Let’s just take a deep breath, settle down and try to process just how immensely tragic this entire, sordid affair is. The leaked information that has emerged, detailing critical excerpts of one of this generations most anticipated sequels is unquestionably one of the most shocking examples of treachery the games industry has ever seen. Though I’m sure many would argue that the disagreeable story is exponentially worse. Speculation continues over the source of the leaks, as people debate whether the admission originated from a disgruntled former employee of NaughtyDog or whether Sony’s official position that it could actually be attributed to a hacker. Whatever the means the result is still the same. The damage is done and its unclear whether NaughtyDog can recover from such a catastrophic grievance.
People are hurt. Betrayed even. Which is totally understandable considering the unique circumstances we find ourselves in. But this leak not only tarnishes the credibility of an illustrious studio, one that has enriched story telling in games to the extent that even major Hollywood studios have tried to replicate the games cinematic refinement, but also demonstrates the inherent toxicity that afflicts the wider gaming firmament. People seem to relish in the failure of others, genuinely elated that a prestigious studio, with a highly ambitious sequel is being so vehemently condemned. Not because of any altruistic concern for the supposed mistreatment of employees, but simply because they get some kind of perverted satisfaction from seeing something so celebrated falter.
As valuable and as inclusive as social media is, it can also be interminably cynical. The involuntary disclosure of sensitive plot details is disastrous, something that can’t be underestimated nor diminished. A game that contains such a sinuous narrative, and relies heavily on the unexpected, as well as the discovery of these astonishing revelations through a profoundly affecting journey is vital. Without the preamble the entire journey is comprimised. But just because you know the broad, pertinent details that consolidates the story, doesn’t necessarily mean that it amalgamates the experience. And that’s the thing, you have to experience the journey. To vicariously endure the same struggles that torments these characters. To really feel what they feel. Just because you know specific details or watched revealing material, doesn’t mean you know. It would be like summarising “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy by saying its a 9 hour long expedition to return some unwanted jewellery!
Whether or not you are/were going to buy “The Last Of Us II” is entirely at your own discretion. Personally, despite being an advocate for gaming sequels, particularly one of a game of such esteemed notoriety, I had little interest in a continuation of a story that depicted a final, if not conclusive ending. Just don’t let the leaked footage be the contributing reason for not getting “The Last Of Us II”. This is a game that has to be experienced, not dismissed.
Have these leaks put you off? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
You maybe surprised to learn that I’ve been playing “Uncharted:The Lost Legacy”. As if a connoisseur of this franchise wouldn’t be engaged in another exhilarating exhibition of wilful genocide?! The provocateur of many dangerous expeditions, demolisher of precariously constructed structures, eradicator of rare mythological antiquities and hoarder of every Uncharted Platinum. It’s good to be back! Espousing the wretched deeds of a man with the sheer tenacity and fortuity to destroy every last archeological city/ruin/ship he’s ever discovered. Despite this concentrated level of callous destruction Nathan Drake remains an endearing, if accident prone rogue with all the charismatic distinction that made Nate him such an affable protagonist. Sadly with the retirement of Drake into matrimonial domesticity the Uncharted franchise has pandered to the aspirations of feminist vocation, further diminishing the influence of modern masculinity by replacing Nathan Drake with Chloe Frazer. A women. The inferior gender with none of the rugged strength, intelligence or flatulence that makes man a much more viable option for heroism. And it’s glorious!
I’ll miss Drake, of course I will but Chloe isn’t merely a replacement but a necessity. She has always been one of my favourite supporting players so to see her in a more prominent role is deeply gratifying. Her omission in “A Thief’s End” may have been necessary, but it was a glaring absence that betrayed her more illustrious presence in Uncharted 2. Here she’s as sharp as she is wryly. Focused and unyielding yet compassionate and vulnerable. The abrasive dynamic between Chloe and Nadine infuses their tentative relationship with a fluctuant chemistry never explored in the series before. They argue and bicker yet support one another to achieve their mutually independent goals. I’ve yet to finish Lost Legacy, so I’m reserving further analysis until then. But for my money, not that I have any, this could be the start of something new. Nathan Drakes tenure as Uncharted’s chief architect is over, his personal fortune found. But Uncharted itself may have discovered a whole new legacy to commence.
What do you think of “The Lost Legacy”? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
It’s taken me some time to adequately summarise my opinions regarding Uncharted 4. It’s more than likely going to be the last Uncharted game I’ll ever review so I wanted to treat it with the utmost significance that it’s expiration deserves. I needed to make absolutely certain that every subtle detail, every mild irritation or emphatic set piece is addressed with regulated neutrality. That every conceivable disputant is equally judged. Bias is a difficult thing to subvert, requiring processes that can generate adaptive, analytical persuasions, allowing you to perceive distinctions without preferential mandates. For me it’s like saying that my daughters smile is the most heartwarming moment of my day (and it is!) without it sounding biased. Hopefully my views will contain a resonating parity, rooted in admiration and passion for a project I’m firmly beguiled by. Not a sceptical cynic or an obliviously ignorant fan who will not listen to any negativity levelled at Uncharted. In any case I have conveniently separated my review into accessible, less congested portions consisting of game-play, story, a comprehensive overview, a special anonymous segment reserved for later and today’s topic; graphics.
Do you remember the ring Drake wore around his neck, carved with the inscription “sic parvis magna”, which when translated means “greatness from small beginnings?” That’s an adage that perfectly illustrates Uncharted 4’s visuals. When you compare this to Drakes Fortune it’s like comparing Leonardo Da Vinci with Banksy. One dedicated their effort into concealing every brush stroke, conveying a visible subtlety of the person depicted. The other uses stencils, defacing public property with vaguely defined political agendas. I’m sorry, but there are far more talented graffiti artists that don’t generate half the recognition this charlatan does. The environments, the atmosphere and characters in Uncharted 4 are laced with such resplendent decadence that its almost pornographic. It’s luxurious settings are so rich and vibrant, with even the rippling oceans glimmering with radiant obedience. The trees and foliage swaying as if an actual elemental force is encouraging movement. Even the mud and the versatility of the brick work on a building is exquisite?! It’s any number of descriptive, wholly pretensions words you can formulate. It is utterly STUNNING! I want to own the concept art, frame it and just stare at it for days. It’s remarkable. I want to lick it! It’s like ocular cocaine, you’re just addicted by the enthralling beauty that reconciles the visual parity between console and PC. And I know you PC elitists will rebuke that and you’re probably right, but this is a demonstration of a developer utilising every sliver of information at there disposal to create the best looking game possible. And a company at the peak of its creative stride.
“See, that’s my house down there. The grey one.”
Because of the exquisitely rendered locations the environments feel extensive, granting a sense of exploration in an otherwise linear setting. Though exploration is confined to deceptively restricted fixtures it always felt much bigger, malleable, with tangible structures that could conceivably be hidden in some far reaching wilderness, as well as a world that can be traversed, adding new and exciting tactical variation to combat. The only thing more captivating is the character animations. Every blemish, every scar even the pores on the skin are visibly genuine. The authenticity of characters facial reactions, the subtle inflections, the way they emote is done in a way you’d expect a human being to react, not an automated representation imitating human emotions. It’s like the characters have been sculpted by God himself/herself that provides much more depth and credibility to the emotional interactions.
In short the graphics are astounding. The locations are so generously sumptuous that it’s impossible not to smile just thinking about it. The characters don’t just look like farcical representation of people, they look and most importantly feel REAL. I can totally imagine the likes of Drake, Elena and Sully inhabiting our world somewhere, living happily in some kind of converted bungalow in New Delhi. NaughtyDog haven’t just set the bar high, they’ve done away with it and said “don’t even try”.
It’s a difficult proposition to rank the Uncharted games. There’s a subtle diversity to the tone and sometimes quality of each individual entry, making separation a rather benign convention. But my admiration for this series deems such objective analysis a worthy arbitration, for the simple fact that I get to talk in depth about my favourite subject. And just because I love this series, that shouldn’t precipitate that it is exempt from criticism. This list will consist of only the 4 primary entries in the series so sorry to those two “Golden Abyss” fans. I’m sure many of you familiar with the series will contest my views, I’m not even sure this list could be considered definitive even to me, but it is as it is, for better or worse. So in ascending order is my list of the best Uncharted games.
#4. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune.
No surprises here. Drakes Fortune is a solid if patchy entry, that lays a suitable foundation for the more polished sequels. The search for El Dorado is arguably one of the more compelling plot devices used in the series, even if ultimately the city of gold is relegated to merely a cursed artefact embellished by sustained historical falsity. It contains many of series core mechanics still retained today, and does a great job of introducing characters that only become more enduring as the series progresses. Drakes Fortune is probably the series most measured affair, that belies it’s organically compounded dynamic utilised in latter entries. You’ve also got to remember that Drakes Fortune was being developed under intense public scrutiny and a great cost to NaughtyDog both financially and to their credibility. It was a huge gamble considering the endearing success of “Crash Bandicoot”. Without Drakes Fortune this list would feel much lighter, so it deserves a great deal of respect. But ultimately it is a forgettable romp, filled with largely irrelevant villains, expeditious conclusion, innocuous and borderline irritating vehicular sections and a rather jarring finale.
# 3. Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception.
A visceral, yet crucially venerated plot disguised as a intimate psychology of the mind of Nathan Drake and the vaguely hinted demons that inhabit it. This thinly veiled premise did a stern job of introducing some beautiful, albeit erratic smattering of locations that creates a sense of adventure, as you embark on treacherous excursions that’s conclusion is unclear. Nathan Drakes obsessive determination to find the lost city is supposed to be something of considerable pertinence to him. Something he, as well as us should feel as personally invested in. Yet this endeavour didn’t resonate with any more significance than the search for Shangri La. This, from my perspective at least felt like the first entry that really struggled to retain fluency. It felt more like a series of scripted instances, randomly generated demonstrations that illustrate NaughtyDog’s whimsical imagery, compiled together to form an amalgamation of dynamic events, as though NaughtyDog worked the story around the epic set pieces. It reminds me of Shaun in “Shaun of the dead” when he is trying to make a comparison between team and meat pie. “There’s no I in team, but there is an I in meat pie.” You understand that they are trying to make a point, but you’re not entirely sure what it is? There is however more depth and definition to the primary cast.
The characterisations are still enthralling, especially between Drake, Elena and Sully. Drake is more reckless in his approach, relying on sheer will. Elena has matured, advancing her career without risking life and limb to achieve this. And Sully has progressed from the money driven, morally repressed mentor into a more wizened, paternal father figure for Drake. Though many of the overarching conversations between them are a little more tender, this exposed sentiment really helps to elevate each and every character. The same cannot be said for the rest of the cast however. Though Katherine Marlow is a formidable foil, her subordinate Talbot is redundant. His involvement with Marlow is never really explained, neither are his vaguely defined prophetic abilities. Chloe is reduced to crew member # 4, with Cutter (crew member #3) a completely disposable confederate, merely enabling Drake to escape one of the most anti-climatic deaths scenes since every Marvel movie and giving Drake someone to converse with that is slightly more interesting than a brick wall. The biggest problem is that many elements of Drakes Deception suffers from a curious case of repetition.
We’ve seen this all before. The mystical creatures, even if they were delusions feel overused after the previous entries used them with such vigour. And when you get down to it, all of these dramatic feats, shoot outs and death defying stunts is to find a lost city, again. A city deserted because of the Arabian, supernatural entities known as the “Djiin”, which is a direct result of a demonic oppressor from the very depths of Hell! Oh wait no; it was a vase. An evil vase. An evil vase that poisoned the water of this exalted city, driving everyone insane. Well at least it culminates in a epic showdown between Drake and Talbot, locked in a brutal encounter that…no, wait. No, it’s just a series of QTE’s. Huh? Having said that Drakes Deception is more than salvaged by the incredible set pieces, with many of the stories or game-play’s incoherence instantly forgiven due to the fact that it’s such a blast to play. You could almost feel the heat emanating on the screen as you attempt to escape the burning château, the incredible sense of isolation as a dehydrated Nate staggers through the expansive desolation of dunes in the Rub Al Khali desert. The disorientation of shooting you’re way off a slowly sinking ship as it Sunday wrenches starboard.
Drakes Deception relies heavily on theatrical dynamics, it’s penchant for the dramatic and uses every conceivable excuse to ignite the highly volatile scenery rather than portraying a compelling or even competent story. Yet it’s ceaseless volatility makes it one of the more captivating and exciting entries to play.
#2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
I was so close to putting this top. In fact I’m still conflicted as to whether I’ve made the right choice, but on reflection I don’t think Among Thieves deserves to be considered the top spot. In many respects it’s still the best in the series. It’s high octane, introducing some of the most theatrical, sometimes breathtaking set pieces I’ve ever experienced. The entirety of the Helicopter chase is hypnotic! For the most part you’re clinging onto the controller, praying that the collapsing building doesn’t squash you into a Drake sandwich. And the train, oh my god the train! I had by ass clenched so tight trying to navigate my way from the back, to the front carriage that I couldn’t poop for 3 days! Watching helplessly as Drake clutches onto the back of the carriage as the disconnected portion of the train comes hurtling towards you like a rogue rotisserie. “It’s not going to hit me, no. No? No! Drake! Pull yourself up its going to hit you! Drake! Drake!!! Agghhuuuhhgggbt! Oh god I need….air!” These were moments the series has never adequately replicated with the same intensity, despite subsequent attempts. But Among Thieves is well aware of the limitations of explosions by just toning things down to a more austere pace as they did with the Tibetan village. There’s a vast distinction between Drakes Fortune and Among Thieves. The disparity between the two is discernible, whereas the difference in quality between Among Thieves and Drakes Deception is negligible. Among Thieves is such a bigger, better, bolder game. It created this sense of hyperventilating anxiety, as if you were always on the cusp of losing control. Every shifting ledge, every explosive reverberation even the slightest environmental alteration had you on edge. It’s like Grandpa in the Simpsons indiscriminately pointing at different people and hysterically yelling “DEATH!” That’s how you feel trying to negotiate through war torn cities, jungles, mountains, ancient civilisation’s or any environmental hazard that “will” try to kill you!
Among Thieves was captivating and at times creepy. The moment you descend into the hidden sanctum replete in the skeletal remains of Marco Polo’s crew, each with unexplained blackened teeth and traces of blood all across the floor as if they’d all killed each other still creeps me out. The relationships are more refined than in Drakes Fortune too. The chemistry between Drake and Elena resonates with such intensity here, particularly with the addition of alluring temptress Chloe Frazier contributing additional dimension to Drake and Elena’s strained romance, with Chloe enabling Drakes reckless endeavours. It also features one of my favourite exchanges between Drake and Elena, where after sustaining serious almost mortal wounds Elena asks Drake on a scale of 1 to 10 how scared he was that she was going to die, where Drake glibly replies “4”. Elena, further trying to clarify what constitutes as a 10, Nate, without hesitation affirms that “clowns” are top of that distressing pyramid. Uncharted 2 features all the elements that truly define the series. The environments, the combat, the exploration and the characters. So how could such a seemingly perfect game only procure the silver medal in this contest? Well two crucial reasons.
The first being Sully’s primarily and largely absent participation, relegated to mere subsidiary observer for much of this entry, casually leaving early on. But easily the biggest crime is the horrendously asinine villain; Lazarevic. A derivative caricature of a villain he’s intentionally portrayed as this deranged, snarling, psychopathic killer, snuffing out members of his own inventory simply because they don’t warrant consideration. His motivations are solid enough; he wants to find Shangri La to gain immeasurable power so he can, you guessed it, take over the world. He’s heavily accented, is bald and has a pronounced scar on his face. Seriously Lazarevic couldn’t of been any more of a generic antagonist if he were sat in a swivel chair stroking a white cat demanding sharks with laser beams?! Every time he was on screen he irritated me, just devolving into this laborious plot device rather than an actual human being. Now Flynn, now that’s an antagonist. Not villain, not interlacing his fingers and exclaiming “excellent”, but a fully formed, intent antagonist with progressive motivations and context. The verbal jousting between Flynn and Drake is only further escalated when they become enemies, intensifying the collaborative dissonance between. It’s also incredibly enjoyable to watch.
Perhaps I’m being overly critical and unfairly biased to vilify the entire game based solely on these two proprietary errors. But I really do value this game despite the economic use of Sully and stereotypical antagonist. In a few years, properly motivated, a revised list may well have Uncharted 2: Among Thieves at the top of this list. But for this one it will have to settle for the silver medal…..
#1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
So how and why has this ascended to the top of the thrown, usurping Uncharted 2 which many consider the unequivocal focal point of the series? Well you’re have to wait for my review, which I have decided to separate into various categories for ease of use. Basically because I waffle on for extended periods and by reducing the review into segregated portions I can at least focus on specific points with expeditious leniency. Plus you shouldn’t get as bored. It’s a subject I have much to discuss, and also one I want to be entirely sure I discuss with salient clarification. This could very well be the last Uncharted game I’ll review and I just want to get it right.
So what is your’e favourite game in the series? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
I’ve been patient. Very patient as it happens. Applying a rigorous discipline to my naturally agitated mindset. Enduring years of resigned vacuity, two delays and possessing enough games in my library to play so I wouldn’t be thinking about so much until finally, FINALLY, Uncharted 4 was mine! But I’ll admit that’s it’s release coincides with my own self doubt about its credentials. I’ve been complacent with my quality control before when it comes to purchasing new games, estimating something great and getting Destiny. Anticipating a unique new IP and getting Watchdog’s, taking a metaphorical dump in my PS4. There are multiple considerations that go into concluding whether or not to purchase a game. Stylistically does it meet you’re specific requirements? Is it a genre you’d feel comfortable participating in? Does the developer have a good track record of producing exciting, compelling games? Is it developed by EA or Ubisoft? In which case let’s mock and jape their squandered self respect. But from a consumer perspective you don’t want to have to research every conceivable facet. Posturing the distinguishing characteristics, calculating the differentiating variables that roughly determine the ratio of good and bad. If we did that then buying games would become more convoluted than the previous sentence! It’s difficult to evaluate a games quality without diminishing the mystique of an unreleased game. The unknown variables that determine whether or not a game is a good, surely that’s part of being a gamer?
Uncharted 4 is a game I would’ve purchased regardless of general critical consensus. It could’ve been lambasted to the seven circles of Hell and it still would have received my financial backing. It’s a pretty ignorant (and hypocritical) philosophy to have I realise, to buy something regardless of it quality. It’s the one issue I believe consolidates all of the acrimony distributed by major developers, who fail to produce worthwhile content because people such as myself will routinely buy it despite everything to the contrary advising you not too. This kind of preferential prejudice is indicative of people who just want to play something good, something they hope a developer has dedicated time an effort to coordinate a game of substance. And you can’t blame gamers for being passionate and wanting a game to be good. But developers ignorance is a discussion for another time, this is about my fears for Uncharted.
I deliberately initiated a separation between myself and any commercial endorsements, trailer’s, previews, reviews, fan speculation or coverage of any kind as much as I possibly could. Not easy when so many people are discussing it. I’ve had exposure to very non specific sequences that really only clarify how exhilarating the games excerpts are, the overall structure of the narrative and the tension the game is looking to evoke. At the same time I’ve derived my own conjectural theories, constructing inaccurate hypothesis concerning the recipient of the suggestive “Thief’s End” title for one (I’m hoping its still a reference to Drakes ancestor, Sir Francis. But now that I’ve played it, or at least a portion of it I can say with absolute certainty that my fears were completely baseless. From the diverse environments, the rich engaging dialogue, the self referential nostalgia, characterisations and even a very unexpected, inception like reference to Crash Bandicoot, or “Drakeception” if you will–that had me cackling like my drunk mother at a family barbecue, Uncharted 4 is everything I could’ve wanted. The game is a little more mature than previous instalments, yet retaining much of the levity and gratuitous cinematic fluency that has made it so endearing to fans. The thing is is that I’m invested, I’m concerned and I truly care about these characters. I’m always concerned for their welfare. The anxiety I felt was so potent though that it prevented me from playing it for a whole 5 hours after obtaining it! Which really is a credit to the creators for constructing a game series of such immeasurable pleasure, that I genuinely feared that I was going to lose some of my best friends. I’m only about half way through, currently pillaging a Scottish cemetery but can already tell this is going to be one emotional journey, one that I know I’ll finish and go right back to the start to play all over again.
Ho hum. Composing articles feels like statutory requirement rather than an endearing avidity at the moment. It happens to every blogger at some stage. You feel lethargic, with a reduced capacity for even fleeting glimpses of productivity. I have many concerns that endeavour to censure even the sporadic free time at my disposal at the moment, inducing a rift between writing and gaming. It’s nothing of any considerable intimidation, just a collection of extraneous issues that leverage more consideration as a unit than they would do singularly. The biggest issue currently resides in stable employment. I’ll spare you the tedious details concerning a job I could easily do with my eyes shut, which I tend to do frequently considering there’s little to no work available, but the notion of redundancy is a very real prospect at this time. With a number of colleague departures already this year and the company being as solvent as a Greek poet, it’s looking increasingly likely that I may have to begin searching for a job sooner than I had anticipated. I knew things were bad and I had been taking appropriate action by learning how to drive to expand potential employment opportunities, I just hadn’t anticipated such a radical decline in such a short space of time. The job itself has gone from boring to monotonous, as I’m currently occupying a position that provides a workload that’s more famine than feast. As the number of desertions expands and in the absence of any discernible work I’m reduced to brewing several cups of tea for much needed caffeine injection as well as a means of remaining “proactive”, all whilst contemplating a future with reasonable doubt. A future prohibited by years of negligible career diversity. I blame myself for remaining at the company for so long simply because I had little intention of progressing to a more prosperous institution. If I had been offered a job with prospective career opportunities I’d have taken it without hesitancy, I just felt no motivation to search for said employment before. “Trees that are slow grow to bear the best fruit” or some such adage of faith, at least that’s what I told myself. I come in every morning and wonder why I even bother? As soon as I’m there I’m already wishing away the day so I can return home. At least there my games console isn’t critical of me, abusive to my conduct and most importantly, isn’t boring. Instead soothing the tender sentiment of lethargy.
I’m considering a range of alternate vocations many of which will require provisional training as well as access to vehicular transportation, which I’m currently not licensed to do. Though I’ve summarised my life with rather melancholic cadence, my life isn’t entirely devoted to prophetic gloom. I recently passed my theory driving test achieving a near perfect score, with only 1 wrong question on the multiple choice section. I will become a father a couple of weeks sooner than I had expected due to minor complications that necessitates early inducement. And let’s not forget Uncharted 4 will be released next month.
……ohhhh……BULLOCKS! I suppose I’ll have to make do with being father…..I guess.
*AhhGuhhrarr!* I was almost ready to drop a completely different article tonight. It was set, constructed, vaguely legible account and then this sexy beast comes rasping at my door, begging me to acknowledge it’s beautifully rendered vista’s, broad verdant pastures replete with hidden dangers and Drake’s vascular physique and grizzled features again confusing my stringent heterosexual orientations! But damn it if you aren’t one handsome devil Nate! I don’t care how long it takes, how much time off my newly acquired parental duties I’ll require to play this. I don’t even care if consent for the hours I’ll inevitably dedicate to Uncharted 4 is forthcoming from my disgruntled partner; I’m playing, exploring and generally “charting” my way to completion! Nothing is going to stop me. Unless, oh god! Unless NaughtyDog delay it again?!
Stop teasing me NaughtyDog and just hook it to my veins!!!!