Articles tagged with uncharted 4

Leap of Faith

Posted by Ben at 13:50

When Uncharted 4 came out I wrote a piece about its disconnect between narrative and gameplay. Itís well-storied so I wonít retell the whole piece here, we all know it. Uncharted suffers from a form of Ludonarrative dissonance, itís practically the poster boy for it. Nathan Drake quipping his way through a blood bath. Joking as he murders countless people just because he wants to steal shit. Not for peace or to save the world, he just wants treasure, and for that heíll snap necks and kick people to their deaths. Really Uncharted should share more tone with Max Payne, but as I said, this is well covered, I should move on

Uncharted The Lost Legacy is kind of a spin-off from Uncharted 4. It started out as lengthy dlc that began to justify a retail release and a higher price, and it does. I finished it last week and itís good. Iím not going to write a full review for it because I donít have time, and itís not the sort of game we usually review, but itís is good. It feels less bloated than Uncharted 4 was, more gamey and light-hearted, but plays down the jokey tone. Actually itís the moments where it plays up to that tone that feel the most out of place, itís not something you associate with Chloe, she always felt more mercenary than Nathan. Teaming Chloe up with Uncharted 4ís Nadine, a hardened soldier, then having them bantz about, it feels like Naughty Dog still a bit afraid of making a Drake-free Uncharted game.

Before I move on, Iím not sure that Naughty Dog have retconned Chloeís nationality, possibly more that they just never dwelt on it before. It does, for those of us who arenít buried deep in Uncharted lore, feel like theyíve tweaked her a bit, but I like it. Iím not ordinarily too keen on characters being altered, just make a new character rather than have them not mention something that is now hugely important for years (like a brother youíre guilt-ridden over for example), but I do feel like theyíve done a decent job with Chloe. Itís also nice to play as someone who isnít another white guy. Iím not against playing as a white guy, I am a white guy, but Iíve been playing games for a very long time and playing something that stands out is a rarity. I want new experiences, new stories, not everyone cares I guess, but Iím bored and am not going to turn my nose up whatever novelty I can get.

Anyway, to the point, finally. Something Uncharted has always been guilty of, and itís far from the only game, Tomb Raider does it too, any number of games do. In Uncharted the characters throw themselves in to the unknown all the time. Iím not quite sure how to condense it in to a single word or phrase, but to explain: Thereís an obstacle, you could tentatively try to puzzle it out, inch your way through it, but instead the solution will be to climb to the top of it, past the point of no return and hope for the best. In Uncharted 4, particularly the Scotland sections, you climbed sheer rock, certain death below you, with no way of getting back if it turns out thereís no convenient footholds beyond a certain point. In Lost Legacy Chloe will swing across gaps with no way of getting back, she never gets stuck, thereís always a way up, over, or under.

I get it, itís a game, itís just jarring. Itís the Deus Ex Machina of platforming. As Iíve said, a lot of Unchartedís problems, the disconnect it suffers from, are due to it trying to make the characters grounded, likable, and human. Them also being bullet sponges, mass-murders, it shines a giant spotlight on it. Same with the climbing, Iím not sure if itís infinite luck or dumb action movie, but it doesnít sit right. The only way I can see to fix it would be to shrink down the environments, rather than climb a mountain you need to get over a fence. Not really that exciting is it?

My other gripe, and itís on a similar track, the people who built these giant elaborate puzzles, why didnít them make them simpler? I can understand the puzzles where youíre really just supposed to rotate something, but the arm has broken or a mirror has shattered, so you need to climb up and move the final piece yourself, thatís not too bad. Thereís a particular puzzle in Lost Legacy though where the solution is to climb up the giant structure, make leaps of faith, and turn some water on. Itís the only way of solving the puzzle. Why did the long dead civilisation make it so difficult? ďTo keep people out!Ē, yeah, sure, how do they get in though? They might know the solution, but they still have to go through all the leaping and climbing

I know both of these complaints are minor, itís just a game, excuse the gamey aspects of it. I know, and fair enough. Why do I need to single Uncharted out for it, Iím not sure, I think it might be the worst for it, or just itís the one that shines a spotlight on it. Maybe itís the series that feels the most like it could move past the gamey side of gaming, it has the budget, Naughty Dog have the talent. Who knows, I donít, but I do feel like, if we get another Uncharted it might be the game to move things on.
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Killing is
Posted by Ben at 02:23

I have written some pretentious and nobby stuff in my life, I try to reign in a lot of it, especially when talking about videogames, but here I am, about to write a think piece about Uncharted 4, Doom, and Spec Ops The Line, which came out years ago.

Spec Ops The Line wasnít a classic game, it was a bit dull, not actually all that much fun to play. It gets lauded, rightly, for what it does in terms of its narrative and the themes it examines. Set in Dubai, you play as Walker, leader of a special forces team sent it to Dubai to check for survivors after a biblical level sandstorm. What you find is that the 33rd, a US Army force sent to help, is in the midst of a civil war with a faction of Dubaiís residents for control of the city. Initially youíre drawn in to conflict with the insurgents, then the 33rd, then the CIA get involved, itís all very confusing. What the game is really about though is choice, Walker could walk away at any time, report back what heís found, instead he descends deeper and deeper in to Dubai, getting more and more blood on his hands as he does

I think Spec Ops The Line was a fascinating game, not so much the greater finger pointing theme of ďyou, player, you always had a choice too! Why didnít you turn the game off?!Ē It was bullshit when Bioshock did it, great twist that it was, and itís bullshit here. Itís thematically interesting, but the player can just shrug ďI carried on playing because itís a gameĒ. Anyway, itís not that I wanted to talk about, itís actually the smaller details, the examinations on the ingrained tropes of video games. You see Iíve been reading ĎKilling is Harmlessí, a long-form criticism of Spec Ops by Brendan Keogh, and it does a really good job of shining a spotlight on some of the nuance of Spec Ops and Walkerís capitulation. Some of it is small things like language and tone changing; rather than calm and clinical as in the early stages, eventually combat is soundtracked by swearing and ferocity. Itís a thought youíre going to have to hold on to because for this point to make sense I need to go back to Uncharted

The Uncharted series has long had its duality used as a criticism. While heís out on his adventures throwing out quips, Drake is also killing hundreds and hundreds of people. Rarely is he actually defending himself from harm, heís putting himself in harmís way, he could just walk away. Early on in Uncharted 2 Drake is handed a tranquiliser gun because of his reticence to kill people. 10 minutes later he pulls a guy off a roof to his death while Drakeís partner jokes about it. You never get the impression Drake, nor Uncharted itself, cares about these deaths, they donít stay with him. At least in Gears of War youíre at war with leathery monsters, in Uncharted youíre gunning down people hired to stop people like you from stealing shit.

Uncharted is what Uncharted is, and with Uncharted 4 it feels like Naughty Dog have tried to address it. For the first couple of hours gunplay is fairly minimal, and when it does occur itís not Nate behind the trigger, initially at least. Smart, especially how they pitch Nate once we get up to present day. Even when it does kick off youíre encouraged to be stealthy, thereís tall grass to hide in and take people down, and a lengthy section where youíre in combat but trying to remain unseen. Apart from a guy I pulled from a roof to his death, I think without any sort of joke this time, I just chose not to kill people. That doesnít last long though, eventually youíre back to killing people for trying to stop you from stealing stuff. The juxtaposition of the gunplay and tone of Uncharted is kind of redundant, as I said, Uncharted is what Uncharted is, what actually gave me pause for thought was a little more hands on.

Thereís a point in Spec Ops: The Line, something that Killing is Harmless focused on, where Walkerís melee takedowns have gone from knocking people out to beating a man so hard and so often he caves in his skull. Itís brutal and unnecessary. Thereís a point in Uncharted 4 where Drake lands one or two punches too many during his own melee takedown that reminded me of that scene. Similarly, after a while, it dawned on me that all those stealth attacks, the ones where Iíd been choking people out to put them to sleep, were accompanied by a Ďsnappingí sound. Now, maybe thatís just their eyes shutting so fast that you can actually hear it, but I think, think, that Drake might be snapping their necks for no reason other than brevity. That realisation struck me, in amongst this gun fight, when people are clearing away the corpses, it turns out someone, rather than cleanly shoot his enemies, was lurking in the grass to snap their necks. Itís terrifying and ferocious

There were points, and this is where I get a bit nobby, early on in Uncharted 4 where I started to wonder if I was done with games like this. Not with video game levels of killing, I played through Space Marine again the other week, more the violence without consequence. I wondered if my brain had been engaged too much to just turn it off again, if Uncharted was doomed because in every other way it feels more human than most other popcorn blockbusters. That the grounding put it place to make Drake feel human, a likable everyman surrounded by likable people like you, a man who can return home to a normal job with a studious wife, a happy, normal life, whether that extra connection to reality compared to something like Space Marine, means that it doesnít have as much room to just be a video game.

Fortunately it seems not, but I think we may be reaching the point where games like Uncharted have to solve their contradiction of violence and personality. I want to stress, itís not the violence itself thatís the issue. Iíve been playing Doom alongside Uncharted 4 and I love it, it may well end up being my game of the year. I love it for the absolute nonsense of it. Thereís a moment early on where the narrative is being set and Doom guy literally tosses it away, he, and you, donít need it. I donít want every game to be like Doom, Doomís refreshing because of what itís not, but it does highlight why the (I got this far without using it) ludonarrative dissonance caused by chatty nice drake ruthlessly breaking the necks of people who donít know heís there is a problem but Stevie Space Marine (actually called Titus) and Doom Guy killing monsters, orcs and the corrupted isnít. To borrow a term from Killing is Harmless, those enemies are never anything more than Ďothersí, theyíre never anything more than targets, the very thing that makes Uncharted stand out adds a dimension to the world that raises an eyebrow. Not everyone will care, but I think weíre starting to see this problem get addressed, either weíll have better justifications for the violence, ways around it, or weíll have more things like Doom
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Uncharted 4
A Thief's End
Posted by Ben at 07:39

I managed to get an early copy so let's take a look at Uncharted 4 A Thief's End. I'm a few chapters in, deliberately so, so as not to spoil too much of the early story stuff. I think it's chapter 6, so not too far in but the story has started to get going, just bear that in mind if you don't want anything spoilt

Some early impressions then, it's good. I'm not going to make any crazy declarations about it being the "best Uncharted ever!", but the last two I played were Uncharted 3 and the Vita Uncharted, neither of which landed with me, and it's certainly better than those so far.

The multiplayer beta we took a look at suggested that the gun play had improved, and sure enough the shooting is much better. I think the frame rate plays a large part in that, it's smooth, for the first time since the first game arguably. Uncharted 3 was terrible in combat, maybe terrible is a bit far, but certainly the jerky movement made lining up shots more frustrating than it needed to be. Melee combat is also improved, Uncharted 3 placed a large focus on it and lessons have been learnt from that game. early on at least it's quicker, snappier, less of a drag to get involved in, meaning less time getting shot in the back while you're locked in a fight

Anyway, there's a video below

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Uncharted 4
Multiplayer Beta
Posted by Ben at 05:58

Ok, so if you have a PS4 and PS+, and you've any interest in Uncharted, AND you weren't roped in to spending Mother's Day weekend at your parents, then you probably played some of the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta for yourself.

If you did the you probably had a good time, because it does indeed seem to be pretty good. I say in the video at one point that I'd never tried Uncharted multiplayer, that's actually not true, I did when Uncharted 3 came out. The maps here feel like you're pushed to move more, there's less cases of picking a spot and holding up, which you can do, but it's not a great idea

There's only 2 stages in the beta, that I saw at least, with the town level, featured in this video being the pick. It's less colourful, less interesting, but also less clumsy and a little tighter. The jungle level isn't without its charms though, it feels like a bigger space, and certainly has more tricks up its sleeve.

If you haven't played the beta then take a look at our video. You can see the potential for some good moments, certainly I've had fun with it

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