A Moment of Brilliance


The following post concerns a cut-scene early on in Uncharted 3, containing character names and plot details from the opening third.

Messrs Drake, Sullivan and Cutter, joined by the delightful Chloe, are gathered around a table in a small loft apartment somewhere in London town. They are poring over a map and notebook, trying to decipher ancient riddles and find their way to a hidden city of riches – an Atlantis of the sands.

Their rough and ready appearance belies their intellect, with each dropping historical names without the need for explanation. Conversation moves from TE Lawrence to Queen Elizabeth and her court, including Nate’s presumed ancestor Sir Francis Drake and the mysterious occultist John Dee. However, the conversation slows at the mention of Dee, as Sully pleads ignorance and Cutter, a man who has already drawn groans for his referencing 007 and David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia at inopportune moments, revels in bringing him up to speed. Sully shoots a pained glance in Chloe's direction but the moment passes as quickly as it arrived.

They each continue to have small, playful digs at one another, with the exception of Drake who is thoroughly consumed by the prospect of a desert Atlantis. He is already a man on a mission, despite the protests of his companions that they are searching for a needle in a haystack. Drake brushes off their concerns, and continues to hold court, drawing their attention to a map laid out in front of them.

“You see these symbols here?” Drake points to the lettering that borders the map. “Yeah, it looks like Sabaean Script” replies Sully, beating Drake to the punch before he can get the words out. “Right” replies Drake, clearly impressed and slightly taken a-back that he didn't get to announce it to the room.

Sully maintains eye contact with Drake for the briefest of moments, just long enough to make sure he knows that the old dog can still surprise. Looking rather pleased with himself, he chomps back down on his trademark cigar and, without missing a beat or even turning his head, he pounds fists with Chloe, who doesn’t leave him hanging for even a second. Cutter briefly glances in their direction, while Drake continues with his story unperturbed. 

Although it is over in a flash, it shows the chemistry between the characters and makes them feel real - more than just generic adventurers 1-4 in another third person shooter. The looks, reactions and actions shared over this table come across as completely natural - real moments between real friends - and all achieved within the flow of the scene.

A seemingly insignificant exchange, this fist-bump is a microcosm of the details throughout Uncharted 3 that make it such an engrossing experience and allow it to succeed where other "cinematic" titles fall short. It is a game full of small, human touches that bring the characters and situations to life, whether its Drake running his hands along a cave wall, a lover's embrace that lingers for that extra second or the briefest of gags between two friends that you may not even pick-up on.

There are so many reasons to enjoy Uncharted 3, or any other game in the series, be it the likable characters, the fun combat and clambering, huge set-pieces or stunning visuals. But when it comes to standing out from the crowd, its all in the details, and once again Naughty Dog have shown that they understand this better than anyone else in the business.

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed some of the character moments in Uncharted 3 but in the end it does really come close to the action in Uncharted 2. The cruise ship had to be the most frustrating part of the game.

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  2. Hey Randy. Thanks for stopping by.

    I agree that the single player does fall short of Uncharted 2, but then it was always going to be tough to match what I think is one of the best games of all time. Still, not a bad attempt and definitely my favourite game of 2011 thus far.

    Despite the impressive spectacle, that cruise ship was murder. Too many sections where you were stuck in a bowl with enemies coming from every direction. It was a nightmare playing it on crushing.

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