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Community Discussion: Blog by Vargas | RANT: Characters in Uncharted.Destructoid
RANT: Characters in Uncharted. - Destructoid




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About
Hello there, fellow Dtoider. Name's Vargas, I'm 20 and I love video-games maybe a little too much. I've been a member for a while now and the community seems friendly, so I decided to become a more active member of the site.
I've alway been bad at writing my bio so I guess I'll just copy-paste those questions in the description box and answer them to make it easier:

How'd you get into gaming?

Back in the 90s my older brother got into video-games. That affected me in turn, because if he thought video-games were cool, I thought video-games were cool. As a kid, I always had to impress my brother somehow. So I got into that hobby too. Naturally, that desire to impress him faded with time, but my fascination for video-games didn't. I started with the SNES, by the way.
That's about it, I guess.

What are your favorites?

It would be easier if I say the genres I don't like: Real time strategy games, fighting games (a few exceptions), racing games (although I like the Burnout series, so go figure), sports games, aaand I think that's it. I pretty much like everything else.
I'm mostly into RPGs. Persona 4 stands as my favorite JRPG of all time.

What are you playing now?

Not much, unfortunately. I own a PS2, a Wii and a PSP. I used to play a lot on my brother's PS3, but not as regularly anymore, because he moved out of the house. I don't have a job and I'm way past the age of asking my parents for a new console. I suppose I'll have to buy a 360 as soon as I can.


Wow, this took a while. I apologize if I made grammar mistakes. English is not my native language, but I try my best to make sense.

That's pretty much it about me, I guess.

I made this bio because I'm planning on blogging soon, so a nice little user description next to the article makes it feel less lame. And feel free to add me and stuff. I'm lonely.
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Something has been on mind lately and I would like somebody else's take on it. A few weeks back, I kinda got into an argument with my older brother about the Uncharted series. More specifically, it was about the main characters and how I don't think they are all that likable. It was an interesting discussion, even though it was kinda hard to reason with my brother, since he's a Uncharted fanboy. And we all know how fanboys are, don't we.

Before I continue, let me I like those games. I don't think they are that absolute masterpiece some people say, but I still enjoyed its cover-based shooting, gorgeous graphics, amazing sequences and top-notch acting. Both games have just okay stories, though. What actually made Uncharted 1 & 2 so well regarded from a narrative perspective was its characters (that's what I think, at least). 

Most people, my brother included, apparently think that Drake, Elena, Sully, Chloe are all great and interesting characters, with distinct and fun personalities. As I mentioned before, that comes from one of the strongest points of the Uncharted fra
Something has been on mind lately and I would like somebody else's take on it. A few weeks back, I kinda got into an argument with my older brother about the Uncharted series. More specifically, it was about the main characters and how I don't think they are all that likable. It was an interesting discussion, even though it was kinda hard to reason with my brother, since he's a Uncharted fanboy. And we all know how fanboys are, don't we.

Before I continue, let me clarify: I like those games. I don't think they are that absolute masterpiece some people say, but I still enjoyed its cover-based shooting, gorgeous graphics, amazing sequences and top-notch acting. Both games have just okay stories, though. What actually made Uncharted 1 & 2 so well regarded from a narrative perspective was its characters (that's what I think, at least). 

Most people, my brother included, apparently think that Drake, Elena, Sully, Chloe are all great and interesting characters, with distinct and fun personalities. As I mentioned before, that comes from one of the strongest points of the Uncharted franchise: the amazing performances by the actors. And no one disagrees that it is amazing, I wouldn't be surprised if the "Naughty Dog method of recording", i.e letting the voice actors do the motion capture for their respective characters, becomes the standard for videogame acting (if not already). Plus the dialogue in Uncharted is good.

But then, after playing  Among Thieves several times... I realized something. With each playthrough, I was getting more... creeped out by those people. That's when the discussion started.



Now, I know this topic isn't new. Jim Sterling wrote something similar about Kane & Lynch Dead Men last year, Yahtzee stated his dislike for Nathan Drake in his column on The Escapist, and so on. Well, this blog post isn't about how I think Uncharted's characterization is bad or anything. Actually, it kinda is. As I said, I like this series, the games are good fun. I guess it's something more of a bunch of nitpicks on this case.

You see, there is an act I strongly believe that can change a person forever: the act of murdering another human being. Of course, maybe that's something obvious, but maybe not, since my brother started throwing excuses for Drake's killing sprees ("well, Indiana Jones kills people too!"). Well, my problem isn't exactly the with killings themselves, since it is a fucking videogame, after all, if we don't kill anything, it won't be fun. No, my problem is more with the way characters act as if murder is something normal. For instance, I remember a moment in Uncharted 2 where I snapped an unalerted guard's neck and Drake yells really loudly and cheerfully "THAT'S YOUR NECK"!

"What. The. Fuck." was my response. Seriously, this guy may be more fucked up than Kane and Lynch.

Basically, I can't relate to Nathan Drake. He never shows a weaker side. His motivations are always about greed and he will almost always kill everyone on his way. Only by the end of Among Thieves he decides to do something a little more heroic for a change, which is stop the bad guy. Too late, asshole, I still don't like you. My whole beef with him is just that I can't believe this guy can kill so much people and still joke around so much. Just who the fuck is Nathan Drake exactly?  



There is still a chance for an explanation for Drake's carefree behaviour around killing. Maybe the guy was in a war or something, I don't know. There's actually so much we don't know about Nathan Drake that it is still possible for the writers to try put some humanity on him for the next game by creating some tragic backstory or something. While there is still hope for Drake himself, the same cannot be said for his love interest, Elena. She is, in my opinion, by far the most fucked up character in this franchise. 

She's just a reporter. A reporter that somehow turns into this invicible killing machine in the first game and in the second game is willing to venture into a crumbling city devastated by some civil war, claiming she's looking for a war criminal. Yeah, right. Maybe after the events of the first game she got a real taste for killing. A perfect opportunity. I also think it's interesting that she almost shows no sadness after her cameraman dies. 

Okay, look. I'm not saying that Uncharted needs to be a series full of drama and real human emotions. What I was hoping for was just hints. Just hints that those characters actually are something more than just killing and greediness. Here, since you've read this far, I'll give you some examples of characters that I like:




James Sunderland deserves a spot here. If you played Silent Hill 2, you know what I'm talking about. One of the bosses in this game is actually a human, not a monster. And after you kill this boss, James actually gets upset for killing a human being, even if it was in self-defense. That's the hint I was talking about. But okay, Silent Hill 2 is, after all, a psychological horror game, so maybe that kind of thing was expected.

But hell, even Modern Warfare 2 made me care a little for Captain Price, mostly because of one of his little speeches at the end, in which he makes a comparison between him and an average person or something like that. It was a neat little speech that made me go "huh, maybe there's more to this guy than just killing". Of course, I was already fond of Price since the original Modern Warfare. If only Modern Warfare 2's plot wasn't so retarded. But I digress.

Fuck, I'm too lazy to talk about the other two, but you get my point, right? Sometimes I need a hint of humanity so I can relate or empathize to a certain character. That never happened when I played Uncharted.

Now if you read all that so far, you might be thinking that I hate everyone in this series. That's not necessarily true, I admit I still laugh at some jokes Nate and Sully throw at each other. Again, I like Uncharted. But for a game that prides itself for being "cinematic" and "close to a Hollywood movie" it certainly lacks some humanity. It feels like the characters try to hide from the player their murdeous natures by having these witty and cute dialogues when they are not shooting things.




My discussion with my brother pretty much ended after I used all those previous arguments and he said something like "oh, enough, it's just a game, you're making a big deal out of this". Am I really? Am I demanding too much from a videogame? I can't ask for a little more substance on the narrative component of a videogame just because... it's a videogame? 

But perhaps he's right. Perhaps I missed the entire point of Uncharted: just go on a big epic cinematic adventure with this handsome guy and have fun. But then I wonder, isn't there going to be a film adaptation? Will all my complaints be valid then, since it's an entire different medium? I dunno, maybe I'm the only one that was bothered by all this.

Am I only the one? Disagree or agree with this post? Want to add anything? Or point some stupidity I might have said (which is likely)? Feel free to comment. This was actually my first blog post ever, so I hope didn't suck. Apologies for any grammar mistake I might have made. My grammar kinda sucks.

And if you're interested to read a little more about the subject, here's Jim Sterling's article about how Kane & Lynch: Dead Men had interesting characterization: http://www.destructoid.com/revisited-kane-lynch-the-best-game-that-ever-sucked-157594.phtml

Anthony Burch's "Rev Rant" about Character Empathy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH1wXRvhSNA

Yahtzee's column: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/6793-Extra-Punctuation-Uncharted-2



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