at you!
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 27, 2009
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It would have been nice to say that we weren't expecting Naughty Dog's big, huge reveal of an undisclosed feature of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, but we weren't. We knew it was coming, but even with the knowledge that the game would probably have some kind of online multiplayer and even knowing that it would do co-op in some form, we were still blown away.

For starters, the cooperative portion of the game isn't just two people, it's three: Nathan Drake, newcomer and hottie from his past Chloe Frazer andů (drumroll) Victor "Sully" Sullivan -- yep, Sully's back, which only made us wonder about Elena Fisher, but as you'll soon learn, she's not entirely out of the picture. Short of the first game's melee attacks now being one-off affairs in multiplayer instead of combos, we slipped right into the co-op experience without missing a beat. We grabbed cover, clambered over it, popped out and started gunning bad guys down effortlessly (that's what four trips through the original to get a Platinum Trophy will do to a man).

If the actual combat was wholly familiar, though, the way it was presented was entirely new. In shades of Insomniac's work on Resistance 2, the co-op portion is mention to be a separate experience that piggybacks at times off the levels and environments seen in the single-player portion. We tooled around a modified version of the reddish-orange-bathed level showcased so far, but it was subtly different. For starters, the scripted sequence that had a road blocked off and Nate clambering around never happened, so instead all three players had to work together to boost one player up and onto some broken signs, into a bombed-out building and tip a bookshelf out the window to allow the rest of the "team" to climb onward.

The bookshelves were used a few times as makeshift staircases, and in all the events, a simple red circle would appear on the ground where all players would meet and hold the Triangle Button. A few similar sequences where rafters had to be lifted were employed and in one of them, as Drake struggled to keep a beam upright, Chloe stepped underneath first, but not before giving him a playful slap on the ass. Sully followed, Drake slipped under the beam and they moved on.

Despite having three players and many, many enemies present in the levels, the lighting and texture work (to say nothing of the now-famous animations) were absolutely gorgeous. Milky chunks of light poured through open spots in a small greenhouse's shattered windows, the entire level was awash in a almost bronzy tint and puddles of rippling water snuck between broken cobblestone-like streets. It was enough to make a guy stop and stare -- until the enemies started firing.

See, the co-op portion of the game has plenty of teamwork moments, but it's far more heavily populated with sequences where shootouts happen in 360 degrees. This led to all three of us players constantly communicating. Shouts of "behind you!" and "I'm dying!" bounced around the smallish hotel space even as another set of three players collaborating on their own game did the same. Naughty Dog had mercifully altered the mode so that all three of us could die and would just respawn, but in the regular game, if all three players went down, that was it. Only scooting up near someone and holding the Triangle button until a circular red meter filled completely could bring them back.

This was no easy task at times, as a regular intervals, heavily armored, chaingun-wielding grunts would open fire at one of us making a break from cover into the open (stupid, but then we'd just started playing). It emphasized the fact that, despite far more enemies that would drop in from all parts of the level, cover was still as important as ever -- and flanking baddies or watching each other's six even moreso. After dealing with multiple waves of enemies and juuuust as we were starting to get a feel for the pacing, the level did a 180 on us and dropped in a combination of snipers and sneaky commando types that would get behind one of us and work to snap our necks. If one of the other players couldn't gun down the bad guy before he did his work, then it was revival time. Given that these characters couldn't be taken down as easily with a melee attack and snipers were constantly scanning the open areas with their laser targeting scopes, this was easier said than done.
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