Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception E3 2011 Hands-On Preview -- Flying High and Paying the (Stunning) PriceBy Kevin Kelly - Posted Jun 15, 2011
Imagine a world where a preview of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception reads something like "As Naughty Dog's first major misstep, Uncharted 3 represents nothing short of a disaster in the world of video game development." Can you do it? Don't worry, I couldn't either. In fact, if anything, the game keeps managing to hurdle our already insanely high standards and continue to impress us. If you're anywhere near a PlayStation 3, then you know that this is one of that system's most highly anticipated games. Thankfully, the developer understands that, and isn't coat-tailing this sequel onto store shelves.
While the game was highly featured at Sony's E3 2011 press conference, showing off the above gameplay video and an extremely cinematic (and awesome) trailer, what they showed us behind closed doors was a complete demo of the cargo plane sequence, which you only catch a glimpse of in the trailer. It starts off with Drake and Elena continuing their romantic entanglement from the last game. Approaching a security gate on an airfield, Drake (who is in pain or winded from some previous misadventure) tells Elena that he'll clamber to the top of the gate and then help her up and over.
However, once he reaches the top, he drops down and tells her not to follow him. He saw her almost get killed before, and he couldn't live with himself if that happened. While she's determined to follow him, his words slowly disarm her. He urges her to take a nearby Jeep and get out of there, and she reluctantly concedes. It's a very tender moment between two characters that could easily have resonated hollow. Instead, there's an emotional impact here, which pays off later in the level (in a minor spoiler that you'll see coming from an airfield away).
With Elena safely away, Drake tries to stealth his way into the airfield in order to approach a parked cargo plane, but he is quickly spotted, and everyone is sent after him. Rather than face the overwhelming odds, he opts to go vertical and starts climbing on the stacked shipping containers placed around the area. It's very reminiscent of Indiana Jones' "make it up as I go along" philosophy as Drake punches some foes, shoots others, and performs Superman leaps from container to container, sometimes landing on baddies and incapacitating them.
As he scrambles off of one container and onto a seemingly well-stacked collection of crates and boxes, they give way beneath Drake, sending him painfully to the floor. It's those kind of touches, the ones that show that Drake isn't a perfect movie-star hero, that really add depth and detail to the game. I don't care how good your vertex shaders and polygon counts are; it doesn't mean anything if they don't have a good story and believable characters behind them.
Finally breaking onto the tarmac, Drake sprints after the now-departing plane in an exercise in futility. He'll never reach it. Just as he's about to give up, a Jeep comes roaring up beside him. Elena's back! Thankfully she can't listen to instructions, and Drake jumps up on the running board of the passenger side, telling her to go after the plane. After a short sequence between the plane's landing gear (in which Drake seems to dictate the path of the Jeep), he leaps forward, barely snagging the front gear before it retracts. The plane banks away into the sky, leaving Elena far behind on the ground.
Once aboard, Drake kicks out a vent and starts prowling through the cargo area of this plane, which is laden with vehicles and armaments. Of course, the people onboard don't take very kindly to that, and it's not long before a fight breaks out. Hearkening back to Raiders of the Lost Ark again when Indy battles the giant, bald mechanic near the Flying Wing, Drake has to do battle with an oversized thug near the back of the plane as the cargo ramp opens up. Another reason to love Naughty Dog? Drake gets the snot pounded out of him in this sequence.
But, the hero usually prevails, and Drake proves that to be a truism as he downs his foe and hobbles towards the stacked cargo. Behind him, the goon gets to his feet, and Drake struggles with a parachute ripcord attached to the cargo, barely managing to pull it in time. Out tumbles the stacks of goods, taking the bad guy with them. Mission accomplished. Or is it? Now, everything has become dislodged inside the plane, and Drake struggles to dodge the rapidly ejecting cargo. That proves impossible, and he's knocked out of the plane, barely snagging the cargo net. Which also brings us to the edge of the cliff that Naughty Dog chose to leave us hanging from.
With this level, the cruise ship level, and the extremely impressive cinematic trailer that proves Uncharted should be a movie franchise, Naughty Dog keeps managing to surprise us with this game. What could possibly be next?