E3 Interview: We Track Down Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

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Today I caught up with Neil Druckmann and Richard Lemarchand, co-lead game designers of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, to find out more about one of the most asked about games in the comments, and not only did they talk me through the section of gameplay we saw at the SCEA press conference, they showed me a brand new trailer that offers morsels of insight into the game’s storyline.
Neil Druckmann and Richard Lemarchand, co-lead designers of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
What came as a surprise is that Chloe Fraser, the female lead in the first game, is back along with Sully and Elena Fisher – a new addition to the series that we heard about some time ago.
The story begins with Drake finding a clue to the location of Marco Polo’s lost fleet. It leads him to the valley of Shangri-La and the possibility of an even greater treasure – the Cintamani Stone, regarded as the Holy Grail of Buddhist mythology that is said to give incredible powers to whoever discovers it. However, a Serbian war criminal called Lazarevic is also searching for it…

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As the Jak and Daxter series, also created by Naughty Dog, pursued a darker direction with its sequels, I asked if Uncharted is following a similar path. “We’re exploring darker themes but we don’t want to lose that light-hearted feel,” replied Druckmann. “In the first Uncharted, Drake was kind of thrown into his hero role, but with the sequel we tried to think of what a modern day treasure hunter would be like, who he would associate with and what would motivate him.”
“It gives us the chance to explore different shades of the character,” added Lemarchand. “And the two female characters add to that in the ways that they mirror each other. Chloe has always been a morally upright character whereas Elena is wilder, with more of a thirst for adventure and self-preservation. She is from Drake’s world.”
To bring the characters to life, the actors performed both motion capture and voices, and they acted their scenes on a specialised set as opposed to a sound studio. “It really helps with that off the cuff humour that Uncharted is known for to have Nolan North, the actor behind Nathan Drake, improvising on the set and adding his personality and improvisations,” explained Druckmann.
“I don’t really know why more developers don’t work this way,” Lemarchand added, “but by doing so we feel we aren’t squandering the charisma and talent of our actors. They’re all passionate about the game and their input really helps.”
One of the often mentioned highlights of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was its incredible water physics, so I asked the guys which little details we would all be talking about this time around. “We think we did lush jungle and realistic water really well last time,” said Lemarchand, “and while they’re still there, snow and wind effects have been a big emphasis this time.”
“It’s the little details that you don’t always notice that really immerse the player,” said Druckmann. “For example, in the helicopter gunfight that you saw at the SCEA press conference, the leaves on the trees are actually swaying and rocking in relation to where the chopper is and the rotation of the blades.”
So what did you guys think of that helicopter scene at today’s press conference? I was totally blown away.

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  • The game looks awesome :) (download the e3 trailer on the PSN store)
    playing the U2 beta , any of the Blog staff taking part any set times planned ?? :)

  • Great interview, but you got Drake’s love interests mixed up. Elene was in Drakes Fortune. Chloe is the new character

    • James Gallagher

      Yeah, you got me – rushing around and all that. Anyhow, I can still confirm they’re both in the sequel (sorry)!

  • How do I get me some Uncharted 2 BETA code loving?

  • WoW top work guys. Louds of interview really ace. I cant wait for this game, I loved the E3 trailer you guys rocked E3.
    And like Sowasred. How can i get in the Beta? My inFamous did not have a key :(

  • Looks immense I must say.

  • Game of the Year!
    Naughty Dog Rocks!


    having alot of fun with the beta
    cant wait for the full game

  • I love the game. Great humor, nice visuals, very realistic and modern caracters, …
    I’m very happy to hear that Elena isn’t banned from the game, I loved her and I can hope she’ll be a lot in the game.
    The open beta is really cool to play and the balance is good. You can give naughty dog (Neil Druckmann and Richard Lemarchand) a kiss from me :D and make a picture so I can see you did :D
    Would be grate to try out the U2 beta with some people of the PS Blog ! any ideas ?

  • Loved the gameplay footage at the Sony conference, and the trailer embedded in the above post is awesome. Like, a REALLY good trailer. I’m glad the light-hearted humour of the first game is sticking around for the sequel.
    Also, before I saw that trailer, I had no idea Elena was coming back in Uncharted 2, because up until now I’d seen no mention of her at all. Glad to see that’s not the case, and I smell a love triangle :)
    <3 Uncharted.

  • To get beta keys you would have to pre-order uncharted 2 or be a member of the sony beta players on the official forums. And in some countries infamous pre-order had it too.

  • I <3 ND!!! You guys are gods of tech AND story! GOTY
    In the Uncharted 2 BETA now and it is sweet as hell!!:D

  • hi james…this is my first time doin a comment
    N e way, cant wait 4 uncharted 2, gt all the trophies on uncharted 1.
    will there b like a collecters edition or somthin like that?
    ps where is final fantasy 7 for EU store, the US has it?

    • James Gallagher

      Welcome, yuslondon.
      Haven’t heard anything about a collector’s edition and I’m guessing we’ll have to wait until closer to launch for that.
      I’ve had heaps of questions about FF VII and I’m on it, promise.

  • Great game, I love it!

  • Stinkinmushroom

    Sorry for going off-topic but could you please answer these questions?
    – Are we ever going to get a video store? You guys sais Spring 2009 when the US version started
    – Is FF7 PSN going to be released in Europe? If so, when?
    I don’t wanna be some stupid guy insisting at every post, just asking it once.
    E3 conference was awesome, thank you for that and Uncharted 2 looks sick!

  • Can we expect a Jack and Daxter in the future?

  • looks awesome.
    oh and when is final fantasy 7 coming to the store?

  • Unfortunately play.com didn’t send my beta key :( I am very sad.
    uncharted game of the year, don’t see anything else coming out (apart maybe from modern warfare 2) which could even come close to uncharted 2.
    Btw could you please ask how much the psp go will launch in the uk?

  • I was truly blown away by uncharted, it really does look amazing. The draw distance was impresive and the character models were great. There is nothing like this on any other platform.
    I really can’t wait to get my hand on this, maybe even more so than God of War or a possible Getaway game.

  • Yeah, you mixed up Chloe and Elena ;)
    Can’t wait for U2:AT!

  • Uncharted 2 is shaping up to be one of the best games of 2009. :D

  • TheBussinessMan

    Personally, I can see no competition to Uncharted 2 because it is a totally different game in terms of tone and vibe. I mean even though some gameplay mechanics might be standard, its the little details that give it a different feel, like Nathans amusing comments. I cant wait, deffinately a contender for game of the year (even though I havent played it).
    Anyways good interview.
    I just hope the online co-op and multiplayer are as good as the single player.

    • James Gallagher

      I totally agree – it’s the spirit and your connection to the characters that sets it apart from many action titles.
      Check out the beta…

  • playing the beta and im loving it
    at the beging there is a www that tell u u can leave there feedback, but aperantly this site aint working.
    so where can i post my feedback?

    • James Gallagher

      Hmm… I’ll let the guys know. In the meantime, why not share your thoughts in the forums?

  • I loved Uncharted: DF and this looks very promising too. Details are incredible. To bad it’ll be a long time before it’s released. Could do with a new challenge. :)

  • Did the camera or the cameraman die all of the sudden? I really love the video interviews from the US blog but don’t see them here… and okay I can live with that but than on the other hand I would like 2 see a Q&A style post instead of a story.
    BTW Elana and Chloe are mixed up lol, edit maybe?
    Sorry for being such a pain in the @$$ but I really would like 2 see this feedback taken care of so we can all enjoy the EU blog in the best way ;)

  • Hey James,
    the uncharted eta feedback forums are down. You cant get through to it. Theres a serious issue with the beta. Everytime you quit the game it resets your PS3 after the fans go into overdrive. As far as I know, everyone with the 60GB version is experiencing this. Im worried it will damage my PS3. Is there anyway you can pass this onto Naughty Dog. Its a shame because the beta is amazing.

    • James Gallagher

      They’re being interviewed right now but as soon as I see that they’re free, I’ll show them your comment.

    • James Gallagher

      Ok, I have a response for you. Basically, the way the beta code is written means that it will reset the system whenever you quit the game. The team are aware of it and have assured me that it applies to all models of PS3 and it will not cause any problems with your system whatsoever.
      Also, the feedback forums are being fixed and might even be up now, for all I know.
      Hope this has cleared up your concerns.

  • I’ve heard some sites are giving away beta keys.
    Will you be giving away any SCEE beta keys here on the blog?

  • So pleased Elena’s back. This game has such great characters. It’s a shame for any to die or leave.
    This was *almost* my game of the show (until that pesky GoWIII came along at the end to steal it). It blew me away again.
    Looks incredible. Certainly my most wanted game this year.

  • Hi James
    Do you know if there are any vehicle based levels like the one in Drakes Fortune where yoiu were in the jeep?
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • looks incredible, the first uncharted was my favorite game and i have a platinum.
    Also i was wondering if you had any infomation on whether cross game chat will ever come to the ps3, its the only thing ps3 is missing.

  • Hello James, and hi to all
    I am Beta trial member and I haven´t received the code yet.
    Regards from Valencia-Spain (Europe)

  • Naughty Dog have made an Epic game even more Epic – If there is an Uncharted 3 – I just CAN’T imagine what it’d be like.

  • when i saw MS confernce i think: “wow SONY can’t beat them up” but ,when i saw SONY conference i sad 2 words: “SONY RULEZZZZ” ;)
    Exelent job guys ,and sorry for my lost of faith ;P

  • Really love the work of the voice cast in the trailer. Full of humour and really expressive.
    As a comparison, I’ve just watched the new Final Fantasy 13 trailer and the voice acting in that made me cringe! I hope we get the Japanese audio option on the Blu ray!

  • Also – live blog for the Square Enix conference is taking place now:
    No video though as SE won’t allow it :(

  • oh dear god, please give us information if you will be giving out Uncharted2 beta codes on here.??.. i really wan’t to try it out

  • Looks soooooo good :D

  • Perhaps this could be a return in Sony’s story driven games.
    Having gotten halfway through Killzone 2 and about a quarter of the way through inFamous, it’s saddening to see both of these exclusives seem to lack a real driving storyline. inFamous seemingly only ruined by the comic book intros which, for me personally, really seemed to detach me from the game and Cole.
    That said, I’m enjoying inFamous and the online play of Killzone 2 was an excellent experience. Co-op would have added the cherry on the cake though.
    Uncharted 2, if it’s as excellent as the first one will be a must-have exclusive. It’s online play and co-op play bring it up to the standard of the massive Gears of War 2. Perhaps with some intriguing boss fights and a variation on scenery Naughty Dog can top this one?
    I’m almost certain they will.
    **Uncharted Home Space for EU Nao :P **

  • Uncharted 2 single player gameplay footage looked super impressive! Tell the guys to keep up the great work and get started on Jak and Daxter.

  • This game looks incredible. I loved the footage at the conference and I really love the trailer, such witty dialogue and nice voice acting.
    Blown away is the right expression, a must buy game for me!

  • Alex_Assassin_08

    god I want this game.

  • The new trailer is totally awesome. Elena & Sully are back!:D
    I can’t wait for this game. I bought last week InFamous and I played the multiplayer beta today. Can’t be better.

  • Cheers james, i didnt actually expect a response.

  • the uncharted beta feedback forum is up, but you have to fill in your redeem code and it doesn’r recognise mine as a valid one.
    but the code worked on the ps3 and i’m allready playing the game.

  • Fantastic game. I cant wait for it to be released.
    I was blown away by not only the footage shown at Sony’s conference but the trailer felt like it was taken straight from a movie as well!
    Naughty Dog have done a cracking job here. Is there any news on when Uncharted 2 is due for release?

  • Nice. Punch him in the face, steal the console it’s running on, and bring it to me, would you kindly?

  • ““It gives us the chance to explore different shades of the character,” added Lemarchand. “And the two female characters add to that in the ways that they mirror each other. Chloe has always been a morally upright character whereas Elena is wilder, with more of a thirst for adventure and self-preservation. She is from Drake’s world.””
    Did they mess the names up? I’m pretty sure Chloe is the wild one from Drake’s world.

  • Hi,
    Great post and a good trailer. Looking foward to this game.
    Do you know if the actual E3 press conference videos will be uploaded to the store? I want to watch it again in HD without the buffering and lag :D

  • James, you’re doing an awesome job so far.
    Seriously, just looking at your replies to people is awesome. Finding out from Naughty Dog themselves about the “problem” with the beta is really cool. Keep up the good work!

  • btw trailer is hollywood good… hats of

  • I can’t wait for uncharted 2. The first game is one of my favourite games on PS3 and it looks like the second is shaping up to be another future favourite. Any news on a release date? :)
    Oh and giving us a taste of the game with the beta is just cruel! There are going to be a lot of players with major withdrawal when the beta ends. :P

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