Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Uncharted: Upon further review

I'm quite enjoying Uncharted. I'm a little sad that I mostly fight humans and that I never feel very smart for solving puzzles because inevitably I bump into more humans guarding the areas I figured only I would be clever enough to find. Then again, I'm not sure how the fiction would work if I found myself in ancient crypts surrounded by undead with ready caches of bullets and guns.

It seems that the folks at Naughty Dog are doing their best to keep things varied under these constraints. I recently discovered the sniper rifle and my human enemies are becoming much tougher and have cool laser sights and such.

Really, the combat and puzzle solving isn't any better than, say, Tomb Raider or Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. But the story telling techniques used in the game are quite well done. I actually care about the characters. And, even though the plot seems to be a somewhat recycled version of Hudson Hawk (which I say in a good way -- I am one of the 5 people who loved that movie), the production values put into the game shine through in a way that I haven't experienced to date.

It's really worth going on the "Technical Dives" that are offered as unlockable extras where the developers go into how the cinematics were created. A couple of things worthy of notice:

  • Cut scenes are filmed in one take with minimal props and standard mocap equipment. It's kind of like watching a play.
  • Final rendered sequences then digitally edit the scene together with standard 2-shot and other film conventions to make it feel like it was actually shot like a movie (with multiple takes from different angles). It was a total "eureka" moment for me: Because the actor data were captured via mo-cap, the scene could be rendered in 3-d and cameras could be placed anywhere after the fact in post production. Very cool. This means that the cost of filming all the live actor data had to be minimal -- no moving of equipment... Just shoot it all in one take if possible.
I have a feeling I'm getting close to the end. The game seems to be foreshadowing some unholy enemy goodness, so I imagine it's going to start getting even more intense.

No comments: