Saturday, November 30, 2013

On The Contrary - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Throughout my life, I have been a gaming connoisseur of every genre and platform. I've loved countless games and franchises, and hated countless more. A fact that I find rather amusing is that, more often than not, my preferences and favorites in the gaming industry are very different than most other people. I thought Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was a rather great game, I've never liked the Final Fantasy series, I am the biggest fan of Mirror's Edge, and I think Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a piece of garbage. Those are just a few of the things that set me apart from the general consensus

But one recent series has raised my ire for far too long, a current-gen game long heralded as the best on its console and even one of the best video games ever. I would be remiss to allow my viewpoint, no matter how objectionable it may be to others, to go unspoken. There are many people who attest to the quality of this game, and yet I find myself with an opinion contrary to the overwhelming majority, as I usually do. To put it simply...

I fucking hate Uncharted 2. I hate it so fucking much. The first Uncharted game is just run-of-the-fucking-mill, yet the sequel is the same shit but it gets accolades up the ass! Fuck this game!!!

Ok ok, I promised myself I would dispense with my usual vulgarity, and attempt to discuss this somewhat
sensitive topic in an intellectual manner.

I rarely have a comment about either Uncharted game that is complimentary towards it, in fact my usual response would be the exact opposite, for reasons that I hope are valid and not just rambling on my part. Yet when the games are brought up, especially Uncharted 2, it's with this Citizen Kane-esque assumption that it's an extraordinary specimen of its entertainment medium that should never have its quality put in question, lest you make yourself appear trollish, contrarian, or simply ignorant. To these men and women who find themselves adoring and worshiping this franchise and fervently defending it from any negative reviews, my inquiry to you is succinct, to the point, and very earnest:

What the fuck is wrong with you? Have none of you ever played a game before Uncharted? Honestly, I'd be just as impressed with these games as you are IF I NEVER PLAYED A VIDEO GAME BEFORE! Take anyone from the 18th century, put them in front of the TV screen and pop in Uncharted 2, and he'll probably flip shit just by seeing the fucking Start menu! That doesn't mean it's the best game on the PlayStation 3 like you motherfuckers keep saying!

For every underrated gem of a game that fails in the industry because of absolute SHIT reasons like poor sales, lack of exposure/marketing, not being a console exclusive, or being made by a developer that isn't Rockstar or Valve, there's an asshole game like Uncharted or Call of Duty that eats the money of customers and crushes the dreams of creative developers, and it's all YOUR FAULT for buying them!

Ahem... sorry. Back to professionalism.

Don't misinterpret my harshness as hostility towards the game's fanbase for having different tastes than myself, but simply shock and awe as to how this series, which is mundane at the best of times, has gathered such a strong and loving mainstream audience. Any perceived aggression from my end is directed solely at the game, not the players. That is not to say, however, that you fuckers are without blame in this case, as this game wouldn't be so unbearable if not for its insulting amount of success.

So let me make this perfectly clear, because I know someone is going to take this personally: if you like Uncharted, that's perfectly fine. there's nothing wrong with liking it. I'm not attacking people for liking this game, and I'm not saying Uncharted 2 is the worst game ever made, I'm simply addressing the numerous hordes of people who hold Uncharted 2 up on some godly pedestal.

The most important thing, however, is for me to actually tell you WHY I dislike this game so much. If you look around gaming forums and chatrooms, the only time someone says Uncharted 2 sucks is when they're trolling, and even if they're honest about their opinion they never back it up. It's really sad if I'm the first person to call these games out in a legitimate fashion AND back up my opinions.

Please note that while my reasons are sometimes subjective and can be chalked up as "just my opinion," recognize that my reasons for disliking these games so hard are still valid, and that some objective criticism can be taken from this. Besides, saying something is "just my opinion" is basically saying you hate what I said, but can't refute it. If I go through the trouble of explaining my opinions, I hope critics of my views would do the same.

Reason 1: Nathan Drake

This one seems the reason most easily chalked up to "just my opinion." I just don't find anything appealing about this smug, smarmy one-liner generator robot wrapped up in a poor human-esque facsimile of a bland, average white guy. It's like they looked at every adventure movie star in mainstream American film, and created a composite character by removing every unique personality trait from all of them until the result is the most homogenized and uninspired "average Joe" video game character I've ever seen, and every video game character since Uncharted that suffers from this same problem is a direct result of ripping off Nathan Drake (examples include Prince of Persia 2008, Will Grey from Dark Void, and Jason Fleming of Shadow Complex, whose imitations of Uncharted's protagonist go so far as to mimic his appearance and hire Nolan North to do the voice).

After watching both Uncharted movies, I still can't see anything about him that sets him apart as a character. He's a snide yet "honorable" adventuring plunderer who travels with a perverted smartass old guy and a doe-eyed, yet tenacious blonde white girl love interest who alternates between arms-crossed snarkiness and flirting towards the main character. The only unique aspect of the writing is just how far they push these unbearably typical tropes and stereotypes. Honestly, the amount of wise-cracking in the dialogue between Nathan, Sully and Elena reaches horridly dangerous levels. It's almost as if they're a parody of every cheesy Hollywood action flick, like National Treasure wasn't enough of a piss-take for that genre.

The whole cast reminds me of a shitty Johnny Quest cartoon, except the ethnic villains aren't quite as offensive in Uncharted, although the notion that you can tell if someone in the story is evil by whether or not they have a non-American accent still bugs the fuck outta me. Seriously, take a good look and notice that the only characters portrayed as generally moral in Uncharted are the only Americans in the whole fucking series!

Reason 2: Gameplay

For a series that has been celebrated for aping its gameplay mechanics from other video games and improving and refining them, Uncharted's gameplay is neither improved nor refined compared to the games it borrows from. It only seems that way to some because the game is so god-awfully linear, there's no opportunities to experiment with the mechanics enough to see how flawed they really are.

The third-person shooter mechanics are the worst part of both games, which is especially bad as it's the most prominent part of both games. I don't even know where to start with them. I mean, at best they're a slightly more boring form of the same third-person cover shooter shit we've seen in every game from Gears of War to 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. Where it fails miserably is with the enemies, who in the first game are complete bullet sponges, and in the second installment they're only slightly more vulnerable to gunfire but make it worse than its predecessor with insane numbers. This Lezarevic motherfucker rolls with a massive posse, as he can throw literally hundreds of faceless loyal droning thugs at a single person in every place they go.

Reason 3: Interactive Summer Blockbuster

I don't buy interactive DVD players, I buy video game consoles, dammit. If there's two genres I am sick and tired of, it's military shooters and interactive movies. And since Uncharted isn't a military shooter, I'll save that rant for another occasion (most likely when Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and whatever knockoffs are sure to follow are released), let's focus on interactive movies.

1 comment:

  1. I am surprised you didn't touch on the platforming. It's just so automated and linear. Ugh. For SURE the visuals a big part of the love for the series. That and the dreaded "set piece." Ugh. I hate the interactive movie type design of single player campaigns so much. It's a matter of preference for sure but for me it's a detriment.


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