Hands-on with the Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta

If you’re reading this and you’ve not yet played the beta, then yes, either by robbing a bank or bribing Naughty Dog you somehow need to get into the Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta right now.  It’s that good.  For those who have pre-order Uncharted 2 or managed to snag a beta key, access is granted from September 15th.  I’m led to believe that general availability of the beta is September 29th.

My initial thoughts:  graphics are dripping with quality, gameplay is solid and spot-on, and overall it’s serious fun!

I dn’t know where to start with this initial hands-on look.  I suppose I’d like to mention first that I was very, very sceptical of the prospect of multiplayer within the Uncharted franchise.  After all, the original Uncharted remains my favourite game so far, and going through the single player adventure was enjoyable, but it was my experience, and so Uncharted felt like my personal, special game and I didn’t really want to share it with anyone.

Now that my disclosure is out of the way, I’d like to tell you right now that everything I thought before was wrong.  Naughty Dog have treated the Uncharted franchise with continuity, fluidity, and respect.  So much so that the multiplayer experience behaves and feels like the authentic Uncharted experience you remembered from the first game: perfect.  Added game mechanics, such as grabbing riot shields for cover, and lugging around heavy relics, feel like natural extensions to existing abilities.

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Hands-on with LittleBigPlanet

LittleBigPlanet is here, and gamers everywhere are giddy with excitement- and that’s just the adults!  Children are going to love this game, as in fact, will anyone really.  From what I’ve experienced, I can totally see how this can be a cult classic for the cool, hardcore gamers, but still be fun for all the family.

You’ll be glad to know that my woes with Amazon did not last long.  The package was waiting for me when I arrived home.  As I hadn’t been on my PS3 for quite some time, the usual formalities were required: download firmware update, install update, restart PS3.  Time for some LittleBigPlanet goodness then?  Apparently not: two updates needed to be downloaded and installed before I could so much as look at the loading screen.

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Hands-on with the new PLAYSTATION Store

This is just going to be a quick and short ‘hands-on’ with the Store; much more succinct than my ‘in-depth’ articles on City In The Clouds (I hope). I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to get to grips with the new Store for quite some time now. Now that I’m back home for a couple of days I can test the Store for myself and ask: was the update worth it? Well, yea; it looks visually impressive, it’s lightning fast and it just works, really. Just the way you’d expect.

The new style of the Store is visually gorgeous; great colour scheme, clear and simplified layout and new artwork for all of the content. Due to the Store now being an application built into the PS3‘s operating system, rather than being a website, the speed improvement is phenomenal.  Also the whole structure looks a lot cleaner; everything is laid out exactly where you’d expect it, making what you want easy to find.  There’s also a red PLAYSTATION Store bag showing you any purchases you’ve already made.

New-look PLAYSTATION Store

The big question though- any faults or failings with the new Store? Not really, jut minor niggles you could say. The first thing I noticed (after being impressed by the new visual design) was that the Store was a bit small on the screen. I have a 32 inch HD widescreen TV and the Store only used about two thirds of it, and so the Store felt a bit squashed and could do with taking up a bit more screen real estate in my opinion. As I say- minor niggle.

Onto a couple of other things; some of the text is a bit small, like the instructions on the PSP downloads page of how to transfer games to your PSP, however the text size problem is an issue on the PS3 in general. Lastly, each game/video/piece of content has a little square icon, but whilst navigating about for what I wanted and then waiting for quite some time, most would not load. Now I don’t know if this is a problem on the Store’s part, or whether it is my internet connection (though at 8Mbps I’d be surprised).

Overall conclusions? The new-look PLAYSTATION Store is a fantastic update over the original Store, but possibly there’s a few minor niggles that need ironing out. Does this detract from the user experience? Possibly, but if everything works as intended it’ll make getting games, updates and videos etc a lightning fast, seamless, and painless experience.

NB: The PLAYSTATION Store (PC) for PSP also got a similar visual refresh, and of course, remains in website form.