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E3 2011: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception preview

Clearly one for a sportsmanlike challenge, the mercenary stomped out to fight Drake on the open ramp, nearly smashing him and throwing him over the side in the process. With Drake badly outmatched, his only hope was to double back around the merc, make it into the cargo hold – and release the parachute on an enormous cargo crate.

That did the trick, as the crate flew out of the hold, taking the merc with it. But it didn’t stop there. A linked convoy of armored vehicles went next, followed by a few more crates – and then, as the plane started listing, by every other crate in the hold. There was no escape, and Drake was knocked out into space – at which point he grabbed the cargo netting on top of the vehicles, now caught on the ramp and dangerously close to following the rest of the cargo into oblivion. So ended the demo.

That’s not all we saw of Uncharted 3, though. Also at Sony’s booth, we took a crack at its co-op multiplayer, which let us control Sully as he and Drake scoured a crumbling, mercenary-infested Syrian fortress for treasure (a third player can also jump in as Elena, although that didn’t happen during our session). Interestingly, Uncharted 3’s co-op is separate from its central story, but it still has a story of its own – or at least its own cutscenes, during which Drake and Sully banter about their predicament.

In terms of actual gameplay, co-op featured the same action as Uncharted 3’s“regular” multiplayer – which is to say fast, varied, damn-near-perfect third-person shooter action, with plenty of cover points and cool platforming opportunities that also afforded chances to get the drop on enemies. Aside from perforating mercs and watching each others’ backs, a big part of the level we played involved both players working together to find golden idols, which were hidden inside standing stones that one player had to lift while the other grabbed the gold.

The golden idols then had to be taken (under heavy fire) to marked altars, at which point it was time to go and find another one. Just as we were about to go and hunt for the fourth and final idol, a near-indestructible merc with a heavy machinegun stomped onto the scene, stole it for himself, and subsequently dared us to take him down as he repeatedly murdered us. This forced us to try and revive one another a few times, before inevitably dying and having to try it again (luckily, co-op also features some forgiving checkpoints).

It took a handful of grenades and countless headshots, but eventually the heavy merc went down – at which point it was time to climb the outer wall of one of the castle’s towers, using bigger outcroppings as vertical cover when guards at the top started shooting down at us. A sniper pistol, left conveniently lying around nearby, was a huge help here – as were the perk-granting “kickbacks” that a feminine voice gently reminded us to use when things got especially hairy. (In addition to kickbacks, co-op will also feature its own system of perk/ability-bestowing boosters, similar to those boasted by the competitive multiplayer.)

Once we’d shot through the seemingly endless guards and reached the top of the tower, it seemed like we were in the clear – until a cutscene took over and confronted Drake and Sully with a couple of helicopter gunships. Sadly, we didn’t get to fight them, as the Uncharted 3 logo flashed onscreen and the session ended.

While our look at co-op was brief, we – and you – will get a more expansive look soon, when the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta kicks off with three separate co-op modes on June 28 (for PlayStation Plus subscribers and those with InFamous 2 pack-in vouchers, anyway; for everyone else, it’s July 5). Even if the full package doesn’t arrive until Nov. 1, Uncharted 3’s multiplayer has proven fantastic so far, and a taste of what’s to come is definitely something to look forward to.

Jun 9, 2011