Nathan Drake is surrounded by flame, it pops and sputters, licking out of the television toward me.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception should be the winning argument for gaming in 3D. It is spectacular. In the moments of gameplay we watch while crowded in a second-floor meeting room at San Francisco's posh W Hotel, that extra visual dimension is put to good use. Holes in the wall of the conflagrant chateau drop away from the screen, showing distant enemies. The burning beams upon which Drake balances show a path deep into the room. When Drake momentarily loses his balance and his view sinks toward the fall, the room offers a nearly vertigo-inducing view of that drop.
This is 3D put to great use, not the 3D of movies like The Green Hornet, which seemed only to be there to get viewers to wear glasses and watch credits float in front of a movie screen.
But despite its good use, I'm not convinced this is something I want, let alone need.
I tell a PR person later that I'm not a fan of 3D. They start to make the counter arguments, saying that eye fatigue really isn't an issue, that 3D television prices could be dropping.
You don't understand, I say. It's not that 3D is too expensive (it is) or that my eyes may hurt after three or four hours of gaming (they might), it's that I just don't see the benefits.
Given a free 3D television and fatigue-resistant eyes, at the best I find 3D in action games, especially action games with shooting, to be distracting.
I want to turn it off, some part of my brain finds that extra level of processing and wonder, annoying, not entertaining.
Maybe I'm alone, but fortunately I won't have to play Uncharted 3 in 3D when it hits the Playstation 3 later this year. And that's a very good thing, because it looks like it has all of the potential to be a better game than its predecessor, a game that was easily the best title to hit 2009.
Before watching the visual fidelity of the game in 3D, developers showed us a new cut scene from the title. In it we're introduced to Katherine Marlowe, the game's new heavy.
"We are excited to introduce you to Katherine Marlowe, the head of a cabal, a conspiracy that stretches over 400 years, back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I," Richard Lemarchand, lead game designer at developer Naughty Dog, tells us.
Sir Francis Drake, we're told, was one of the cabal's agents.
Uncharted 3 finds Drake and buddy Victor Sullivan pitted against Marlowe in a struggle for Drake's ring.
"The long-contested fight for possession of the ring will propel Drake and Sully to the heart of the Arabian desert," Lemarchand said. "This will be a much more dangerous and insidious threat than Drake has ever faced before.
"Marlowe's tactics are more psychological."
The 3D gameplay we see a bit later still shows the brutal melee attacks, the fire from cover, the climbing and tactics that made the game's action moments so sublime.
With an amped-up version of the gameplay of 2009's Uncharted combined with what appears to be a more intricate plot, I can't see how Uncharted 3 could go wrong.