Many gamers around the world know Naughty Dog as the studio who created the original PlayStation mascot, Crash Bandicoot. However, Naughty Dog has grown up, and if they have it their way, you'll now remember them for the adventures of Nathan Drake as he pursues the lost treasure of El Dorado. We had a chance to take Nathan through his paces at the PlayStation Holiday Event in Toronto.
As mentioned above, you play the game as Nathan Drake, descendant of actual English Privateer Sir Francis Drake. Nathan is a wisecracking Indiana Jones type who is quick with his words and even quicker with his fists. As he and his female compatriot are flying to an uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, their plane is shot down and they are forced to abandon their aircraft. Now, they are stranded on an island in a race against time with some bloodthirsty pirates for the lost gold of El Dorado.
Combat in the game is very similar to Gears of War. If you run out into the open, you'll be gunned down by pirates faster than you can say "ARRRR". With a press of the X button, Nathan will slam to cover, be it low rocks, pillars, or corners. A pull of the left trigger will allow you to pop out and aim a few shots. These pirates feature some fearsome AI that are constantly changing their tactics and trying to outflank you. Constant movement from cover to cover is an absolute must. While the demo never reached the outright chaos and intensity of Gears' most harried battles, Uncharted takes a more methodical and realistic approach to combat that is a ton of fun in its own right.
The game also features some Tomb Raider style environmental puzzles, where Nathan must free climb rocky walls and swing from vines to get around. These sections were visible in trailers for the game, but unfortunately were not available to try out during the demo.
Controls in the demo felt decent, but a little bit slippery. It seemed rather difficult in a few spots to line up a jump or to make precise movements with the aiming reticule. This is by no means a gamebreaker, and there's plenty of time to tighten the screws a bit before the game is released.
Graphics are another animal all together. Uncharted is a phenomenal looking game. Naughty Dog has created a multi-layered animation system that creates some very convincing minute movements that add to the realism of the game. For example, run up to a wall and take cover. Nathan will stumble a bit and slam his back against the wall. If a bullet ricochets near his head, he will actually flinch and react convincingly. Facial animation in the game and cutscenes is a marvel to behold, and all the characters give off emotions that would not be out of place in a film. Uncharted brings the power of the PlayStation 3 to life.
Uncharted is certainly looking like a killer exclusive title for the PlayStation 3. Can it be the exclusive title that propels Sony to a Merry Christmas? Time will tell when the game is released on November 20th.