Of the few publications running Uncharted 3 previews just now, it’s Future’s Edge magazine that hits the spot so resoundingly – the ten page special in issue 223 not only graces the cover and goes in-depth with Naughty Dog’s new game, but it also includes a two page interview on gaming exposition, with some fascinating insights into crafting the perfect story.
Obviously we want everyone to go out and buy the magazine, but it’s probably worth picking out a few highlights as a teaser, and there’s some cracking slices of new information hidden in the extensive text. For starters, Naughty Dog co-president Christophe Balestra reveals that the second game, Uncharted 2, didn’t even fit into memory three weeks before the game was shipped. “The day we have no solution for that,” he says, “that’s going to be a real problem.”
Uncharted 3 is set around Drake searching for an object in Ubar, an Arabian city known as the Iram of the Pillars, and the trial set by Francis Drake in the first game continues here, although players can expect plenty of plot based on explorer TE Lawrence (yes, he of Arabia). The game will, according to the article, push Drake to the “limits of his endurance” and “threatens to conjure all of his deepest fears.”
Indeed, Naughty Dog’s Amy Hennig suggests the enemy this time is something a little different. “A kind [Drake] hasn’t seen before,” she says, “a more insidious… ancient and sinister order” and it’s one that some suggest might be involved with the somewhat mysterious death of Lawrence himself.
Sand, as you’ll have seen from the various screenshots, will feature heavily, replacing the snow from the last game and the jungle from the first. Naughty Dog promise drifts, sandstorms, mirages and heat hazes, sand, then, “in all its forms.” Not that the yellow stuff will be the only location in the game: “it’s hard to give even a rough estimate,” says Even Wells, promising “several environments,” some of which “aren’t even remotely sandy.”
Game changes? Weapons are now automatically picked up, combat is now much more up close and personal and the enemy AI much improved, including what looks like proper squad dynamics – the magazine describes Drake being grabbed from behind and fighting off an assailant in front. Likewise, animation has been ramped up considerably, with 32 cameras in the motion capture studio last used by the Beowulf movie.
In terms of performance, Uncharted 3 uses all six of the PS3’s free SPUs but at a far more advanced and efficient rate. Uncharted 2 used all six too (Uncharted just used two) but the difference is akin to “street-car” and “Formula 1” levels of performance. “We’re at full speed,” says Balestra of the game’s single player, although the team clearly don’t yet want to talk about multiplayer apart from to say that it’s a “massive component” compared to the last.
Wells does admit that we might see the return of Drake’s love interest, though. “Some of the characters from the past games will return,” he says, but confirms that the most important relationship will be between Drake and Sully.
We can’t wait to get our hands on the game ourselves, even the chateau level we’ve already seen looks absolutely stunning, as well we’d expect. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the article though, which is a wonderful read (as is the rest of the magazine, as normal) and covers plenty more aspects to the game (and the past two) so anyone looking to learn more about Uncharted 3 would do well to grab a copy. Edge’s online site is here.