Uncharted 3 airport gameplay - Dissected
31st Aug 2011 | 13:44
Remember the train wreck section from Uncharted 2? Well now forget it like a cheating ex-lover, because there's a new Uncharted epic in town and it's called 'That airport level what they showed at GamesCom'.
It's been a while since we've ogled Uncharted 3 from uncomfortably close range so we thought we'd give Naughty Dog's latest another going over.
We make it sound like a considered decision but, in truth, we couldn't help ourselves, not when the developer showcased this stunning airport scene in Cologne.
While most of our Dissected pieces pick apart the finest of details from a game, this is more an exercise in pointing out just how vast number 3's airport level is. Mechanically, Uncharted hasn't made any huge sweeping changes of note since the original, it's just been getting, bigger, better and bulging with epic.
Naughty Dog lay its cards on the table at the beginning of Uncharted 2 with the aforementioned train scene. As you progressed from one precarious position the magnitude of the catastrophe you were playing on started to reveal itself. Then, just when you thought you were safe to take a breather, something else would give way opening up a whole new angle to the carnage and a new set of problems.
The gameplay segment showed off at GamesCom has all of that with a gun fight and a car section tacked on to the beginning. The most impressive bit is how most of it flows seamlessly from one gameplay type to the next with the only real cut separating play inside and outside the plane.
It all starts simply enough, with Nate and Elena sneaking onto a well-guarded airstrip. What's important though is Naughty Dog's placement of one of those Uncharted vista moments. Drake looks across the airport to see a hanger, a load of containers, the runway and of course the plane itself.
All very vast and pretty as usual but it's not just there for effect and, as the level pans out, you'll cover pretty much all of it.
After a Superman leap and a scuttle down some ladders, Nate and Elena are on the ground and at the gates of the airport. There's a bit of handholding and a tender moment as Drake leaves his lady behind throwing out some classic lines about losing her and a dangerous situation or something (you can see all the longing looks in the screenshots below).
Drake makes his way further into the airport and is instantly spotted like the amateur he is. Cue gunfire and some Jackie Chan scrambling from our man in an attempt to catch his plane as it starts to crawl away.
This is where the design smarts of this level start to unfold. Drake starts off very closed in but, thanks to the layout of the environment, the player can take advantage of the hero's mobility in one of the most effective ways we've seen in the series.
Hoisting himself up onto the containers, Drake takes advantage of the multiple levels available to him until he makes his way on to a building roof. The map is as big up and down as it is wide and there's been no scrimping on the detail either.
We get a trademark cinematic flourish from Naughty Dog as one route is closed off with an explosion and tumbling objects. As we saw in number 2, the control is delightfully swiped out of the player's hands as Nate is knocked back and given back without anyone really noticing.
On the rooftop, we can see that our man's still solid with the melee moves (including the flying clothesline) and you might also want to note the KAL 7, a new AK47 style rifle that's been named for the first time. But it's how he gets down that impresses us.
Where most games would have nothing but hard, easy to render floor to jump onto, Nate throws himself into some bags and boxes which scatter perfectly on impact.
No time to blink, now we're dashing towards the plane as it picks up speed down the runway. Nate sprints after it trying to catch up to the front wheel, which is one of the most ridiculous endeavours we've ever seen but you have to admire his heart.
Good job there's still a woman around to actually get things done. Elena arrives in a jeep to save the day and the player dashes over and jumps on board.
Bam! Now we're in a car chase without relaxing our thumb from the analogue stick for even a second.
The way the jeep section pans out in this example leads us to believe the player actually takes control of Elena in the driving seat here. We've seen the section played through a couple of times now and the left and right commands that Drake shouts aren't the same so it looks like it's up to the player to line up the jeep before Drake jumps.
When he does we go seamlessly into a cutscene as the plane takes off. We're not exaggerating when we say we felt a little bit queasy as Elena's jeep becomes a dot on the ground.
Finally the game allows itself to break away before we play inside the plane but, already, we've experienced a massive hunk of in-game world and some incredibly varied gameplay all in one swift movement.
We start off the in-plane section with some tunnel crawling, something we haven't seen in Uncharted before if our memory serves us correctly, but Drake is once again found out as soon as someone with eyes is on the screen.
He ends up losing a fight to this chap and being at the wrong end of a ramp that shouldn't really be deployed mid-flight. Still, if you've seen any Hollywood film with a plane on it in the past 30 years you'll recognise it as a classic move for action adventure villains.
So the fight is taken precariously to the ramp where you're free to roam around (remembering that there's a bloke trying to kill you, of course). There are some nice touches here as well, with Drake reacting to the world around him in subtle ways.
We saw some of it in the burning mansion videos as Nate would rest his hand on a nearby wall or shield his eyes from debris. This time we think the poor boy's holding his face every now and then to ease the effects of a painful battering, but we also think he shields his eyes from the sun at one point, which we love.
A quick peek down, by the way, will give you a glimpse at that gorgeous sand Naughty Dog has put so much effort into this time.
The fight itself reminds us a little bit of the battle at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 (only a bit mind) and it seems that the player merely has to approach the brute a number of times to trigger a melee sequence that will ultimately fail. Still, it looks like a perfect blend between player control and cinematic goodness.
The key to winning the fight after knocking the giant down for a moment is back on board and with the pull of a level Drake gives his enemy a face full of cargo.
"Job done", you might think, but that's not the Uncharted way. Straight away we're thrown into another situation as massive boxes are now tumbling our way. If a player's good enough, they may be able to dodge them all but, from what we can tell, this section is programmed to catch you.
Drake is sent tumbling out the the plane himself only to make a last minute grab for a length of netting. Guess what? Things have been shaken up once more to replicate something close to that now has-been train in Uncharted 2.
The demo cuts out before we can see what happens next but, if we know Naughty Dog, it's going to be up to the player to clamber back up the trailing cargo and make their way back to the safety of the holding deck. Who knows what will happen once they're back inside?
We're worn out already.