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LONG BLOG

RE: Sundays with Sagat: Uncharted 2

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Didn't want this to get lost in the sea of comments attached to the article, and I had more to say than I thought. No pictures this time, sorry.

This isn't me defending Uncharted 2. He picked the game, and so I'm sticking with it, but you could just as easily substitute any other high production value GotY winner that also was an action game. His issues with Uncharted are broad enough that they can be applied to the genre at large, but because he gave the title purchase, I went ahead and stuck with it to save confusion, and vocabulary.

Uncharted doesn't try to give us something to walk away with on a cerebral level. If it tried to do that and failed, Sagat would have an argument. All it tries to do is deliver an action packed experience, which it does, regardless if the "threat of real danger" is present or merely percieved.

Games are an interactive medium, and it seems Sagat has either forgotten this, or he wants games to behave as movies, Mr. Sagat. You're right, the movie equivalent of Uncharted 2 doesn't win the Oscar, but the movie equivalent isn't taxed with being INTERACTIVE. I can watch Pi or Eraserhead or City of Lost Children until my brains bleed out of my ears, and then I can ponder the social commentaries, high-brow art, or the videography itself, but these experiences would not make for the best video games. Why? Well, what aspect of any of those films offers any sort of control or interactivity to the potential player? None of them. They use their medium to convey thoughts and ideas well suited to it; it just so happens INTERACTIVITY is well suited to the action genre. The Oscars are for film, the title "Game of the Year (in all of its unstandardized, diverse application)" is for games. They are not the same thing. Why do you want games to be beholden to the film industry standard?

He also mentioned that the plot was predictable, as if all of the movie equivalents he proceeded to mention were not. It's the nature of the beast. Are excellent, jaw dropping set pieces necessarily subject to predictable plot devices 100% of the time? No! But, by and large, the plot tends to take a back seat to the action because the script-writer knows their audience, and they know their audience wants to see cliffhanging tension, and they know their audience wants to see shit get blown up. Not to mention that we can interact with it much more smoothly and profoundly than we could in a game based on Eraserhead, or any of the aforementioned art house films. He also goes on to describe how the Hollywood analogues are all blockbuster action movies who concern themselves with fluff and racey, heart-pounding sequences . . . and then follows with raking Uncharted over the coals for not being intellectually engaging . . . I don't get it. If Indiana Jones or Star Wars is intellictually engaging, either you're a moron, or I am, because I just don't get it. Instead of having problems with what the game tried to do, you're having problems with what the game is very upfront about never even having tried.

Do you have problems with Bridges of Madison County not keeping me on the edge of my seat with car chases, or Grama's Boy not exploring our mortality as human beings? I don't, because I understand the nature of the genre. Again, not all action movies have to be fantastically idiotic, but if I go to an action movie, or buy an action game, I expect, first and foremost, at the expense of all else, action.

The rest of what he said is detrimental to the experience, and smacks of typical elitism. "It isn't hard enough?" Who cares? You're e-peen? WoW players have been decrying mass-market appeal for 3 years, now, claiming that normalizing difficulty somehow detracts from the experience. They're all morons. Don't be a moron. WoW players misunderstood "BROKEN" as "difficult," and so as the game is more and more heavily patched, it gets more and more fixed, more and more playable to a broader audience, all the while frustration and once unachievable goals actually become palatable, enjoyable, and less broken. This is a good thing. It relfects the industry's ability to learn and adapt.

I understand that people like the sense of acomplishment that follows along with a difficulty having been overcome, digital or otherwise; Hell, I have recently been playing most all of my games on hard mode because it's fun and challenging and I do, in fact, feel acomplished upon conquering them, but this feeling I get doesn't stand in oppossition to the experience I had with Uncharted 2. I reckognize that all experiences are not the same, and they all require that I approach them in the way best suited to what they're asking me to do. If they're asking me to laugh, I approach it vastly differently than if they're asking me to think, or just zone out as shit gets blown up. Uncharted 2 blows shit up, and does it so well that even through this "percieved" threat of death or danger that I am well aware of, it still gets me to the edge of my seat, sweatty hands gripping a controller. All of the movies that Sagat mentioned also do this. You know Luke isn't going to die, and you know Indy is going to get the girl and the artifact, but often the mere perception that danger is present is enough for us. It is for me, anyway.
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About SBC Slamone of us since 3:30 AM on 01.07.2010

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