by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PS3
If thereís one thing the PlayStation 3 does right, itís holding down a wide array of exclusives. Thatís not to say that the Wii and 360 donít have some truly great ones of their own, but as far as consoles go, the volume of triple-A exclusives on Sonyís system is staggering. This year alone has seen blockbusters like Little Big Planet 2, inFAMOUS 2 and Resistance 3. However, even with all of these great games already out, Sony still has one more heavy hitter coming out this November - Uncharted 3: Drakeís Deception.
The Uncharted Series is a big deal to me. Itís the reason that I finally gave in and bought a PS3 this January, marking my first time owning a Sony system. Iíd heard the hype for years from my Sony-loyal friends who praised the seriesí eye-melting visuals, deeply developed characters and movie-quality storyline. I decided that if I wanted to call myself a real gamer Iíd need to see if Naughty Dogís masterpiece was just that, or if it was simply the result of over-hype and fanboyism. When I got the first game I sat down to play a quick half hour just to get a feel for the mood. Three hours later I was still playing, engrossed by the gameís awesome mix of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. The excellent writing drew me in and made me care about the characters. The gameplay was tight and rewarding. I finished the game in a week or two, picked up the sequel, and was equally blown away again by the improvements that had been made over the original. The writing was as sharp as ever, the plot was bigger and better, and the game looked like a million bucks. I even spent a good number of hours online in a multiplayer mode that I didnít really think Iíd like. But, unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and I was left to wait seven months to continue my adventures. Now the wait is almost over.
Running out of Globe to Trot
For a man thatís already chased El Dorado and searched for Shambhala, what could possibly be next? Well, about a year has passed since his run-in with previous bad guy Lazarevic, and Drake already has his eyes set on yet another potential source of fame and fortune. If you think back to your high school world history class, you may recall a man by the name of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence (AKA Lawrence of Arabia). While serving as a liaison in the Middle East for the British Army in the early 1900s, Lawrence was told of a fabled city filled with unimaginable treasures, the ruins of which could be found somewhere in the vast Rub al-Khali Desert. Lawrence was never able to find this mystical location, but Drakeís famous ancestor might have. Nathan and Sully plan on following in his footsteps and discovering The Atlantis of the Sands for themselves.
However, as always seems to be the case, a shady group of individuals is determined to not let Drake and the gang reach their goal. In Drakeís Fortune, players squared off against Roman, a bad guy that wasnít necessarily the most physically intimidating person, but was smart and had a big mean streak. Among Thieves introduced us to Lazarevic, a hulking brute that would be right at home in an 80ís action movie. Now developer Naughty Dog is bringing us a different type of antagonist. Instead of brute strength and muscle mass, Drake will be facing off against his first female antagonist - Katherine Marlowe. A released video makes it clear that Katherine knows both of the protagonists pretty well, as she and Sully are on a first-name basis, and she talks to Drake about how he hasnít changed. Itís not clear how she knows them, but I got the impression that their relationship goes back a pretty long time. She seems to be about Sullyís age, and they clearly have a lot of familiarity and (dis)comfort around each other, so my guess is that thereís some romantic history there. Things get interesting when Katherine pulls a dagger out, asks Nathan what heís really afraid of, and takes his ring necklace claiming, that it belongs to her.
Braving the Elements
Both of the previous Uncharted games pushed the limit of console graphics further, and each one seems to set a new bar for one element in particular. Uncharted showed me the best water Iíve seen in a game to date while Uncharted 2 has amazing snow and frost effects. Now Uncharted 3 is showing some of the best fire and sand effects Iíve ever seen. Fire acts naturally and avoids the awkward, angular shapes present in so many games. Sand shifts and moves extremely realistically. In fact, the people in charge of setting how sand acts in the game spent a number of days out in Californiaís Imperial Dunes just to study how sand reacts to different things. Adding to these is an impressive new slew of animations.