Been a while, eh? I have to admit that Google+ has been my ‘blogging’ platform lately, but I had a hankering to get back to something a bit more structured. We’ll see how long that lasts. Anyway, here goes…
I’ve been playing electronic games since there’ve been electronic games to play, pretty much. OK I wasn’t in the MIT lab playing Space War! on a PDP-1 when it was invented, but I lived through the transition from mechanical pinball tables to Pong and from there on out, I was a “Gamer.”
We gamers can be a snarky bunch, and we love to argue and debate and proselytize almost as much as we like to play. In fact sometimes I start to get the feeling that actually playing the games comes second to talking about them.
Then every so often the stars align and I’m 12 years old again and staring at a TV screen that is somehow also a game, and a feeling of joy suffuses my spirit.
I’d lost track of the release date of Uncharted 3 so I was a little surprised when the UPS dude dropped it off (along with a cookie for Lola) yesterday. I wasn’t even that excited when I slid the disk into the PS3 later that night. Even though I’d really enjoyed (and finished — a rare event for me) the first two games, somehow the hype for #3 hadn’t really touched me.
And then I launched the game, and the Uncharted theme started to play and a few seconds later Drake and Sully were walking down a London Street, dressed to the nines, and I was hooked.
This blog post isn’t a review and I’m not trying to convince you that you should play Uncharted 3. There are plenty of reviews out there that you can read and decide for yourself. I’m just trying to remind you of what it’s like to truly love a game, warts and all. When’s the last time you felt that way? For me it’d been a little while. Maybe since Red Dead Redemption.
Uncharted, for me, is about story and chemistry. The actual gameplay isn’t all that special and in parts can actually be kind of clunky. But I am genuinely fond of the characters and I love how much work Naughty Dog puts into ‘throwaway’ actions in cut scenes. A tiny example… as the crew sits around a table trying to unravel a puzzle, Chloe (voiced by Claudia Black) throws out a possible answer. Drake (Nolan North) seizes on it as a good lead and the focus of the scene moves to him. But in the background we see Chloe fist-bumping with Charlie Cutter (Graham McTavish), her new beau and a new member of the team. A trivial action? Absolutely, but that’s kind of the point. It’s tiny details like this that make the experience transcend “video game cut scene” and become “interactive movie.”
If you hate interactive movies, that’s OK. There’re lots of games to play besides Uncharted 3.
In a way, I think the Uncharted series is the West’s answer to Final Fantasy. I play both series to get to the next chunk of story, and the stories in Uncharted are good enough to pull me through to the end of the game. That isn’t always true with Final Fantasy: as a Western series, Uncharted’s stories are much less obtuse than they are in a typical iteration of Final Fantasy, too. That helps keep me involved.
Before yesterday I’d been sitting on my hands, squirming in anticipation for Skyrim to release, but now I can’t wait for the work day to end so I can jump back into Uncharted 3. I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I can’t wait to see how Elena (Emily Rose) is going to factor into this episode’s adventure. I love these characters the same way I love Gandalf or Malcolm Reynolds. The fact that they appear in a video game is almost beside the point. Journeying through their adventures with them makes me happy. And making me happy is what games are (generally) supposed to do. [Qualifier to allow for the few ‘message’ games that are out there.]