Details from Game Informer's article were few and far between, but as more unseen scans of the magazine are revealed, the information can be dissected.
The Naughty Dog folks are known as some of the most savvy programmers and technicians in the industry - and this hit home with Game Informer after they spent some time with Uncharted.
As already reported, Naughty Dog are sporting a complex animation system that governs movement and combat, and Drake will have around 3000 animations (200 for Jak on the ps2) to play with in when the game releases. One example of this is that every time Drake takes cover after shooting an enemy, minor variations will occur in his posture, hand position and expression, all adding to the realism of his character.
Naughty Dog are aiming for the illusion that you never see Drake do the same thing twice and this can be achieved by a very unique feature of their engine: of the hundreds of animations, many of them can be layered on top of one another. These moment to moment combinations are possible by farming them out to the PS3's SPUs, allowing Drake to display any number of poses, emotions, and movements all at once.
For instance, picture Drake sprinting across a wide-open area to reach cover. His running is combined with frantic dunking and dodging as bullets begin to fly from a near cliff face, He's been running for a long-time so his frame is visibly shaking from hard breathing. Simultaneously he's frantically reloading his rifle so he can fire back. To top this off, his face wears a combined expression of fear and determination.
On top of the characters' clothing and faces, Naughty Dog have overlaid a wrinkle map that might best be described as a reactionary texture to the shifts in the normal map that lies beneath it. In essence, as the joints in the face or body move into new positions, the wrinkle map responds to create startling realism in both flesh and cloth.
To avoid the uncanny valley, the game artists have made the decision to make the game just out of photorealism, but enough in to be emotion laden for that cinematic feel.
All character models and environments are modeled from scratch and not from scanning, to allow for complete artistic freedom in their creation. An array of complex shaders dictate the way light interacts with objects, including some amazing sub-surface lighting, such as the diffused light of a torch behind the skin of a hand, or sunshine shining both through and around a thin leaf on a tree.
With the power of the PS3, the team can create moveable joints on objects like tree-branches, so that wind shakes them individually, casting shadows on the ground.
Furthermore, with the aid of HDR lighting, your character's eye must adjust to drastic shifts in brightness. This means that if you make Drake stare at the sun for several seconds and then turn down and look into a cave, your ability as a player to see clearly will emulate his iris' dilation into the darker environment.
All these tricks combined, create a world that appears almost soft to the touch - from the hair and clothes of Drake, to the refracted appearance of the ground beneath a spinning pool of water.