GDC Preview: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

March 8, 2011 Written by Corey Schwanz

After winning scores of awards, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is considered by many to be the best game to come out in 2009. While it’s initially great news, it only puts incredible pressure on Naughty Dog to somehow surpass their previous work. How are they holding up?

Surprising everyone with an announcement late last year, fans have been scraping at any information for the next installment of Nathan Drake and his partners in crime. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception will take place all over the world and focus on the desert, be playable in stereoscopic 3D, follow the tracks of Lawrence of Arabia, and…that’s about it. Not many other concrete details have been given out at this point, leaving every scraping for news at every opportunity. Fortunately for us, in a closed-door, invitation-only room at the PlayStation Lounge in San Francisco, that time had come.

While Naughty Dog has previously talked about the revamped melee combat, expertly crafted and dynamic environments, and film-quality motion capture technology, this particular event was designed to show two things. First, bits and pieces of the story are finally being flushed out.

Enter Katherine Marlowe. British noblewoman looking to reclaim, what she believes, what is rightfully hers. But why would she be going after Drake, and what is her previous relationship with Sully? The first bits of their relationship has been divulged, only to be put together more and more over the coming year. As you can see in the video Marlowe has a certain affinity for Drake’s ring, which fans of the original Uncharted will recognize from the beginning of the first game. The man who originally had it, Sir Francis Drake, was once in the employ of the aristocratic Marlowe family. According to Katherine’s ill-formed logic, Sir Francis had stolen something from the family, be it the ring, money, information, or some other form of value, and the woman is now only to reclaimed what was rightfully hers in the first place.

Wonderful change of pace for the game to introduce a woman, not only an aged one, as the main antagonist for the game. No longer will the enemy be other treasure seekers or deranged warmongers, but the upper-crust of the highest society. It adds more character to her, as well as her subordinates. While the underlings still have military experience, they are now highly trained professionals working for a beautiful sum. Ex special forces soldiers motivated by money, as opposed to some misguided ideal to only be betrayed by their commanding officer. After this trailer, one can only wonder who else will be added to such a growing cast of characters?

But that wasn’t the only things shown off at this special meeting. Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells was on the premises to so how his team’s work. An extended version of the Chateau demo was shown, similar to the Jimmy Fallon footage shown live on his show, except from before the fire started, and in 3D. While there were several 3D skeptics in the room, all hesitant about one of their favorite franchises being tacked on with a gimmick, even stalwart opponents were wowed by the technology. Some of the best uses of 3D in gaming don’t necessarily pop out, but create a sense of depth and perspective within the game world. The demo started with Drake and Sully meandering around the home, sneaking around the guards. Uncharted has had the unique problem of making the game worlds a little too beautiful, making some of the platforming difficult. The 3D now aids in gauging such tasks, making maneuvering much more manageable. Also during the actual fire, the environment seems to come alive with 3D turned on. The smoldering embers from across the entire stage were surprisingly beautiful, being placed either in front of Drake and the action, or off in the distance.

Uncharted 3 has the unfortunate predicament of having the highest expectations of any game to come out in recent history. As long as Naughty Dog keeps the same level of discipline that created their last two games, Drake’s Deception is surely going to be a hit. Multiplayer wasn’t shown at this event, but they may be saving that just for E3 later this year. Until then, be sure to stay tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle for all your Uncharted needs.