Following our interview with Sony's Sam Thompson, we were escorted to a PlayStation 3 kiosk running the latest demo of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. While it was technically the same one that was shown at E3 last month, this version had undergone significant tweaking and updating resulting in a much more polished feeling product.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the controller is how visually striking the game is. There are few games out there that look as lush and vibrant as Uncharted with its heavy foliage, beautiful water, and fantastic environmental textures. Considering 'next-gen games' are so often brown, drab and depressing looking, it's refreshing to play a game as colorful as this.
Control problems and camera issues were two of the biggest complaints Andrew Yoon had when he played Uncharted at E3 and thankfully we can report that those problems have already largely been fixed. The camera felt smooth and intelligent and was never a hassle in combat or exploration. The control issues during combat appear to have also been fixed, with the targeting system getting a major overhaul and the cover system getting tightened up as well. Shooting guys in the head and running from pillar to pillar to avoid enemy fire seemed easy and intuitive. Anybody who's played a third-person shooter will be able to get into the action quickly.
Worries of this being 'Tomb Raider with a wang' are pretty much without merit. While Uncharted will have some puzzle solving, it's main focus will be combat and platforming -- while Tomb Raider has historically focused heavily on puzzles with limited combat. The story in Uncharted also looks to set itself apart, with a script worthy of Hollywood and great voice actors playing the main characters. The storyline was already looking pretty intriguing from the little we saw of it; a fast paced romp through an island filled with pirates, treasure, and mystery. Honestly other than the 'treasure hunter' aspect of the game, it did not remind us of Tomb Raider at all.
Overall, Uncharted was one of the most impressive titles on display at PAX. The combat and control issues that plagued the E3 build have been fixed already and with another eight weeks of tweaking scheduled, gameplay is shaping up very nicely. Visually, Uncharted looks better than anything on the PlayStation 3 right now and it will be a welcome addition to the videogame starved PS3 owners when it comes out. The only real downside is the 8-12 hour gameplay length. Luckily this looks like it could be one of those rare game like Gears of War where it actually is worthwhile to play through the singleplayer campaign again and again -- the action was that satisfying. Uncharted is definitely a title to look out for this holiday.