Uncharted: Drake's Fortune • Page 2

Playtime with Naughty Dog's new puppy.

Howdy, cowboy

The gunfighting is also pretty straightforward, and Hennig says this is deliberate. "Most games have a very tactical style of gunplay, there's a lot of precision. When you look at the movies we draw our inspiration from the hero is not a super-soldier. He can get into a panic, he can get overwhelmed, he's overmanned and outgunned. We wanted the gunplay to have a Wild West feel rather than a military feel."

It's not all about running and gunning. You'll still need to make good use of cover if you want to survive for very long. This doesn't mean crouching down and waiting for enemies to come to you, however. You'll need to keep moving, dashing across open clearings and dive-rolling from one cover position to another.

And while all that's going on, you'll need to keep an eye out for snipers; they can kill you with one shot. This isn't as unforgiving as it might sound, because you can see the lasers on their scope as they track you. This gives you a couple of seconds to either move into safety or take them out. It's still tricky, mind.

Hennig explains that gunplay and combat are two "key pillars" of Uncharted, but this is still a Naughty Dog game and an action-adventure game. So the third pillar, and a hugely important one, is exploration. "One of the most inspiring things about this genre is the urge to explore, which I think we all share. It's a human urge," she observes.

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The new Eurogamer offices. We're getting a pool table put in and everything.

During the demo we see three of the environments you get to run around. There's the interior of a fort, beautifully lit with blue-green tones and complete with spectacular water effects. Next up is an open area where you're surrounded by moss-covered ruins - Lara would feel right at home. And finally a monks' library, where you must solve a puzzle by turning statues in different directions.

Before you can get cracking on the puzzle, you need to deal with a load of gentlemen firing guns at your head. In fact, after we've played through each one a couple of times, a pattern emerges. You start off by taking out the snipers, then the enemies on the ground, and then you can do the puzzle-solving. We ask Hennig if this is how all the levels in the game play out.

"No, that's such a small sample," she replies. "There is an aspect of that as you can't very well solve a puzzle while someone's shooting at you. You need to clear the area then deal with the problem at hand."

The enemies are clever buggers, at least when they're at a distance. They take cover convincingly, observing your movements and changing their strategy. But walk straight up to them and they don't always know how to react, leaving you free to punch their heads in. They're also a bit deaf, so it's easy to creep up on them. A few are visually impaired and won't turn around if you walk straight past them. Still, this is pre-beta code, so there's time to iron out the niggles.

Hourly rate

Time could be an issue in a different context, however. Another journalist in our interview session asks how many hours of gameplay Uncharted offers. "It's hard to estimate. It depends on the player and how they play," Hennig replies. "I think we're looking at something like a 10-hour experience, but it's such a subjective thing."

Just recently, Heavenly Sword fell under heavy fire for lasting around 6 to 8 hours. There's a growing debate about game length, with many questions being raised about value for money and next-gen expectations. So what does Hennig think?

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'So when it comes to sun and fun and goodness in the jungle, they all prefer the sunny funny one they call...'

"I don't know what we should do these days. People go out and buy DVDs of two-hour movies, and it's over. You've got something five times that long... It's not a bad price for the value, I think.

"It's getting harder and harder to make these games, there's a lot that goes into it," she continues. "We have to worry about how his eyes refract light the way Pixar does, but it still has to be interactive and run in real time. Sometimes that density of detail means you can only do so much. But I think if the experience is compelling enough, that's okay."

She's got a point. Just the other day we reviewed a game that can be completed in under an hour, and we gave it 9 out of 10. Mind you, that game costs GBP 4.25, not GBP 42.50. Uncharted is bound to take flack from those who like their adventures long lasting.

Let's just hope any such flack doesn't completely overshadow what Naughty Dog achieves with Uncharted. They're clearly working hard to push the action-adventure genre forward, and to make the most of what the PS3 has to offer. The question is whether this game has that Naughty Dog magic, or whether it has been left behind along with the fantasy elements and the cartoon visuals of previous games. Only one thing is clear: it is a bit like Tomb Raider.

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