Not only do developer Naughty Dog seem to have perfected the art of making dramatic action blockbuster games - they've also become experts at working the anticipation for these games into a sort of frenzied, bug-eyed lust.
The foreplay for Uncharted 3 has been masterful - a big focus on the heavily renovated multiplayer side of the game, with new levels teased at press events and the public muscling in on the beta. Scant, flirty glimpses have promised an epic single-player campaign, with the technological oomph of the woozy boat level at E3 getting augmented by the balls-out brilliance of the on-stage demonstration from Gamecom.
THE DRAKE IS A LIE
We were sitting near the stage during Sony's press conference for that last major showing, and the crowd's reaction was a charged buzz that increased to a crescendo of head-shaking disbelief. In a presentation also featuring headline price-drops and the longest look yet at PlayStation Vita, nothing came close to the intense desire and admiration for Uncharted 3.
And tellingly, Naughty Dog's Arne Meyer - the man holding the pad and controlling Drake - didn't say a single word throughout. The game spoke for itself - the scene between Drake and Elena, before the action, underlying the quality of Uncharted's scripting and performances (real, believable emotion squeezed from Drake asking her not to come on his latest idiotic mission).
And then the action itself reminding the room, the internet, the world why Uncharted 3 is considered the most spectacular action game of forever; Drake leaping from a Jeep tearing fullspeed down a runway to the wheels of a plane approaching takeoff, the camera swooping up and away as the plane tilts skywards and our hero is tucked into the plane's carriage.
DRAKES ON A PLANE
Unbelievably, that wasn't the end - the quick-time fight scene that followed, taking place on the plane's open cargo door, was a perfect illustration of the game's ability to mesh hands-on action with big set-piece excitement. From start to finish the whole thing showed a hungry drive towards technical improvement.
It looks incredible, the aerial shots of Drake clinging onto the trailing cargo as it hangs precariously from the plane joining the fire effects of the blazing mansion and the tilt and flow of the boat sequence as brand new landmarks in wow.
The one downside is that so far we've only been able to spend serious time playing the multiplayer, while that incredible-looking story mode is mostly eyes-only for now. The silver lining being that the multiplayer seems pretty special too. The latest maps we've played are High Rise - a slightly tweaked version of the Uncharted 2 DLC level; a tight pile of roofs and really nasty drops - and Desert Village; a sandy set of ruins packed with low walls and dusty banks.
While the movement feels smoother and the animations are clearly improved - Drake even walks more realistically, balancing as he turns to look around - so much of the single-player campaign is built around one-off moments and set-pieces that we really won't know just how special it's going to be until nearer the game's November release. Still, we could have a pretty good guess...
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