I recently finished my first playthrough of Uncharted 2. As I mentioned, somewhat manically, in my last post, I loved it. It was a gripping, expertly paced, cinematic experience from start to finish. The linear nature of the game is making a second playthrough a lot less exciting, but without it being so cunningly scripted to begin with, I wouldn’t have found the first trip so riveting.
But this is not simply a continuation of me gushing over Naughty Dog’s latest.
As games continue to approach reality… well, not real reality, but at least the simulacrum of reality in which most movies take place, I seem to be starting to assign more humanity to the characters therein. This is great in that I find myself more involved in the protagonist’s struggle, wincing when they’re hurt and grinning at their triumphs. However, thinking of video games as taking place in a fictitious reality does not jive well with many legacy gameplay tropes.
Monday’s Penny Arcade touches on this, assigning the legion of mercenary soldiers (around 900, on Normal) you have to plow through during the course of the game families and emotions. The question that sprung to mind, about 3/5ths of the way through the game is why do these soldiers continue to stand and fight. I, as Nathan Drake, have already (almost) single-handedly slaughtered five hundred of their comrades. What makes them think that they will fare any better? As controlled by the player, Drake is an inexorable force: he can recover from near fatal wounds in mere seconds, and even if they do manage to kill him, then he will be back shortly, ready to make another attempt on their lives. I could see the first few waves of soldiers giving killing him an honest try, and maybe a few dozen more after that, driven by revenge… but after that it only makes sense for them to lay down their arms and flee. Sure, their leader, Lazarevic, would probably hunt them down and kill them and their families for desertion, but if they get out of my way, I’ll take care of him. I think a humble life as a farmer, having hung up the grenade launcher and fearsome skull facemask for good, would be preferable to being hurled from a cliff.
But that wouldn’t be much fun.