Uncharted 2

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HUBILUB:
I still love Drake as a character. Yeah, he lacks in the humanity, but he's so charming that I can't criticize him.

Why the fuck not? So he's charming; if you believe people who actually knew him, so was Saddam Hussein. If your standards are so low that you will simply overlook a person's drastic flaws because of a single appealing feature then I have one word for you: BIMBO. I bet you like Edward "creepy, emotionless, abusive, jerkass stalker" Cullen as well because "he's so GORGEOUS!"

Well, what do you know. I've been quoted by Yahtzee. Out of context, no less. And under the not so subtle implication that I'm a goddamned Sony fanboy, of all things.

First, let's set things straight. My full quote:

"I don't really see how Drake is any worse of a charismatic hero than Indiana Jones himself and, to be honest, given the two takes on the exact same story, I'd take Uncharted 2 before Indiana Jones 4 any day."

Okay, that feels much better.

Now, to Yahtzee's point:

Indiana "It Belongs In A Museum" Jones is motivated by the pursuit of academic knowledge. We get to see him in his downtime teaching college students and fending off jailbait, and he often seems quite reluctant to go on adventures. He has a troubled relationship with his dad. Most importantly, he only ever kills Nazis, who are basically the unbuttered popcorn of the villain world - you can have as much as you like and not feel guilty. Indiana Jones is a flawed, conscientious, beaten-down man who pushes himself onward to fight for something bigger than himself.

Oh, no, you didn't.

Indiana Jones is a tomb raider who happens to be given a day job as a teacher because he steals stuff for the museum. In the first movie he is accused of having stolen treasure from several places, which is then referenced in Uncharted 1 in the famous "You obviously haven't been in a Panamenian jail" line. Belloq constantly points this out throughout Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the theme is clearly stated to be "fortune and glory". Let me make this clear: Indiana Jones walks into the nazi camp to free Marion, Marion tells him the nazis have found what they were looking for and Indy actually gags her again and leaves.

Indiana Jones gags the girl he thought was dead seconds ago and leaves her hostage in a nazi camp so as not to blow his cover.

That is cold.

Then he refuses to blow up the ark and save the day not because "it belongs in a museum" (that line is from Last Crusade) but because he won't blow up a treasure to save the world. Belloq links his hesitation to his speech in the bar about how he and Indy are the same kind of person and Indy bails.

Indy gets reworked into a generally straight up guy with daddy issues in Last Crusade, but in Raiders he is every bit the thief and the indiscriminate killer Drake is. Heck, even in Last Crusade he blows up a ship and kills everybody on board (let me repeat that: kills everybody on board) to steal a treasure some dude dug up with all the legitimate paperwork in a legitimate dig. Then he takes this treasure illegally and gives it to the museum in his own university. For money.

In Nathan Drake's world, there is nothing bigger than himself. He is motivated (initially, at least) by the desire to gain lots of money for himself, to spend on hair gel and t-shirts. He demonstrates in the tutorial level alone the willingness to break into a museum, pull an innocent security guard off a ledge to his death, steal an exhibit and smash it on the floor looking for clues like an absolute buffoon. I mean, at least wait until it's on your kitchen counter.

Unlike Indiana Jones, who opens a hole into a tunnel inside a historic building by smashing it with a metal rod, turns over an ancient coffin throwing the ancient corpse inside into a sewer and floods an ancient indian temple. In Fate of Atlantis, however non-canonical it may be, Indiana Jones sinks an entire friggin' continent. A continent.

Look, I used to wear an Indiana Jones pin to class in school. I preordered Fate of Atlantis. I love the movies. I just think Yahtzee is not making a good point here. You don't like Drake or Indy because they're good guys, you like them despite the fact that they're bad guys, and then you feel so much better when they finally put the common good over their own and go reluctantly save the day. Uncharted 2 has as many of these moments as any Indiana Jones movie.

Indy wants to leave with Henry in Last Crusade, Henry is the one that has to convince him to go after the grail instead of just running away like a coward.

Drake could leave on the last bit of the game with both girls, but he feels compelled to go back and stop the bad guy for no self-gain whatsoever.

Indy gets into the Temple of Doom stuff because he's trying to steal some diamond, but he ends up saving all the kids because it's the right thing to do.

Drake drags Elena and his cameraman along into harm's way, but then refuses to leave the guy behind when Chloe asks him to.

Indy is conflicted between the quest for the ark and his feelings for Marion. He keeps choosing the ark until the very end.

Drake is similarly conflicted between following Chloe's greedy impulses and his feelings for Elena. He refuses to leave either woman behind several times in the story, however.

So yeah, Indiana Jones has a special spot in everybody's hearts because a) he has a good deal of childhood nostalgia working for him and b) he was there first (unless you count all the times Humphrey Bogart played the exact same character). But, seriously, as far as Indiana Jones derivatives go, Nathan Drake is high up there.

And, for the record, the fact that Uncharted is a PS3 exclusive does not impact my opinion at all. If you must know, I think Infamous is a pretty poor game with a bunch of very basic design errors. I think Mass Effect is a great game, if slightly less groundbreaking than promised early on. I think Dead Rising is the best use of next-gen tech so far. I think Resistance is a rather mediocre FPS, but Ratchet & Clank is lots of fun.

And I think Uncharted 2 is the best game in this console generation so far.

Because it is fun and well written and I care about what happens to the characters in it. Of course your mileage may vary, but I can provide very solid reasons for what I think.

And here's the thing, I'm as annoyed as anyone by having to join a massive group of fans (the mere word makes me feel like I need a shower) and the mainstream gaming press, but sometimes they are right. American Beauty was the best movie of its year when it won the Oscar and Uncharted deserved those ridiculously high scores. Sometimes it happens.

I couldn't agree any more with Yahtzee here. Drake is absolutely unlikeable, my biggest problem being that he murders non-Americans like a Nazi (but without the prosecute-y holocaust bullshit).

WAITWAITWAITWAITWAITWAITwait.

MW2 = Russia invades America /=/ original.

Just sayin'.

-EDIT-

whoa whoa whoa. First you say that you a video game shouldn't be a movie, and then you say that if Uncharted were a movie, it would be bad? How can you essentially say, "games and movies can't be compared" and then go and compare them? I expected more from you Yahtzee, really, I did.

Although, I will say I agree with your point. In fact, recently I played Uncharted 1 (haven't gotten to the sequel yet) and the whole time I was thinking "this is the cheesiest piece of bull shit I've ever seen," but for some reason it simply WORKS in video games.

It does bother me that they couldn't get a better storyline, it is annoying that the voice acting and writing is cheesy, and I can't stand the plot-holes and poor plot development at times (although, I've noticed that's part of the humor of the game too - the developers have poked fun at themselves in game for it). But put simply, no other game on the market attempts what Uncharted attempts, and even if there was one I'm forgetting at the moment, Uncharted does it in the best way.

Even the developers have mentioned that they weren't trying to make an original plot, but more take every famous (and not so famous) adventuring movie and turn it into their own game. At the end of the day, these things all add up to a very cheesy and wanton experience, or a masterfully simple, creative ride. For me, it's flaws are part of its charm. I'm not going to sit here and say that you're wrong Yahtzee. I'm gonna sit here and say you're right, and that's why I love this game.

Mimsofthedawg:
whoa whoa whoa. First you say that you a video game shouldn't be a movie, and then you say that if Uncharted were a movie, it would be bad? How can you essentially say, "games and movies can't be compared" and then go and compare them? I expected more from you Yahtzee, really, I did.

No, he said that games aren't movies, and that a way to test whether a character in a game is good would be if a movie staring them would be worth watching. It's a thought exercise.

A bit muddled, but no contradiction.

Arcane Azmadi:

HUBILUB:
I still love Drake as a character. Yeah, he lacks in the humanity, but he's so charming that I can't criticize him.

Why the fuck not? So he's charming; if you believe people who actually knew him, so was Saddam Hussein. If your standards are so low that you will simply overlook a person's drastic flaws because of a single appealing feature then I have one word for you: BIMBO. I bet you like Edward "creepy, emotionless, abusive, jerkass stalker" Cullen as well because "he's so GORGEOUS!"

Unsubtle troll is unsubtle.

Drake is funny and witty, hence my suspension of disbelief stays neatly in tact when he kills people, only because he is that fun. And you could also make the argument that Yahtzee takes Drake very much out of context, since Drake actually has love interests, something that shows humanity, and he cares for others, and he shows remorse for all that he's done in the end of the game. He is a charismatic person that can put on his serious face when it is needed. Bond is witty and serious, but does people rag on him? I don't think so, seeing as how Bond is one of the most popular movie-franchises ever.

Hope you enjoy your prohibition.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

Fronzel:

Mimsofthedawg:
whoa whoa whoa. First you say that you a video game shouldn't be a movie, and then you say that if Uncharted were a movie, it would be bad? How can you essentially say, "games and movies can't be compared" and then go and compare them? I expected more from you Yahtzee, really, I did.

No, he said that games aren't movies, and that a way to test whether a character in a game is good would be if a movie staring them would be worth watching. It's a thought exercise.

A bit muddled, but no contradiction.

Fair enough, but even if you were to tell me this, it isn't a bit muddled. This is very muddled.

Arcane Azmadi:

HUBILUB:
I still love Drake as a character. Yeah, he lacks in the humanity, but he's so charming that I can't criticize him.

Why the fuck not? So he's charming; if you believe people who actually knew him, so was Saddam Hussein. If your standards are so low that you will simply overlook a person's drastic flaws because of a single appealing feature then I have one word for you: BIMBO. I bet you like Edward "creepy, emotionless, abusive, jerkass stalker" Cullen as well because "he's so GORGEOUS!"

Never, ever ever in a million years insult anyone. ever. Just no, don't be a flaming asshole a second more, I, nay, we forbid it. You have made a poor decision to flame a person and an even poorer decision to flame a member of The Spanish Inquisition.

I'm just gonna bet that you never saw the Spanish Inquisition coming. (unless we have already been here before)

KDR_11k:
So how does that stack up with Lara Croft? I mean, we do see some parts of her private life but you still consider her evil.

When you went to Lara's house, what did you see exactly that made her human? All I saw was a ton of relics that she used as exercise equipment or platforms and a bunch of killing. Granted that killing and jumping about is fun but honestly, how does that give her any humanity?

Even when she does show an emotion it is anger or revenge until the later series. I think they managed to make her a bit more human in some of the later games since she actually showed regret and they let us in on her stock tragic past. I kinda liked her when I finally understood why she was a contemptible ice queen.

estro_pajo:
I see your point and in general I concur, but I can't say that I entirely agree.
I'd break it into to points - that about Drake and that about the game's story.

Uncharted 2 seriously lacks in the story department and I think that one of the reasons why so many people think otherwise is the very likeable persona of Drake.
While he's not this incredibly fleshed out character that you'd like to see as a movie protagonist, he manages to gain players sympathy.
I must say, despite all the faults this game has, I really like Nathan Drake. In a video game medium he's one of the best characters ever created.

You might disapprove, but please consider this: do the most well known video games icons have any personality? Mario? Gordon Freeman? Lara Croft? Some guy?
We know what those characters connote (ie Freeman=headcrab=crowbar=recently->gravity gun, Croft=tits etc) but they don't speak to us, literally and metaphorically. Drake for a change keeps a dialog with his audience going. He talks to us, comments on the events in the game, establishes a connection. This is something that Gordon Freeman could never do.

I generally like Uncharted 2, but not for its story (honestly there is none, just do a quick analysis of your goals in the game...) and actually not all that much for its repetitive and easy gameplay, but mostly for the non-stop chatterbox that is the main character. Though not all original and well characterised, he has a flavour of his own...

edit
Oh, and the killing thing again...
I'll be quick - even though it's not as well established as "film science" there is something as "video game science" and it's a humanistic subject. It deals with the theory of video games as a new medium, narration in it, the situation of the player etc etc and it has roots in theory of literature, anthropology, psychology and yadda yadda yadda... Anyway, many researchers agree that video game violence is not a real violence but only a way to express certain progression within a game that is also interesting to the player (something like Haneke's philosophy on violence a rebours). This could be used in a variety of ways which are not always known to game developers (they are yet to understand how important theory is to them - silly people ;)).
All in all it goes down to this - the outcome of character actions in a video game cannot be judged based on game mechanics. If violence is the core gameplay mechanic integral to experiencing a pleasure from the game it gets locked away in the "meta" level of its structure.
Ok, I went to far... I think though that you understand the basic idea.

Uncharted violence=unreal violence without consequences.

Actually, I don't think you went too far, I'm kinda interested in this right now. The issue at hand with this extra punctuation is precisely the approach various players have towards Drake. It is pretty obvious that characters like Gordon Freeman, Lara Croft, the Doom marine, practically all GTA protagonists, etc. cannot be directly translated to another medium (the TR movies took a lot of creative liberties with Lara), because we don't know them as complete individual people but as gamer-shells, in a way. They live in a world that we "imagine" to work like a realistic fictional world, even if the gameplay presented to us is obviously flawed. We suspend our disbelief and fill in the gaps ourselves. To illustrate: when thinking in-universe, Gordon of HL2 surely talks, his massive body count would affect his mental state (particularly because he's an untrained, unprepared civilian), and his overthrowing of the combine citadel probably doesn't happen in one uninterrupted day, without rest or sleep. However, agreeing that this would detract from the experience and wanting an artificial challenge, the gamer is free to ignore those inconsistencies. He's actually playing through an allegorical rendering of the original story, streamlined and adapted to the medium and pretending to be a real account of the events, but relying on our suspension of disbelief.

Of course, gaming isn't really a new hobby, and in 2009 some amount of deconstruction is expected (and welcome). The villain asking Drake "How many people have you killed today?" is much like Adrian Veidt saying "Do you take me for a comic supervillain? I've already put my plan in motion 40 minutes ago." It messes with established conventions.

The problem in Uncharted 2 is that it cannot decide whether it's a videogame or an evolved, deconstructed game that merges various media. The action is cinematic and allows the stunts we only ever saw in cutscenes, the characters have a well-developed dialogue, it has a similar structure and pacing to pulp-adventure blockbuster movies, etc. Then again, it features obviously artificial and gamey elements like senseless puzzles and enemy-spamming the player. It's hard to decide what it's trying to be, and that's why some people see Drake as an undefined, hypocritical character.

We all KNOW that an archaeologist like Lara would never want to cause that amount of damage IRL, but it's too much of a bother to play an authentic archaeology simulator. We all KNOW that Gordon isn't really a mute, tireless automaton, but I wouldn't have him any other way - he shouldn't talk; while playing, I want to be Gordon. We have showed time and again that we can disregard inconsistencies that would be harmful to the experience, but it's hard to turn a blind eye to the gamey parts of Uncharted 2 when the game INSISTS to be a cinematic experience.

estro_pajo:

I generally like Uncharted 2, but not for its story (honestly there is none, just do a quick analysis of your goals in the game...) and actually not all that much for its repetitive and easy gameplay, but mostly for the non-stop chatterbox that is the main character. Though not all original and well characterised, he has a flavour of his own...

I was gonna go all Aristotle's Poetics on your posts, but it is honestly too much, so I'll just restrict myself to this:

Yes, let's analyze your goals in the game.

1) In the prologue, Drake goes along with the plan to rob the museum reluctantly, and only because his, as Yahtzee put it, "academic interest" is piqued by the Marco Polo connection. He actually insists that nobody must die during the heist.

2) In the first act, Drake is on a revenge story, trying to get payback after being betrayed. It is actually Chloe who manipulates him into going after the treasure as a way to get even.

3) In the second act, Drake is reacting to the circumstances after being confronted with Elena. He is conflicted between his two lovers, and eventually chooses to go after Chloe, leaving Elena behind. Chloe refuses to accept his gesture and Drake gets shot.

4) Drake reunites with Elena and his quest becomes a heroic one to prevent the rise of an unstoppable army. The quiet little town in which he gets down time and you actually get to see him "feed the fishes", again, as Yahtzee put it, is burnt to the ground, but this time Drake chases the bad guys not for vengeance, but to prevent further damage.

5) As things escalate towards the final confrontation, Elena is hurt. New redefinition of goals. Drake saves Elena, but doesn't escape with either of the two love interests. Now a hero, he goes back to prevent the bad guy from gaining superpowers.

So, please, explain to me, how is this story the second best in any action game ever? Every single in-game goal has a story justification that is not only based on the mechanics of the plot, but also in the emotional links between the characters. It's a rather heavy hero's quest tale, but it is also a very well crafted one.

I mean, compare it to Batman: Arkham Asylum (a great game, my runner up for GOTY). Batman takes Joker to the asylum. Joker escapes, takes over. Gordon is kidnapped. Batman beats everybody up and rescues Gordon. Seriously, I'm trying, here, but every single thing Batman does in that game is to either open a door or prevent goo from being poured in the water supply or something equally mechanic and irrelevant. Batman is never scared, never angry and never changes his mind. Even in the scarecrow sequences it's all about him moving forward with stone-faced determination. It's a great game, but every character is one dimensional as they come. And it's not even sub par for the genre.

Seneschal:

The problem in Uncharted 2 is that it cannot decide whether it's a videogame or an evolved, deconstructed game that merges various media. The action is cinematic and allows the stunts we only ever saw in cutscenes, the characters have a well-developed dialogue, it has a similar structure and pacing to pulp-adventure blockbuster movies, etc. Then again, it features obviously artificial and gamey elements like senseless puzzles and enemy-spamming the player. It's hard to decide what it's trying to be, and that's why some people see Drake as an undefined, hypocritical character.

Okay, good point. Suspension of disbelief struggles when your enemy has an army and the main guy beats them all up single handedly.

Fair enough. That's good criticism.

To be fair, Uncharted 1 was much worse, with an endless army of shirt wearing mercenaries, at least until some squad of heavily armed mercs showed up. It felt ridiculous at times.

Uncharted 2 at least tries to explain that the main bad guy happens to be in charge of a PMC with the resources of a small army, which kind of explains why he has an actual small army, if not why Drake seems to be able to kill them all with a handgun and some chewing gum. The humanity of the character actually works against the game, in that we don't have any problem believing a heavily armoured space marine guy could do it, but a shirt wearing everyman is definitely a stretch.

I think if gaming wants to evolve beyond the absolutely shameful platform for braindead action heroes it is now it needs to solve this issue. Batman did it better, in that you faced a limited number of guys with limited equipment, although the explanation of how the Joker made them show up was flaky.

But come on, that is very minor criticism. What's more, it is the kind of criticism that only surfaces because the game challenges the conventions of the genre. Like I said, Gears of War is no less ludicrous in this aspect, but since its story is basically a flat line nobody gives a crap, like nobody gives a crap about where all the asteroids in Asteroids are coming from.

I could be alone in this argument, but everything uncharted 2 took from someone else was polished to mirrors shine. The game play is both better than gears of war and any tomb raider game. As for similarities between the game and Indiana Jones I really haven't seen any of those movies except for the kingdom of the crystal skull, but apparently that doesn't count. Honestly I don't see what I hope to achieve with this response. After all all I'm saying is my opinion and thoughts on the subject matter. Perhaps I'm looking for an argument, so I can feel angry about something because my life is so perfect in my nice comfy boring stress less would.

Noelveiga:

I was gonna go all Aristotle's Poetics on your posts

Well, fair enough, you could do this, but why would you? Video games are a very different medium that theatre or film are.

From our vantage point yes, the story in Uncharted 2 has arms and legs, but in mid-game it doesn't make any sense. Remember that the experience is filled with action and takes quite a few hours to complete, so the story that would normally serve well a 100min film gets lost somewhere in the middle of 12hrs non-stop shootfest.

All in all there is only one goal in this game - getting to Shambala. All is great until we realise that the sub-quests are not too well fleshed out. I tried to follow the story but nothing was happening - for the whole game I was getting capture and then running away (multiple times) and going to some obscure places to get clues how to get to even more obscure places while still the whole Shambala discovery was a very distant prospect.
Everything gets lost in the constant action in the midst of which we tend to forget what the hell is this little clue that we were looking for.

I'll make a quick reference here to Modern Warfare 2.
This game has (surprise surprise!) a story (and it's even interesting), but I had to look up this stuff online. In the course of the game so many things are happening so fast that I have no idea what's going on. It looks just like a bunch of random missions put together.
Eg the blizzard and heart sensor mission (early one, can't remember the name). That's a really cool mission, in the days of old it would be the stuff of legends - advancing through the blizzard with a suppressed, heart sensor mounted assault rifle, come on!!! But in MW2 the pacing is so fast that in 5-8mins (on veteran!) I was in some hangar, where the game instructed me to go upstairs to grab something and I don't know till this day what it was because I got there in 5sec flat and when I've grabbed it "Soap" said he's been spotted. So I ran to help him and then after like 2sec game told me to press a button. So I did and some stuff exploaded and then I was suddenly on a snowmobile and bam! the level was over.
What did just happened?
I'm saying now that this level is cool, but why haven't I realised this while I was playing it? The pacing left me no room to enjoy the game nor to understand what's going on. Maybe it was intentional, but it also ruins the whole story element of the game.

In Uncharted 2 all this little stuff, those sub-quests don't exist because they are to minor to acknowledge them and aim for the head at the same time.

Also I've liked Uncharted 1 much more. It had a clear sense of progression, while in U2 you fight same enemies throughout the game (some minor differences, yeah...). In U1 you start off with pirates and bums, then you have tougher pirates and THEN you have soldiers, which lets you know that the shit just got real. It makes you feel that it escalated, that something has changed. In U2 the environments are changing so often and the enemies in them are all the same so you have no feeling of progression at all. The narrative there sucks.

I've enjoyed the game, but I see that it suffers from the "sequel syndrome" - "Hey, let's do everything but like every explosion will be like 5 times bigger, every car chase will be like 4 times longer and instead of a car it will be an ATTACK CHOPPER". I think U2 outdid everything. Too much of everything is not better, it's just too much.

PS actually U2 is like Transformers 2 in a way. When those kids in T2 where in Egypt I've asked myself (and I have a university degree in film science so it's really hard to confuse me) "Ok, they're in Egypt, ok, but WHY?" and so I was thinking when Drake was in Nepal. It's not that the film or the game didn't state the purpose of the protagonists visit, but that in an action flick the viewer/gamer needs to be constantly aware of protagonists goals. It's called redundancy and it's being used in TV shows and films with fast-paced action where viewer can get distracted and lose some of the plot. This is necessary and a failure to make current objectives clear and compelling is a fault of the narration.

KDR_11k:
So how does that stack up with Lara Croft? I mean, we do see some parts of her private life but you still consider her evil.

Nathan Drake has no discernible reason or motivation of any kind for his horrid behavior. That left us with a broad spectrum of possibilities for the reasons of his actions.

What glimpses we saw of Lara Croft's life not only gave no good discernible reason or motivation for her horrid behavior, but also those glimpses gave lots of potential bad reasons: she was already rich enough to be living in a castle! At best her only motivation is simply to be richer. At worst she gets off on killing the poor people or archeologists who are about to collect artifacts before she can. The only spectrum for the reasons of her actions are all bad.

JC175:
Can't say I can really properly comment on this, as I haven't played the game or its predecessor. But I will say that making the main character a douchebag only works...wait, no, it never works.

Duke Nukem never seemed all that nice of a fellow to me. And Duke Nukem's are the first (and perhaps therefore) glorious shooting-based games I ever played. Especially the 3D. It's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I'm all out of gum.

Okay, word of warning, I'm gonna break it down with quotes. It's a wall of text as it is, with several different points, so I'm gonna need some reference. Just this once.

estro_pajo:

Well, fair enough, you could do this, but why would you? Video games are a very different medium that theatre or film are.

Which doesn't mean concepts like story structure don't apply. This annoys me. Obviously Tetris has no room for storytelling but any game that does, certainly needs to be evaluated as a storytelling medium. You mention Modern Warfare later (see? I'm saving myself a quote). That thing is a series of disconnected action missions vaguely tied together with a plot almost entirely relayed through voiceover. That is a stupid, stupid structure for a story. Why not call it "military simulator" and just have random missions if that's the point of the game?

But if you're gonna have a story, have a good one.

This point you make now is very interesting:

the experience is filled with action and takes quite a few hours to complete, so the story that would normally serve well a 100min film gets lost somewhere in the middle of 12hrs non-stop shootfest.

Hm.

This is actually not true. Sure, Uncharted 2 has gameplay in it, but I honestly don't see how having gameplay is an obstacle for having a story. If we were talking about Metal Gear, then fine. But not here. It doesn't help your position that the damn game is chock full of story. There isn't a single side quest in the game, other than the stupid treasure collection thing. Every single objective in the game is story-related. Final Fantasy can't say that. The game lasts, what? 15 hours? That's a TV series season, and I'd say that Uncharted has roughly as much plot as your typical action-based TV drama.

Also, this:

All in all there is only one goal in this game - getting to Shambala.

Is only as true as saying "in the Star Wars saga there is only one goal: beating the Sith". You can reduce every single story like that (in fact, good stories tend to be easier to summarize in a single sentence, writers tend to do that on purpose), but it doesn't mean that's all there is to it.

You say you lose track of the story in action games because of the pacing, but doesn't your typical good action movie use the same kind of pacing and proportion? How much time does, again, Indiana Jones spend running away from nazis? I could tell you. I broke down Last Crusade for a paper back in uni. Off the top of my head, just the last setpiece in Last Crusade, the tank fight? 9 minutes. No plot, just action. Did you lose track of the plot during that sequence as well?

Sure, long winded action can make the story harder to follow but, again, Uncharted 2 might be the game that suffers less from this in recent memory, and if effort to follow the plot of a story meant bad quality, The Sopranos would have been the worst TV series ever.

In U2 the environments are changing so often and the enemies in them are all the same so you have no feeling of progression at all. The narrative there sucks.

So changing the environments is not narrative, changing your partners through the game is not narrative, the cutscenes and the dialogue between characters do not count but the models they use for the enemies are now a narrative decission? I think you lost your train of thought there.

As with any other narrative, the progression comes from the pace of the plot. It starts as a lighthearted caper and it ends with saving the world. To exemplify, one line in the game that completely sold me that this was not only a matter that was escalating, but also higher stakes than in Uncharted 1 (something sequels often fail to convey) was Sully stopping after a mission and saying he was in over his head and was going to pull out.

Sure, that was a gameplay decission. A vestigial trace of what once was a fully co-op campaign, then reworked, but it also served a narrative purpose. This guy was with you all through the first one, but now he feels too old and too scared to move on. Immersion in the gameplay through the story. That is what I like here, that is why I think this is good videogame storytelling.

PS actually U2 is like Transformers 2 in a way. When those kids in T2 where in Egypt I've asked myself (and I have a university degree in film science so it's really hard to confuse me) "Ok, they're in Egypt, ok, but WHY?" and so I was thinking when Drake was in Nepal.

Yeah, that was not patronizing at all. I see your degree in film science and I raise you a masters in screenwriting, by the way. But I still don't see the connection. Transformers 2 is a mess of a movie that you are just name dropping here for the negative connotation. The truth is Transformers loses you because it has way too many characters, a lousy plot with no logical connection between story beats and cinematography so hectic that it becomes very difficult to actually make sense of what is happening on the screen. In Uncharted you handle the pace interactively, the plot actually flows quite nicely through character motivations reflected in their actions and the camerawork, let's admit it, is much better than in anything Michael Bay has ever directed.

You speak of redundancy as a tool in narrative, but that is easily abused or misused. How many times has a TV show felt stupid to you because the characters suddenly decide to tell each other what happened in the previous episode? How close were you of punching somebody in the face after hearing the word "fear" in Batman Begins for the millionth time? If the story is well structured and developed I'd much rather err on the side of too little redundancy.

But even accepting redundancy as a tool of the trade, I don't accept that Uncharted 2 is written in a way that does not allow players to follow the reasoning behind the overall goal and each of the obstacles in the plot. Oh, I accept that you got lost, I'll take your word for it, but I don't think the game is to blame. Anybody can miss stuff in a piece of narrative, much more so in a game, which lets you ignore or skip cutscenes, stop and restart often and makes you repeat some sections. I'm just stating here that I prefer a game that risks losing some people on a story built like a novel or a movie rather than a game that ensures everybody is following by repeating its plot points out loud every two minutes like a bad TV show.

The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was purposefully built to make people miss some stuff on first viewing. Its basic plot was simple: go rescue the girl, go kill the zombie pirates. The reasons why each character behaved in a specific way in a specific scene, however, were often given several scenes *after* the action had happened and they often related to events chronologically set before the movie plot even started. It was done like that both to encourage repeated viewing and to encourage discussion after the fact. I happen to think it was a good movie (then ruined by two bad sequels, but still), precisely because it refused to treat viewers like they were idiots. It managed to keep the ratio of action versus plot high by layering the plot thick in the plot scenes. It works.

Uncharted 1 and 2 do something similar. The straightforward story of Drake chasing a treasure is not too complicated, although it has a few twists... but it is built on top of a second story that Drake himself is trying to piece together, with the audience playing catch up: the story of the original Drake and Marco Polo. I like that. It is very clever. Rather than having a static object that Drake is following like, say, the Ark of the Covenant, Drake is retracing the steps of somebody else, trying to figure out what happened to them. I don't think it's accidental that in both games the skeletons of the adventurers Drake is following are actually in the game somewhere.

Look, I don't deny your (or Yahtzee's) right to not enjoying the game, or to not enjoying its plot. What I do deny is that the reasons you are bringing to the table are valid. Very often with art, the gut feeling comes before the reasoning: "I hated this movie. I wonder why". That means that your feelings towards it may be perfectly accurate, even based on something real in the product, but your analysis of the reasons may not be correct. Nobody knows anything and all that.

Likewise, it may feel pointless to defend rationally a product that has undeniably caused the gut rejection, just because rejection in art is a fact. If people hate what you created there's nothing you can do about it, and the goal of the analysis isn't justifying the work, it's figuring out why you failed so you can avoid it next time.

But Uncharted 2 hardly failed, did it? I'm pretty sure that you are defending the minority vote here, given the rave reviews and good sales the game got. When you're analyzing a successful product, it is also dangerous to ignore everybody else's gut feeling to blindly defend your own, much more so if you're a creative type yourself.

Qizma:

JC175:
Can't say I can really properly comment on this, as I haven't played the game or its predecessor. But I will say that making the main character a douchebag only works...wait, no, it never works.

Duke Nukem never seemed all that nice of a fellow to me. And Duke Nukem's are the first (and perhaps therefore) glorious shooting-based games I ever played. Especially the 3D. It's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I'm all out of gum.

There's a difference between being a badass and a douchebag though. Duke Nukem is a badass in my books.

Noelveiga:

So changing the environments is not narrative, changing your partners through the game is not narrative, the cutscenes and the dialogue between characters do not count but the models they use for the enemies are now a narrative decission?

I'll just use this one quote so you'd know I'm replying to your post.

It all is part of the narrative, true, but to me, when you have too much of it the whole experience gets lost in it. When you change environment every level after a short while you stop caring, it doesn't impact you when it needs to (like the last levels should). In U1 it was more clear and the sense of progression was played out by the environment and colours that went from lush green to dusty grey and brown with professional soldiers. In U2 you change your companion every level so it also numbs you to any further changes. Things like that should be well implemented and well played within a screenplay, the accents need to be in right places, because when they are off the audience can get lost or don't get involved with a plot.

Indiana Jones is a good example, but as I've mentioned earlier, Indy is a 100min film where the action sequence en route to hidden treasure takes 9mins, while in U2 it takes at least 40mins up to an hour after which the gamer is not at his destination but has to wonder somewhere, then somewhere else, then do some acrobatics etc etc. There is a goal somewhere in the distance, but it got blurry in the course of the game.
Additionally I think that the sub-quests (I call them that) lack the impact that would make them interesting. I just think they're weak. Like when Chloe gets on a train and we need to "rescue" her. Why? She's perfectly safe, at least to my knowledge... So it's a goal in the game but I don't understand the reason for it. I think that in a game like Uncharted 2 gamer should always be reminded where he's going and what it is that he's trying to achieve. After a few shootouts and couple acrobatic segments the weak goal doesn't seem important at all.
That's why I'm saying that the only goal here is to get to Shambala.
It's a bit like System Shock 2 (just a title that pops to my head when I think about something like this). You have a goal, say, get to laboratory that is at the end of the corridor. So you go there but the ceiling suddenly collapses and you have to find a way around which takes you a battling 2hrs. At the end, if you weren't reminded what is is that you wanted, you've forgot what were you doing.

Games are specific, they take a long time to complete, usually dialog is sparse in action games and often gamer can't aim for the head and listen to some chatter at the same time. A gamer gets all excited about the action on screen, much more than when he's watching a film, and sometimes he just does what a game tells him to do (like a sudden prompt to press R1 - you don't know what for but it seems that it's important). There could be more bits of dialog sprinkled here and there that would remind you how important is your current task, or the goals could be more compelling and the path towards achieving them could be more straight forward.

I've never said I didn't like Uncharted 2, because I did. I've enjoyed it a lot, but also I think that the story is really on the weak side of the spectrum (and doesn't work for an action video game) and what fools most of the gamers to thinking otherwise are well written dialogs and likeable characters. That was my point - that we like our protagonists (villain isn't that great) and we enjoy the witty, snotty dialog, but where's the story? Constant goose chase is not a story. Just because something works for a 100min blockbuster doesn't mean it will work for a 12hrs immersive experience.

estro_pajo:

I've enjoyed it a lot, but also I think that the story is really on the weak side of the spectrum (and doesn't work for an action video game) and what fools most of the gamers to thinking otherwise are well written dialogs and likeable characters. That was my point - that we like our protagonists (villain isn;t that great) and we enjoy the witty, snotty dialog, but where's the story? Constant goose chase is not a story. Just because something works for a 100min blockbuster doesn't mean it will work for a 12hrs immersive experience.

Look, I agree with most of what you posted. Games often go off in tangents and lose focus of what the immediate goal is and what the final objective is and how the two are connected to each other.

Fine, that happens. System Shock 2 or Modern Warfare are as good examples as any. I don't think that means game stories are necessarily bad or necessarily less important than movie stories, but I agree on the general point.

But I don't see how you project this into Uncharted 2, which seems to me to be a game designed with the specific purpose of avoiding this.

Look at all the stuff the game does to prevent this feeling: It starts in media res, effectively giving you an anchor point for what happens (the first half of the game you know it is all building up to Drake on a derailed train, shot on the stomach in a snowy background). It doesn't have side quests. You're never told to "go get the three sacred keys of the lost native tribe of Bucaramanga" or anything like that. There is an item, the dagger, and a place they want to find, Shambala. Any detour happens because of plot elements, not because of fetch quests or secondary characters. It all goes back to preventing players from losing track of the plot. And, at least with me, it worked. People report that they played it in one sitting or that they lost track of time playing it. I think it has a lot to do with this way to tell its story.

Which is just a solid action adventure story, by the way, but that doesn't make it "bad". It may be more straightforward than some others, but at least it has characters in it that want things. They have connections with each other that are emotional and go beyond "I like you", "I hate you" and "You have something I need", which seem to be the three mental states of game characters.

Sorry, but I don't see how the void that were the characters in Bioshock or Batman Arkham Asylum could support a better story than Uncharted, no matter what ammount of libertarian literature or high-brow graphic novel is paraphrased in them.

But, hey, you felt that way, I felt this way and we've both laid out our arguments about it. I do think you are forcing a commonly valid argument onto a game that doesn't fit with it too well, and I get the feeling that in the occassional backlash against Uncharted there is an element of the "it is too popular to be good" rationale that is frequent in art criticism.

in my opinion, uncharted 2 was good, it's just stealth went tits-up after the first level it was used

Funny, every single game Yahtzee mentioned that he believes has a unique storyline I found to be quite generic storyline wise. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy some of those games, but overall I found the situations and progression of story in those games incredibly typical. On top of this EVERY SINGLE GAME OUT THERE is a B rate storyline from some other media format be it book, movie, or comic. And its B rated because its told in the most retarded fashion because god forbid the player get bored because there's nothing to kill and rape on the screen. The most grandiose and original stories in my favorite games all have blatantly stolen elements from other stories. This really makes the entire article a moot point. Especially since a lot of those stolen plots are from B movies themselves (ie Running Man).

Its just really hard for me to take a comedian's word seriously on these matters. I know modern day society (at least in the United States) is hell bent on getting their news through a comedian but I still have higher standards. I watch and read Zero Punctuation every week for entertainment but as for actual opinions on video games, I'll go elsewhere. Occasionally he'll like a game I do and on those occasions I find myself congratulating him for having good taste for once.

Well I have to say usually I like and agree with most of the things Yahtzee Croshaw talks about in his reviews. I have to say I completely disagree with you on Uncharted 2.

Sure, Uncharted 1 was not that great (in fact it was very hard to play through for me and I stopped playing after a couple of hours -- combat was repetitive and not very fun). AI was too good of a shot and always knew exactly where you were. Overall pacing of the game was a bit flawed as well.

Now take Uncharted 2, combat is fun! The pacing of the game is spectacular! The game feels like I'm playing a Summer Action movie that never lets up! It's what Indiana Jones 4 should have been (I say this as a HUGE Indiana Jones fan that will only admit to 3 films in the series).

You complain about the fact that Drake has killed a bunch of guys yet seem to forget that it's a GAME and in a GAME it's fun to defeat opponents. I'm not sure Die Hard the Movie becoming a game and only have less than 12 terrorist would really work as your total number of enemies unless the game only lasted 3 hours and then no one would buy it due to reviews panning it for being a short game.

Further more if you really look at it, Uncharted 2 is basically a modern day version of God of War (yet some how you like God of War but not this?) I just don't get it. Okay sure the story is not deep, but then again most summer action films aren't either -- so what? As long as they're entertaining and exciting with likable characters and good acting/voice acting.

But I think that's where the rub is, Yahtzee Croshaw does not like Nathan Drake (I still don't think that bias is worth the panning you gave the game). I happen to like him and the game. I'm looking forward to getting the time to play a 2nd play through and felt it was one of the most action packed fun (well designed) and utterly beautiful games I've got to play in a long time -- I can't remember sweating as much playing a game as it.

Great dissection of the game character. Although, examine the protagonists in most games. I ask, are any of them actually likable, decent, rational human beings that you could relate to? Most of them are sociopaths or silent enigmatic super-soldiers. Even the seemingly most benign of game characters, Mario, fits this profile. Then again, Yahtzee has already pointed that out.

I'm going to have to disagree on some of the games cited as having unique storylines though. InFamous, Bionic Commando, and Prototype ESPECIALLY, since they all share essentially the same interchangeable story outline.
MadWorld is also un-unique in both the game world (Manhunt) and in general (Running Man).

Haven't played the game, but I gotta say I admire the fact that Yahtzee sticks to his guns on this. Every time I find something on this game I read nothing but 10/10's, good to see someone doesn't follow the crowd and has his own opinion.

Xiado:
Not to justify Uncharted 2, which was stupid, but not much originality in games this year, even among what you named

Borderlands: Wasteland space planet and lost treasure- not original
Modern Warfare 2: Creatively executed, but pretty much ripped off of Tom Clancy's works, I felt like I was playing Splinter Cell: Bullet Hose edition
Brooetal Legend: Rips off of pretty much everything in heavy metal
Batman: Arkham Asylum: Hasn't this thing been done in the comics, movies, and tv shows a million times already?
Darkest of Days: You got me, this was pretty original
Overlord 2: Same as the first game, so not really original
Infamous: Ripped off Prototype
Prototype: Ripped off Infamous
Bionic Commando: The name speaks for itself
Velvet Assassin: Kind of original, but loses points for being based on a real person
Madworld: Deathmatch tv show. I think Manhunt did something like this.

Sorry buddy, had to quote you.
You can't judge a game like that, otherwise EVERY game sounds uninteresting.
Otherwise:
Bioshock: Underwater, not original
System Shock 2: Oh it's set in space, not original.

See the problem there?

Batman: Arkham Asylum: Though I have a personal problem with the game. To say it's unoriginal is just... wrong. This is a unique VIDEO GAME. The story for the game was not in the comics, I believe it was made for the game.

Infamous: It was fairly unique. You can't call it a Prototype ripoff because the games were released at the same time. >.>

Prototype: It was also unique. Your powers were varied and interesting. You can't call it an Infamous ripoff because it was released at the same time as Infamous.

I dont care if a game plays out like a movie, so long as the gameplay is sound

in many cases, it can enhance the gameplay experience, but so long as they dont change the gameplay to make it more 'cinematic', that sucks

I can appreciate Yahtzee's criticisms of Drake's character, but I think he's being a bit of a hypocrite as well. He makes a valid argument that what works for a movie doesn't necessarily work for a game, but he doesn't acknowledge the opposite is true as well. Since movies are a passive experience already it's easier for directors and writers to take time out to flesh out character minutia like feeding one's goldfish. Video games on the other hand have to keep a lively pace going and keep the player involved, so what cutscenes are used have to be used sparingly. On top of that Uncharted has to keep us engaged for 10hrs while Indy only has to entertain for just a couple. So like it or not killing enemies, while incongruous with the character, is necessary to make the game fulfilling.

Funnily enough Yahtzee has said in the past that the best writing and visual media are succinct and punchy and that's pretty much Uncharted in a nutshell. But then he's also criticized games that do flesh out characters in the way that he's describing like MGS and Mass Effect.

Also I sense his nostalgia is getting the best of him because I don't remember Indiana being that deep of a character either and had the Uncharted games been set in a time period where he could kill Nazis the game would be branded a Indiana Jones rip-off instead of just mislabeled that way. Yahtzee speaks as if the Indy films aren't popcorn entertainment themselves when they're actually the ultimate popcorn entertainment, which is why they're so memorable to begin with.

Uncharted is the same way, complete and total popcorn entertainment, but executed in a thrilling enough way to be memorable and to stick with us long after we've played games with more thematic heft. Despite being popcorn Indy is more memorable than most Oscar winning movies and I suspect Uncharted 2 will have a similar impact on games.

KDR_11k:
So how does that stack up with Lara Croft? I mean, we do see some parts of her private life but you still consider her evil.

I think Lara is a lot more "stacked".

VanityGirl:

Xiado:
Not to justify Uncharted 2, which was stupid, but not much originality in games this year, even among what you named

Borderlands: Wasteland space planet and lost treasure- not original
Modern Warfare 2: Creatively executed, but pretty much ripped off of Tom Clancy's works, I felt like I was playing Splinter Cell: Bullet Hose edition
Brooetal Legend: Rips off of pretty much everything in heavy metal
Batman: Arkham Asylum: Hasn't this thing been done in the comics, movies, and tv shows a million times already?
Darkest of Days: You got me, this was pretty original
Overlord 2: Same as the first game, so not really original
Infamous: Ripped off Prototype
Prototype: Ripped off Infamous
Bionic Commando: The name speaks for itself
Velvet Assassin: Kind of original, but loses points for being based on a real person
Madworld: Deathmatch tv show. I think Manhunt did something like this.

Sorry buddy, had to quote you.
You can't judge a game like that, otherwise EVERY game sounds uninteresting.
Otherwise:
Bioshock: Underwater, not original
System Shock 2: Oh it's set in space, not original.

See the problem there?

Batman: Arkham Asylum: Though I have a personal problem with the game. To say it's unoriginal is just... wrong. This is a unique VIDEO GAME. The story for the game was not in the comics, I believe it was made for the game.

Infamous: It was fairly unique. You can't call it a Prototype ripoff because the games were released at the same time. >.>

Prototype: It was also unique. Your powers were varied and interesting. You can't call it an Infamous ripoff because it was released at the same time as Infamous.

Bioshock: A crumbling Ayn-Randian dystopia mutilated by greed and genetic mutation. That's pretty original. Same goes with System shock, a lot of my post was just for humor.

Actually, it seems to me that Drake doesn't actually blow the question off. When Lazarevic brings the question up Drake's hesitation is quite noticeable. And he doesn't kill Lazarevic, the guardians do.

"You don't have the will"- Lazarevic

"Maybe not. But THEY do."- Drake

The lack of humanity with the character seems to be a common complaint... I can understand why.

Couldn't agree more. Game storytelling needs more ambition - like MGS1. Not the overwritten crap that followed.

I didn't particularly like Indiana Jones in the first places, the movies bored the shit out of me. But from the sounds of the character from Yahtzee's description... he seems a bit extrodinary, a bit too extrodinary to be human. You can't fault Nate for being the way he is... and the idea of a money grabbing, self-centred twat is more realistic than the selfless Indiana Jones style character.

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