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Hands-on: Uncharted

What happens when you mix one part Gears of War, one part Tomb Raider, and one part Prince of Persia? You get one potentially awesome game. We really want to like Naughty Dog's upcoming PS3 exclusive, Uncharted, but technical issues seriously hindered our enjoyment of the title.

If there's one thing everyone has been talking about with Uncharted, it's the complex animation system. Thousands of animations are blended together in real-time to create a visually complex world that feels alive. Drake responds to his surroundings: you'll see him look at points of interest, struggling to keep his footing, and more. In one heated gunfight, we had him take cover fire and could see the worried look on his face as he breathed heavily The animation system helps make Drake not only a more believable character, but one we can relate to.

Drake is supposed to be a normal guy in an extraordinary situation, and the platforming sequences deliver upon the feeling of overcoming overwhelming obstacles. Drake will have to climb along rocky ledges, or jump from a shaky pillar to the next. Seeing what Drake can interact with the environment is intuitive due to Drake's focus on where he must go next. By observing what Drake wants to do, players will be able to navigate tricky areas with relative ease. Swinging from a rope and jumping to a ledge feels intuitive and empowering. We love the feeling we get when exploring the environment.

Gallery: Uncharted

We have no qualms about the platforming aspects of the game. However, combat proved to be difficult, due to its rather cumbersome controls, and buggy performance. The game employs a cover system, not unlike that found in Gears of War. For example, Drake can hide behind a wall, peek out and fire a few rounds. Then, he can run forward and take cover behind a rock. However, we found ourselves having a lot of difficulty "sticking" to the appropriate cover, in the direction we wanted to. Gears of War features an elegant control mechanism, where all actions are performed through the context-sensitive A button. Uncharted uses multiple buttons on the controller for the same actions, which is certainly disorienting.

In addition, we found ourselves constantly clipping through walls and other objects. We tried to take cover behind a wall, and as we rolled out, we found ourselves stuck inside a barrel. Then, we had to fight the camera, which had also become fixated on the wall. We were lucky to have somehow escaped before an enemy threw a grenade in our direction.

The camera simply doesn't feel intelligent enough: we were struggling to keep it in check at all times. It's too bad that uncomfortable controls, glitches, and a finicky camera are getting in the way of a potentially excellent game. We were impressed by the enemy AI: they take cover, try to flank you, and perform melee attacks when close.

If any game needs to be delayed, it has to be Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. We're confident that the team at Naughty Dog can make a stellar game, and we doubt they'll rush Uncharted just to make its November release. Considering how many other high-profile games are arriving on PS3 (and other consoles) later this year, we'd love to see Naughty Dog take the time to really iron out the bugs and refine the controls -- if they do, Uncharted can easily be one of the best games on the platform.

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Reader Comments

(Page 1)

1. Wow. I never thought I'd actually 'want' a game to be delayed...but the problems pointed out certainly have to be fixed. But should it take THAT long?

Posted at 2:27PM on Jul 16th 2007 by Justin

2. I would say "yes" because Sony needs as many AAA titles as they can and not fixing bugs or deliver a rushed product will result in "A" game which is not something that will entice people to get a PS3. Ass Creed also had problems/glitches too. Like when he jumped into pile of hay and no bystanders noticed it, coming out of the haystack as well.

Posted at 2:36PM on Jul 16th 2007 by shase

3. lol @ ass creed

but yea...i heard about those bugs too...and those were on the 360 build i hear...so i wonder if that will be pushed back also.

Pushing a game back is bad...but releasing a buggy game is worse.

Posted at 2:47PM on Jul 16th 2007 by Justin

4. Yeah take your time guys, don't pull an EA and deliver a half-assed product just to make your sales expectations for the quarter.

Posted at 2:51PM on Jul 16th 2007 by Popfrogs

5. Sounds like it's all fixable, so it's all good. Whenever this one comes out I'll be buying it.

Posted at 2:58PM on Jul 16th 2007 by mccomber

6. I heard of a few problems, but I'm expecting this to be GotY, without a doubt. I don't want the game to be anything liked Gears because it sucked badly IMO, and NDI certainly makes better games than that.

Posted at 3:12PM on Jul 16th 2007 by ManaKnight

7. Please just take your time.. I hate delays, but this game really looks too good to be put to waste by sh***y controls and other bugs. It would be a shame if this game doesn't turn out as cool as looks in the trailers.

Posted at 3:25PM on Jul 16th 2007 by never$$hort

8. This game looks really great. I am confused why they would use different buttons for the same action.

I am really looking forward to this game and if done right it could be a system seller.

I was just thinking about something. Sony has the most variety of games between all the consoles. They have sports games and action games and shooters and singing games and racing games and lots more that I forgot about.

Posted at 3:41PM on Jul 16th 2007 by Andy

9. As much as Uncharted's animation system has been praised, I can't help but feel that Drake's running animation looks overly stiff.

Now that protagonist in Shadow of the Colossus had some realistic and fluid animations - sissy running and tripping over his own feet while jumping and all.

Posted at 4:53PM on Jul 16th 2007 by upz

10. I hate that the cover system is now always called 'Gears of War' cover. KillSwitch did it in exactly the same way and heck of a lot earlier too. BTW, one button for everthing sucks ass -- Running, Jumping and cover should have thier own buttons.

Posted at 5:00PM on Jul 16th 2007 by Aysir

11. Andrew, please remember that this game still has 3 to 4 months left before it's released - most (if not all) of these issues should be able to be addressed before then. =o Man, your previews sound so much like reviews when it comes to the big titles... give these games some benefit of the doubt or at least expound on what you don't like (eg: player controls) and make the admission of what the release date for a game is.

=o I am being disheartened by your expectations for the big titles while they are still in development. o=

Posted at 8:06PM on Jul 16th 2007 by Consolcwby

12. Why do you give all the hands-on reviews to Andrew?

Posted at 6:46AM on Jul 17th 2007 by Naaiif

13. I hear ya on Killswitch being the first with that cover system. Is this game REALLY going to be that good? Maybe I'm missing something, but before E3 this one seemed to not be that big of a deal. The Xbox network, I mean G4 said that this was the best game of E3. It didn't LOOK that great, maybe the story and gameplay can make it compete. FYI they said COD 4 was the 360 game of the show, and MAN is it awesome looking. I honestly can't see anything getting game of the year but H3 or GTA (if it makes a release this year) based on buzz alone. I'm not a graphics whore, but is this game worth all the hype? Someone fill me in...

Posted at 7:38AM on Jul 17th 2007 by Titty Pink

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