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Naughty Dog's coding pedigree is pretty much beyond compare, so when the company releases first video of its second generation PlayStation 3 title, it deserves some special coverage. We'll make no bones about it - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is probably my favourite game of this generation. The graphics, the gameplay, the technology, the script, the sense of wonder at every new corner - playing this through over Christmas 2008 remains one of a treasured gaming experience.
And despite the arrival of great-looking games like Gears of War 2 and Killzone 2, Uncharted remains a technical marvel that has still yet to be equalled. Until now. Based on the gameplay footage Naughty Dog released last week, the new sequel shows all the signs of being a true generational leap over its predecessor. Lighting has been dramatically improved with a more complex effects and global illumination system, the v-sync screen tear that was the only real issue with the first game is gone - an effort that really must have taken some programming effort (assuming of course, Naughty Dog hasn't got themselves one of these). And that's just the tip of the iceberg. For the full commentary, check out the video below.
We usually back our technical analyses with frame rate breakdowns, and despite only having compressed HD video to work with, our analysing tools worked with no problems on Sony's official video. If you're wondering why we didn't include it, it basically comes down to common sense: right now there's no gameplay experience at stake, and analysis of beta code isn't particularly useful, though it did inform one or two of our observations. The full range of optimisations may not have been included yet and debug code may still be running in the background which may inadvertantly affect gameplay performance. Plus of course, Naughty Dog only released a 30FPS video when we prefer to process the entire 60Hz output of the HDMI port. As it is, the game does appear to be very, very close indeed to a smooth 30FPS.
In short then? This is exciting stuff, a generational leap in video that comes at a time when Naughty Dog's competitors have still yet to match the technical accomplishments of its first PS3 title . Bearing in mind the length and breadth of both technical and gameplay marvels in the first game, we can only imagine just how good the sequel is going to be. Of course, we'll be covering it in some depth, but in the meantime we're not planning on leaving this series alone. Yes, we'll be covering the multiplayer beta as soon as we get our hands on it, but we'll also be going back to the original game, analysing its technology and hopefully convincing a few PS3 newcomers that - sequel or not - the original game is a 'must buy', especially now when a brand new copy is so cheap.