I will be honest; I came up with this headline before I thought about what this article would do Real go about. Because, realistically, what can I say here? “Remember that blockbuster game franchise that everyone loves that just got a movie adaptation? They should make more of that.” It’s kind of a “no duh” situation. I’m not the first to say they liked *good* things and want another *good* one. I should probably say something sensational. Okay, great: Uncharted is an incredibly unique, industry-shaping series that really appealed to me, and we deserved more from it.
To be fair, Uncharted doesn’t appeal to everyone. Some write off the series as low-brow pop art. If you scroll down a Google search, it won’t be long before you come across critiques calling Uncharted overrated. And to be fair, Naughty Dog’s action blockbuster has a few weaknesses. His gunfight becomes repetitive. The climbing sections are a bit easy as everything is painted the same color so you know exactly where to go. And the stories are staged with more razzle-dazzle than a Hollywood movie.
Now that that’s out of our system, let’s move on to why Uncharted reigns supreme. Uncharted games are basically popcorn movies in interactive form. That’s one of the reasons they go down so easily. But making a game that runs at a high level and appeals to a wide audience is difficult, which makes the charm of the series all the more impressive. But I don’t have to defend Uncharted. It’s ok if you don’t like it. Let me tell you why I do that.
One of the things I like most about Uncharted are the characters. When you watch a game with a highly regarded story, you will notice that fans Real love is an engaging cast. Watch Mass Effect or Red Dead Redemption or Eidos-Montréal’s recent Guardians of the Galaxy, and you’ll find the same thing. If you break those stories down into a linear sequence of events, you’ll find that they seem quite simple and trope-filled. However, these games all have something in common: they are full of incredibly interesting and well-rounded characters. The reason we fall in love with video game stories in the first place is because we first fall in love with the personalities that inhabit those worlds.
And Uncharted has some of the best characters in the business. Sully is the cigar-chewing crook with a past full of adventures that I really just want as my father. Chloe Frazer is the steel-eyed heroine with flexible morals who was so convincing she deserved her own spin-off adventure† Meanwhile, Sam Drake is a character that shouldn’t work. For three games, Nate’s brother was never mentioned; this character should have felt completely out of place. In addition, Sam is a lying, manipulative thief. And yet we love him.
I haven’t even gotten around to talking about two of Uncharted’s most essential characters: Nate and Elena. In our Video Gameogeaphy Podcast, we talk about our appreciation for the romance between these two characters. When we first meet Elena at the start of the first Uncharted, she’s a TV journalist embroiled in one of Nate’s wild Indiana Jonesesque adventures. She seemed like a traditional romance of the week. But as the series evolved, so did her relationship with Nate. The two got married… and then broke up. But something held them together again.
And that’s one of the things I respect about Uncharted’s take on Nate and Elena’s relationship. Naughty Dog didn’t shy away from the challenges of marriage and what it takes to stay committed to another person. Most gaming love stories end as soon as the two protagonists interact. We rarely get to see what happens after the first kiss. But a true long-term relationship takes work and sacrifice, and the romance doesn’t have to end. In fact, a committed relationship is often richer and more meaningful than the flirtation of youthful passion. Relationships with long-term commitments are challenging, but they can also be beautiful.
I hope I don’t sound like an old man who wags a finger and says, “When are your kids getting married?” Everyone’s situation is different. But that’s what I love about Uncharted and its characters. It offers far-fetched stories full of real human moments. Yes, it’s built from tropes developed by Indiana Jones and other adventure series, but it takes those building blocks and puts its own spin on the formula and manages to say something true in the process.
That’s why I want another Uncharted game… well that and they’re fun.