By now, you’ve no doubt seen the first UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception trailer (along with the 11-1-11 release date) at the Spike Video Game Awards. You might’ve even seen a bit of the game in action on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Today, even more came out about UNCHARTED 3, as Naughty Dog and SCEA hosted media in Hollywood for a more in-depth look at the game.
Worry not, those of you who feared the entirety of Drake’s Deception would take place in the swirling sands of the Rub’ al-Khali Desert. The scene we witnessed (demoed in real time) took place in a dilapidated French chateau. Nathan Drake and Sully are following the trail of T.E. Lawrence (you’ve likely heard of “Lawrence of Arabia”) to find a clue that’ll take them to the lost Arabian referred to as “The Atlantis of the Sands.”
Before reading on, take a look at this excerpt, which shows about a quarter of what was demoed.
Early on, we see some of the details that Game Director Justin Richmond tells us to keep an eye out for: Drake jumping onto, and then off of a swaying chandelier, climbing not only up, but backwards if he reaches a ledge, and new contextual animations that show Drake interacting more with his surroundings (e.g. placing your hand along a wall for balance as you approach it).
And here in a secluded corner of France, it quickly becomes clear that you’re not the only one on Lawrence’s trail. At this point it’s not clear exactly who’s standing in the way of our protagonists, but they’ve got guns… and really, that’s all that matters right now. Even worse, they’re pouring gasoline throughout the villa and lighting the place on fire.
“It is important to mention that the fire is happening in-game (it’s not a cutscene) and it looks absolutely incredible. Panic sets in, so the goal of the rest of the demo is to get Drake and Sully out of the quickly burning chateau alive! You can only imagine how cool all of this is.“ – Chad Concelmo, Destructoid
Now that you’re not only escaping the fire, but fighting your way through enemies at the same time, more new features are demonstrated. When Drake happens upon an enemy below him, he can now take him down stealthily from above. Ezio Auditore would be proud. In one of the new “Brawl style” combat situations, one enemy held back Drake while another took a couple of jabs – then pulled a gun to try and cap him. He dodged, and the captor was more than a little worse for the wear.
“Even this early on in the game’s development, it feels that the combat will offer a robust, but logical set of surprises and “Oh, sh*t!” moments as the adventure progresses…” – Christopher Monfette, G4
The environment shown is incredibly dynamic; Drake isn’t climbing on a static, beautiful jungle gym, but rather a crumbling façade that seems as if it’s trying to kill him even more than the well-armed enemies in the mansion. At times it seems like Nathan Drake has the worst luck in the world, but always musters just enough to survive.
“The changing structure of the world was akin to the twisting suspended train car of Uncharted 2, which fell apart as Drake scaled it, only this level transformed more dramatically, more organically.” – Michael McWhertor, Kotaku
At one point, Drake gets his foot caught in a rotted staircase (not unlike Phil’s broken step from “Modern Family”). When an enemy tries to take advantage of the stumble, Drake shoots from the hip while Sully works to free him.
“Moments where you actually feel like a team are really cool, and I’m interested to see how Naughty Dog expands on them through the game.” – Greg Miller, IGN
Ascending through a crumbling building demonstrates not only the stellar, bleeding-edge visuals, but upgraded sound effects – the firing of the assault rifle just sounds more… real, and the punches thrown seem to carry even more weight this time out. Of course, the series’ trademark witty banter between Drake and Sully remains intact, lending a bit of levity to the serious situation.
“The action delivered on the cinematic thrill moments as huge chunks of the chateau caved in or shifted as Nate made his way to different potential escape routes. We were especially impressed by how smoothly the heart-stopping cinematics of a collapsing roof or floor would cut into the action just long enough to get you to jump without interrupting the flow of gameplay.” – Ricardo Torres, GameSpot
The scene ended not with a close shave and some relieved tension, but with things going from bad to worse as our heroes are engulfed in the conflagration. We’re not going to see how this one plays out until next November.
After the demo, we had a chance to speak on camera with Creative Director Amy Hennig and Game Director Justin Richmond. You’ll see that later this month.
What to do until then? How about go behind the scenes of the making of that VGA’s trailer. Naughty Dog’s Arne Meyer sat down with the 2 Player Productions crew to get a more in-depth look at their influences, process and philosophy that drives their high-quality documentary work.