Four minutes ago I was playing Uncharted 3. Now, I'm pretty worried. I mean, HOW THE HELL'S HE GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS ONE? Because (and I feel I can tell you this with only the teensiest of ***SPOILER WARNINGS***) the last time I saw Nathan Drake he was falling out of a plane. With no parachute. Yeah, I know. How the hell's he going to get out of this one?
There were precisely two chunks of gameplay on offer in the preview code I played. Not even full levels, by the looks of them. They'll be familiar to anyone who's played the Uncharted 3
beta, too – the château and a cargo plane. As well as having been in that multiplayer beta together, the levels have something else in common. They're right (in a Yorkshire way) cinematic. I threw a bit of Yorkshire talk in there to offset some of the douchiness and cliché of using the word 'cinematic'. I know, it's been done to death. Sometimes, though, it's just appropriate.
In the château level I was chucked into the stage on an upper floor along with Sully and a need to get out. For those who haven't played the beta, it's a broken down and very sun-dappled hulk of faded grandeur somewhere out in a jungle. Charged with getting across a huge great drop by way of a chandelier, I was immediately pleased at how quickly the Uncharted
controls came back to me. It's a sign of a straightforward, well-designed control system if it instinctively comes back to you without any abuse of your grey matter.
Navigating the handholds and dangling chandelier was classic Uncharted
climbing. It works more or less as you'd expect it to but (in this case at least) bits just kept on falling off in Drake's hands. This could have lead to many unwarranted and unfair deaths, but instead you were allowed to recover. It did, however, add a certain degree of tension and the sense that at any moment scripted disaster could strike.
In fact, it got almost daft how many times Drake stumbled and fell but, to Naughty Dog's credit, there was always the sense that it was driving the game forward. This was no stroll in the park for Drake and he feels more human and fallible than he has before. Like that other famous treasure hunter (but maybe drunk). Best of all – and this applied across both levels – all his movements were very natural and tailored to his specific situation without being automated and out of my control. If, for example, Drake was clambering up a fallen piece of ceiling, he was actually clambering
in a believable way.
As the château was set on fire and began to collapse around me, there was a noticeable sense of tension. The presence of Sully, who's no spring chicken and seemed like he could easily die, heightened that. The guys shooting at me did, too. It was a very fraught sequence. Mechanically speaking, it was a bunch of climbing and a bit of navigation. Looking back, I'm not sure I was really in much danger of catching fire, but in the heat of the moment (no, I'm not sorry) with the bullets whizzing past, the building being a collapsing inferno blocking exits at every turn and Drake's constant, very human stumbling, it was a great set piece.