What can be expected from a franchise such as Naughty Dog? Well, Naughty Dog knows what a good game needs, since they've done it twice already this generation and many times before it. The final release of the multiplayer experience in Uncharted 3 is now here for everyone to try. Does it improve on what we all found to be great?
The biggest gripes I had in my feature The Dangers of Progress rested in both shooter mechanics and authentic character movement. The Early Access content doesn't have either of those issues. In fact, it has exceeded my expectations. Players trip over geographical bumps and obstacles, and the character movement is once again back to its fluid glory. Essentially, the unique featurettes of Uncharted are firmly held intact, as well as the mechanics, which can only be found presently in an Uncharted game.
With all that aside, Uncharted 3 adds a few great features, including both Kickbacks and a Buddy System. Kickbacks would be Uncharted's version of kill steak bonuses familiar to first person shooters. However, kickbacks are accumulated by collecting treasures from both player kills and from treasure chests that spawn around the map. Having those options creates a very dynamic need for understanding each map in order to maximize efficiency.
Speaking of maps, to directly quote the old Campbell's soup commercials, "Mmm, mmm, good." Many of the great maps from Uncharted 2 make a return to Uncharted 3, including Highrise and Facility. All of the maps, including the new ones, are all detailed vividly and hold many nooks, crannies, and vantage points for everyone to exploit in so many ways. Camping is difficult in this game, unlike many other games. This could be due to the robust gameplay style within the game, including maneuvers such as gunning while hanging and melee takedowns. It could also be due to the very open and impeccable level design which allows for all gameplay functions to thrive within each map, making camping a very difficult means of trolling.
Many new maps also feature scenes and events. One map, called Desert Village, includes a dust storm which essentially destroys vision and increases intensity of gameplay. Another map called the London Underground has a train scene that leads to the final showdown at a broken down depo.
The weapon system has changed as well. Instead of now only having a few weapon options and enhancing the weapons through boosters, the weapon options have increased to include the G-MAL, M9, Pistole, Arm Micro, and even the Dragon Sniper Rifle. Weapons also have customization options within each Loadout, or preset payloads of weapons and boosters, such as reload speed and increased accuracy. And boosters are solely meant to make gameplay more interesting. Being able to climb like a monkey, for example, or being able to sprint more often, or even gaining money when your Buddy System partner goes on a killing spree.
The very impacting voice acting makes its glorious return, which almost removes the need for user smack talk. A character speaks for itself when laughing after making a kill, or cheering when someone goes down by his or her hand makes victory all the more sweeter. Even when the times are tough, like when a grenade has taken a seat next to you, the character will often react in a surprised manner to let you know something is wrong.
General multiplayer experiences over the years have been about giving consumers what they want. I feel that Naughty Dog is the only development team to truly do that. Sure, Call of Duty has brought highlights and full access websites to their games, but the full intrigue involved in developing actual character within a multiplayer experience hadn't been done until Uncharted 2 arrived, and Uncharted 3 has enhanced a system that seemingly didn't need anything else, outside of tweaks and modifications. The sprint introduction has made the flow of offense and defense even more defined, and the loadout system and Kickbacks on top of a well-established multiplayer experience has simply made a great game better. Once again, Naughty Dog has taken our expectations and flipped then on their head, giving us exactly what we want and more, making this multiplayer experience one that wills dedication rather than requires it. Once again, Naughty Dog has enhanced a system that, as we saw it, didn't need it. And once again, Naughty Dog gave us exactly what we want in a multiplayer experience: a damn good old time.