Date: 2 November 2011
Venue: Studio Theatre, Sydney Opera House
What’s happening: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Australian Launch
Uncharted 3 is one of the most anticipated games of the year, so when Gameolio got an invitation to the launch we were there in God speed.
Uncharted 3 is about adventures and dramas, so holding the function at the Studio Theatre at Sydney Opera House is nothing but fit. We arrived at the venue around 20 minutes before the doors opened and the Sony crew were already there, having the area set up. We approached the registration desk and got our tags and were given a special key to open a chest Drake style to try our luck on a special gift.
Entertaining the crowd before the doors opened was a Snake Lady in Arabian costume, and two other actors dressed up Drake and Elena style. Although Uncharted 3 is about Nathan Drake, the Snake Lady had definitely stole the limelight at the door as everyone was taking her picture and trying to have a close encounter with the snake itself. This was of course accompanied with free drinks and mingling, although people were more eager about the doors opening.
The doors opened and we went in. Inside the Theatre, a huge ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ style stage was set up complete with massive screen displaying the games title in massive fonts. We took the front row seat and were served with popcorn and more drinks. The Theatre was filled with the anticipation of the audience.
Finally the light dimmed and Keith Guerrette, the lead designer of the game took stage in an ironed blue shirt and jeans. Rounds of applause were dished out and he certainly felt the enthusiasm of the audience. He welcomed the audience and thanked Australia for bringing him down under to showcase a project that is dear to his heart. He further talked about the development process of the Uncharted franchise and what they wanted to achieve with it. During the presentation, he reiterated again and again about how important story is in the Uncharted series and they adopted the approach of “build the story first put the gameplay in later” approach to ensure that nothing feels tacked on. He also addressed a few issues about the previous games, such as the combat system and stressed that they were trying to improve upon this with more precise motion capturing for in game and gameplay movements. During the presentation several behind the scene clips were shown, including the amount of research completed for the game before anything was built into the computer. However, the highlight of the presentation was when Keith jumped into the front row audience seat and played the game himself. He stressed that he was playing the game for the first time without a cheat code so ‘he’ may die in the process – and he did, twice – each accompanied by the loud applause from the audience. Another significant moment during the play demo was when the ‘First Treasure’ trophy showed up on the screen with the familiar “pling” sound. Everyone related to that and cheered.
There was a Q&A session after the presentation and enthusiastic hands were raised. One of the more interesting questions was asked on how they decide what trophies to be included in the game and why does Nathan Drake look so alarmingly similar to Nathan Fillion (of ‘Firefly’ and ‘Castle’ fame). After the Q&A the audience finally had a chance to get their hands on the game with all online, co-op and single campaign modes. However, at this stage little did we know that we were in for two more treats straight from the Sony crew – hands on with the PS Vita version of Uncharted and hands on with the Sony Personal 3D viewer with Uncharted 3.
Little introduction is needed for PS Vita, as nearly everyone knows that it is Sony’s next-gen portable gaming system. The PS Vita looks a bit chunkier than the current PSP but feels surprisingly lighter. Although it was a bit awkward to have front and back screens that are “touch” sensitive, the Uncharted game made good use of them. One of the puzzles tried was that we needed to scribe patterns from stone ruins and then put them back together to unlock the clue. The graphics capability of Vita was impressive and it looked on par with the PS3. We cannot show you a picture of the machine because it was the only workable prototype available in the southern hemisphere. So the Sony crew was very protective about any unofficial images going out.
The Sony Personal 3D View is like a bike helmet complete with 3D goggles and stereo headphones. You can connect it directly to your PS3 and play games without the TV. The graphics output was outstanding and the stereo sound was good. However, the helmet is a bit on the heavy side for my liking and the price is steep – a whopping $799 when it launches in US later this year. How successful this impressive device would be is still unknown.
Oh, about the key we got at the registration desk. It was a key to open a chest that unlocks the super uber special limited edition of the game, which was in another chest. We didn’t win but it was still a good night – at least we left with Keith’s autographed poster for the game – and lots of good food and alcohol. The review of the game will be up shortly. But for now it’s time for bed and maybe more gaming. Davesto out.