Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is known for its incredible single-player adventure, but there is still a lot to do when you finish Drake's quest to once again save the world. Fantastic multiplayer modes bring the fast-paced action from the campaign into a competitive setting, paving the way for chaotic matches that continually surprise and entertain. With the latest round of downloadable content, Naughty Dog has added even more ways to enjoy this superb game. Two new maps afford you fresh opportunities to swoop down on your oblivious friends from above, dropkick them in the head, and then clamber up a nearby wall to dodge the rocket screaming right toward you. But the best part of this package is a new cooperative mode in which communication and sharp shooting are critical for staying alive against waves of increasingly tough enemies. There isn't anything monumental to lure lapsed players back into the fold, but for those of you who have never left Drake's side, this offers up plenty more explosive fun.
The brand-new Siege mode is the best part of this expansion. Similar to Survival mode, it pits you and up to two friends against an aggressive force that doesn't care one iota that you're grossly outnumbered and most likely low on ammunition. The goal is to stay alive through 10 waves of enemy attacks, but you're restricted to small territories that are difficult to hold on to. Once all players are stationed inside the zone, a circle slowly fills, counting down the time needed to stay alive before you finish that wave and have to run off to the next section. The basic concept of Siege has been seen before, but there is extra tension involved when you are bound to such a small area. You can't exactly run from a fight when your friends are counting on you to hold down a territory, so you're left searching for every scrap of cover available, blind firing and lobbing grenades with reckless abandon, and doing everything in your power just to stay alive.
The most thrilling aspect of this mode happens when your friends are in need of help. A downed ally can be revived, but risking your own life to save his is a gamble in even the best circumstances. Enemies are all too eager to take advantage of your altruistic nature, and it's a heart-pounding rush to sprint toward your fallen friend and help him to his feet while you simultaneously yell at him for ever leaving cover in the first place. Even more exciting is when your unobservant friend gets caught by a grappler. This sets up a hostage situation in which you have to gun down your armed opponent without accidentally nicking your buddy with a bullet. If your aiming arm is shaky, you can always rush in to help with some timely melee moves, and there's nothing quite like landing a cheap low blow to free your friend from certain death. Siege mode ups the ante every round, rolling out progressively tougher enemies to take you down. If you don't think it sounds difficult to stay alive when you have to deal with a gang of riot-shield soldiers, Gatling-gun monsters, and fiendish snipers, just wait until a helicopter enters the mix.
The two new maps draw on levels from the single-player campaign, giving you a new way to re-create those thrilling set-piece battles. The first is called The Highrise. When Nathan Drake visited this Nepalese city the first time, he leapt out of a building just before it collapsed. Now he has to survive bullets, rockets, and the occasional punch to the head. This level emphasizes your impressive agility, giving you plenty of opportunity to leap between buildings, shimmy up ladders, or hang from ledges to take potshots at your friends. Positioning is the key to victory. You have to constantly weigh the benefits of being on high ground (increased sniping chances) with the obvious disadvantages (everyone will hate you). The most notable aspect of this stage is the environmental danger that crops up at random points during a match. Remember the helicopter that shows up in the single-player adventure? Well, its back, but you won't have a chance to gun it down this time. If you're caught standing on a rooftop when the warning sirens go off, say hello to a missile and good-bye to your life.
The other map is called The Museum. This map draws on the stealthy single-player level it's based on by offering a slower, more thoughtful experience. You are rewarded for keeping a low profile, slinking into and out of shadows, and striking with deadly precision when the opportunity presents itself. Not even the sun can reveal your location here. Dusk has settled in on this cultural institution, creating long shadows that provide a perfect hiding spot for those intent on surprising their foes. The darkness creates the feeling of fear because there are no safe corners to back into, making you constantly scan the environment lest your foes get a drop on you. But that doesn't mean you have to stay quiet and be a silent observer. There are secret passages strewn about the level for sharp-eyed players to find, making it imperative for you to be constantly on the move, hunting your friends before they get to you first.
Clearly, the content available in this pack is great. Plus, in addition to the two new maps and one new cooperative mode, there are six more skins and 11 trophies to strive for. When you combine all these features, there is plenty of content to justify the $5.99 price point. For those who are still enthralled by Drake's exploits, or if you simply crave an exhilarating cooperative experience, there is a lot of fun to be had in this expansion pack. Siege may deviate only slightly from Survival, but it's so rewarding and challenging that it doesn't matter that it isn't very original. And the maps open up new tactics, offering up unique battlegrounds in which to kill your buddies, archrivals, or just strangers who get in your way. The Siege Expansion gives you another reason to keep playing this excellent game.