This post was originally written the day the NGP was announced and presented by Bryony. Unfortunately I’ve been swamped with work and was unable to fix her video embed and get a featured image together. For that, I apologize to all (especially to Bryony, who hasn’t beaten me up over it- look at the time she put into this thing!). Things are back to normal now around here, so look for more articles soon! -Chris Fullman
UNCHARTED fans; we really are being spoilt this year. Not only are we being treated to one new episode in the life and adventures of Nathan Drake, but three, (if you include the novel due out this year.) Three? Don’t I mean two? Well, no, because it has been recently announced that Sony will be launching the much expected PSP2 (sorry; NGP, or ‘Next Generation Portable’) within the year as well, and UNCHARTED has been announced as a launch title.
The NGP promises to be packed full of features and gadgets and gizmos that are already making my head hurt. The machine will now have dual analogue sticks, to bring it in line with the PS3, a touch screen, a camera on the front, and a camera on the back, and a nifty looking touch pad on the back. It is likely that there will be two versions; one that features Wi-Fi, and the other 3g. Presumably this will make one cheaper than the other. I won’t say ‘more affordable’ as no price details have yet been released, although I have seen guestimates anywhere from $200-$1000. My personal belief is that we are looking at around the $400 mark, or £250 for us UK dwellers. But all this remains to be seen.
Several titles have been announced as launch games; Resistance, Call of Duty, Little Big Planet, Metal Gear Solid, and our very own UNCHARTED. The first gameplay video (which is in reality simply showing off the tech) demonstrates some of the new controls well. We see Nathan (continually referred to in the video as “the character”) do what he does best; climb onto ledges, vault over logs, scale rock faces, swing over gaps, and dispatch a few enemies. On the surface, this is nothing new, except that now we have the option to guide him by putting our hands all over him. For example; vaulting logs and hopping onto higher ledges can now be achieved by rubbing Nate’s back; almost pushing him in the direction that you wish him to go; and similarly climbing up larger walls etc can be accomplished simply by tapping the screen, and telling Nate where you want him to go next.
I feel that some of these uses of the new controls seem somewhat gimmicky, and a little bit pointless. Who will bother taking their hand off the device, move it to the front and rub the screen when we know that up and x does the trick just as well? I for one won’t, but I will admit to being a little excited by the controls demonstrated by having Nate climb up and swing on a vine. To climb up the vine, the back touch pad comes into play. In the video we see the hands of the player moving on the back, as if he were climbing up the vine himself. Neat, eh? To swing on the vine, you simply swing the NGP back and forth and the internal gyro does the rest for you. This looks like pure fun to me, and no doubt I am going to seriously annoy Nathan, and possibly make him vomit by swinging him back and forth for the sheer joy. There is a part of me, however that is a little unsure; these controls are designed to make you feel like you are performing the actions, but a small section of my brain tells me that we aren’t actually Nate, and neither should we be. He is his own character, and he has been written that way. I don’t expect many people to share this nagging doubt, though.
But, I know you really want to know what the UNCHARTED NGP game is about! Well, that makes two of us, because I don’t know. And I don’t mean that I haven’t done my research, but that no details have been released yet. So anything is really just speculation. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do it, right? Several theories are being put forward, based on what we have. I think we can rule out the idea that this is a port of an existing UNCHARTED game, or a portable version of Drake’s Deception. The in-game Nate is wearing clothes similar to those worn in Among Thieves (and those worn in the Chateau demo in Drake’s Deception, but the landscape is jungle, as in Drake’s Fortune. But it isn’t any location seen in Drake’s Fortune; I have played it enough times to be sure that that exact location does not exist. I believe that we can rule out Drake’s Deception as well, as it wouldn’t make particularly good business sense to use an existing and readily available game as a launch title.
Soooo… there appear to be two other possibilities; that this is a new story; post Drake’s Deception, but I hope not, because anybody we see in UNCHARTED NGP promo bits survives Drake’s Deception (I HATE SPOILERS) or that it is a prequel of sorts. The first screenshot to be made available lends weight to this theory as Nathan looks younger, more like his fresh(er) faced Drake’s Fortune iteration. This would also mean that spoilers for later games would be kept to a minimum. There is much to be told in Nate’s backstory; how did he end up in a Panamanian jail? When did he break in to the museum in Turkey the first time around, and what went so terribly wrong? Why does Eddy still have it in for him? What happened to Rika when she sailed away from him? Why did he walk out on Chloe? What happened to his budding relationship with Elena after Victor Sullivan interrupted their first kiss? So many possibilities.
It should also be noted, though, that Naughty Dog are not the developers on this game, presumably as they are somewhat busy with Drake’s Deception. However, they will be overseeing the project to make sure that the gameplay etc is up to the usual standard expected from an UNCHARTED title. The game is actually being developed by Bend Studios, and we are sure that they will do a great job. What is unclear is the identity of the story/script writer. At this point we have no real need to fear the possible lack of canonicity, but will keep you informed on this point; I will personally be keeping a very close eye on this matter, as the issue is very important to me.
We’ll be scouring our sources for any other news as it comes in, and will be reporting upon it. We will be separating the speculation from the official nuggets, so you can be sure you will be kept up to date by following our coverage on this very exciting development in the UNCHARTED franchise.