Sometimes things pop through your letterbox that evoke the same emotional response as mail ordered Spectrum games used to when I was a kid. Yesterday it was a plainly marked Blu-ray that said “Uncharted 3: Preview” and I did a little fist-pump akin to when Bombjack made the same entrance nearly thirty years earlier.
I didn’t, of course, it’s just a game. But if I was still a nipper I’d be punching that air like Drake himself.
It's an iconic image, but it's one that looks set to define the game's second portion. At least, that's if our guesses at the level numbers check out.
They’re designed so that pulling out a gun and plugging away, as you’re used to, isn’t really an option either – seeing opponents circle strafe you is odd and whilst I understand the need to break up the slugging, it’s not really handled very gracefully. Hopefully the final game sees a little more refinement in this area.
Thankfully, though, with that out of the way, the rest of the game is utterly astounding. Don’t panic – I’m still a massive fan of Uncharted’s single player and nothing has changed about the way everything other than fighting in Uncharted 3 to make me feel any differently. In fact, my love for Naughty Dog has only increased.
In short – this is still wonderful entertainment. The Chateau level that you’ve all seen a couple of times is a pleasure to finally play through without interference, and although there’s little to explore off the beaten (burning) path, the ability to take your time and admire the scenery is most welcome. The visuals, once the first fire is lit, are breathtakingly done, the smoke, the colouring, the fact that everything around you is collapsing – it’s like the very best action movie you’ve ever seen, in real time.
The cover-based shooting still works too, but it’s the sense of unpredictability and chaos that makes Uncharted 3 such a good game, and as the level progresses and Drake and Sully (who’s still a brilliant asset to the series) get into ever mode ridiculously dangerous situations, the sudden fade to black as you make your final escape is gutting and cruel. Cliffhanger indeed.
The other location, the plane sequence you’ve also probably seen, is equally good fun. The initial stealthy section is short-lived (and featuring a really buggy video segment) but the bit in the jeep chasing the landing gear is a blast and then once you’re up, the couple of minutes as you battle to stay alive as all the cargo becomes an obstacle immediately outs the previous game’s train sequence in terms of sheer inventiveness and spectacle.
It’s a wild ride, for sure, and Naughty Dog pull a similar trick at the end, just as Drake’s world comes crashing down. For the record, a pop-up half way through suggests we’re seeing the seventeenth level, which might give you some idea on whereabouts the desert section kicks in. No spoilers though, not least because we’ve no idea what happens next.
And that’s probably the biggest complaint with this disk – it’s the first time media has had unmetered access to the game, but by the same token it’s the same bits of the game we’ve been seeing for months. Sure, it’s great to be able to experience the game (and I’ll be playing through both sections multiple times) but I’d have loved to have seen a new level for the first time, so that the experience is fresh and unknown.
I can’t wait, though. If the segments on show here are indicative of the full game, Drake’s Deception surely looks set to showcase what the PS3 is capable of like nothing else – the visuals are lovely, the animation sublime, the gameplay (QTEs aside) nigh on perfect. Uncharted, for me, defined the console’s formative years and the third such game will bookend Sony’s latest machine just as the Vita version rolls into view.
Now then, that might prompt a fist pump.