We don't normally interview developers the day their game comes out. And to be fair, we didn't exactly speak to Naughty Dog just now - we've been sitting on this for a couple of weeks. But we did speak to them after we'd made up our minds and given Uncharted 2: Among Thieves a honking 10/10 review.
With that in mind, we focused on the decisions behind particular scenes, casting, and anecdotes about the game's development. There are some extremely minor spoilers beyond, but nothing you'll remember as you pelt through the game this weekend. So, if that sounds good to you, read on to see what lead multiplayer designer Justin Richmond and community manager Arne Meyer have to say for themselves.
Eurogamer: The story of Uncharted 2 is based on what might have happened during Marco Polo's journey home from China. Why did you pick that, and why settle on Shambhala as the game's big mystery?
Arne Meyer: The project is very collaborative. We do a lot of reading and watch a lot of movies and really try to see what sort of historical events can we use as a platform for our story, because our story, although fictional, is based on real-world events.
So we were brainstorming what sort of things we could use as a platform, and one of the things that came up was Marco Polo, because he kept incredibly detailed diaries and journals of his adventures in East Asia, and there was one particular area where he didn't document what was going on, and that was what happened to the ships on his journey back to Europe - he started with 13 and came back with one.
He never explained what happened, it's a great mystery and it just kind of resonated with us in terms of where we wanted to go next.
Eurogamer: Which other stories did you look at for Uncharted 2?
Justin Richmond: I don't think we can tell you because there's a good chance we might use some of them in the future.
Eurogamer: Uncharted 2 has lots of new characters, most notably Chloe Frazer. What's her background and what's the journey that she's on?
Justin Richmond: From the beginning we always wanted - I know Amy [Hennig, game director] wanted - Chloe to be a foil for showing not only what Drake could have been if was a little bit darker, but also to play off Elena, because Elena's the good girl that does the right thing all the time, and the more heroic version of what Drake could be.
But there was never that other side of Drake, which we really wanted to show in this game and it was important for Amy to show that this whole world of treasure hunters is a little seedy, and so we needed a character that was believable and funny, but a little bit darker than Drake and was going to push the boundaries on what was acceptable and what was not.
As far as what her actual backstory is: I'm not sure we can talk about that much.
Eurogamer: So Chloe was brought in to help show another side to Drake. Is that going to be a trend when introducing new characters - that they help shine a different light on our hero?
Arne Meyer: Well, this game was really important for us to really delve deeper into what Drake's personality is. And one of the best ways to do that is to show what kind of personal issues he has, how he acts on those and how he reacts to other people's independent personalities.
That's part of the reason the cast of characters grew, so that we could introduce people he couldn't trust at all, or people he has to trust implicitly like Temzin who doesn't speak English, so they have to trust each other. And then how he's like with old friends and how he's like with colleagues that he has a past with but he's not sure what the future holds.
Justin Richmond: I don't think there's a limit on what the cast can be. I think we'll grow in whichever way the story goes that we're telling; if it's 100 people then it's 100 people, but I don't think it's ever going to get that big, and I don't think we're ever going to limit ourselves based on that kind of thing. It's always going to be about the story that we're trying to tell and the number of people that we can tell it with.
Eurogamer: Another new character, Harry Flynn, also appears to have a colourful history with Drake. Can you shed some light on that?
Justin Richmond: The big thing that we revealed in this game was that Drake tried to break into this museum before and everybody else had gotten killed. Basically, with Flynn, we wanted to hint at what their relationship was but not give it away.
Arne Meyer: Really the point was - and it's the same thing with Chloe - that we're trying to explore the darker area of Drake and that he came up from this underworld and had clearly worked in this underworld. So it's who his colleagues were at that point, and that's really what his relationship [with Flynn] is: he had a relationship with these people at time when he was doing things that were a lot more evil than we know him as.
Justin Richmond: Flynn is what Drake would have been if he'd gone another way, right? Flynn is...
Arne Meyer: About greed, about the money.