My Ongoing Affair with Nathan Drake

As usual, I’m going to start a post by talking about something only tangentially related. After falling for and having my heart broken by Alistair Theirin (Dragon Age: Origins) I actually came to quite like his character—as a friend. Always a friend. In fact, my favourite relationship with him was as the brother from another mother for my Warden, Aedan Cousland. I went on to write something like 600 thousand words of fan fiction after the game, most of which included their extremely close friendship. A large part of my affection for Alistair’s character stemmed from his dialogue and the note-perfect voice acting of Steve Valentine.

Because I’m something of a geek, when I find something I like, I look it up and see what’s related. Other things I can play, watch, read, experience. I do this for video game writers, directors, actors and voice actors, and authors. It’s how I find a lot of my favourites. So I looked up Steve Valentine and discovered he voiced a character in the game Uncharted. Naturally, I wanted to play this game. But I didn’t own a PlayStation 3. I had an Xbox 360. So, basically, I was S.O.L. (My budget didn’t extend to two consoles of the “same generation.”)

When the PlayStation 4 released, I started haunting the developer page for the Uncharted series because I’d heard that of all the games they might remaster for the PS4, Uncharted was near the top of the list. We’d put off buying a PS4 for a couple of years for stupidly practical reasons: I have about thirty un-played games on Steam and a drawer full of unfinished games for the Xbox. But when Uncharted 1-3 were remastered, my resolve crumbled. Also, I wanted to play The Last of Us and J wanted to play Horizon: Zero Dawn and so it was an easy sell. We bought a console… and left it in the box. Yep. I was told I couldn’t unwrap and play it until Christmas Day (2016). I finally convinced J to set it up a couple days early (in case we needed extra cables :D) and Christmas dawned over me on the couch, controller in hand.

Man, was it worth the wait. I LOVED Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It started with a bang and kept me entertained with a combination of jumping puzzles, shooting alleys, witty banter, romance, and adventure. Nate quickly moved to the top of my list of virtual boyfriends, Sully not far behind. Although I got frustrated from time to time during the harder missions, I never lost patience with the game. The hints and abundance of resources kept me going and I reached the end with a fantastic sense of satisfaction. I’d played a great game.

I cued up the second and immediately got down to it. I liked Among Thieves a lot. The start is brilliant and I adored the environments. I liked the plot twists and the shifting character alignments. I liked Steve Valentine as Harry Flynn. It was neat to hear him as someone else. Of course, by then I was in love with all things Nate, so he couldn’t compete fairly for my affections. Also, he’s a lying, cheating… Ahem. Overall, I preferred the story of the first game. The second one was good, but not quite as absorbing, for me. Not sure why.

My favourite so far, though, is the third game, Drake’s Deception. Putting aside the fact they’re once again investigating a secret long buried because it could mean the end of civilization as we know it, the story here felt fresh and original and I think that had a lot to do with the glance back and Nate and Sully’s origins. How they met, how they began working together. Also, they’re reunited with Elena about halfway along and, well… <spoilers>. I think the pivotal point here, though, is that Nate grows so much as a character. He and Sully both. This game truly felt like a journey on all levels and I was even a little misty-eyed at some points. (Maybe a bit more than misty-eyed.) It was just such a solid story. I loved it.

If the series were to end here, I’d be satisfied. But there is another game (outside of expansions), Uncharted 4: Thief’s End. I kinda do and don’t want to play this. The title has me a little scared. I don’t think for a minute they’d kill Nate, but Sully’s getting on. Also, I sort of like the idea of Nate continuing to adventure, whether I’m tagging along or not. So I hope the title is more metaphorical than, er, prophetic. We’ll see! I put it on my Christmas list (along with Call of Duty: WWII because I HAVE to play that game—speaking of which, I really need to do a COD post one of these days…) so we’ll see what I have to say about it in 2018!

To wrap up, a list, in no particular order, of my favourite things about the Uncharted series:

  1. Nate. He’s a pretty package, and so much more. He’s smart. He’s also adorably clueless at times. He’s funny, loyal, brave, and nice. He’s driven, but learns when to step back. He’s probably not great boyfriend material, but that could just be a phase. He matures a lot in Drake’s Deception.
  2. Nate (I promise he won’t be number 3)
  3. N—Sully. Sully is your favourite uncle. He’s also all the family Nate needs.
  4. Elena. Smart, kick-ass, and a proverbial amount of patience.
  5. Okay, in the interest of saving time, we’ll just say I love all the recurring characters. They’re not particularly complicated, which in my opinion works. This is an adventure game, not a sweeping saga. We know enough to care.
  6. The stories.
  7. The adventure. What I mean here is the ride we take while working our way through the story. The way the game is scripted for the player. You’re there in so many ways and sometimes the cut scenes are so seamlessly integrated I either kept mashing buttons, or wasn’t quick enough to save myself.
  8. Endless ammo. If you run out, strangle someone and take their gun. You’re not going to run out very often and strangling is fun, so…
  9. The fact that wherever you go, there are endless numbers of bad guys. Seriously, they bring these guys in on troop carriers. They are EVERYWHERE. And they’re so fun to sneak up on, jump on, shoot and, er, strangle. There is nothing more stress relieving than turning on the PlayStation, picking up a Mossberg, and blowing holes in bad guys. I love shotguns. They’re pretty much my favourite video game weapon. Accuracy doesn’t matter when it comes to a shotgun. You just have to run, screaming, into the fray, and fire.
  10. The weapons. Like the bad guys, they’re everywhere. Neat fact: if you’re going to need a gun for something, it’ll be propped up beside a wall right about where you’ll need it. I love this. For as much as I enjoyed the scarcity of resources in The Last of Us, I loved the abundance of Uncharted. This is a lighthearted game. It’s not the game where you have to stress about how much ammo you have. Likewise, you can tell what’s coming by what’s waiting for you. Dragon Sniper? Some idiot is going to be taking pot shots at you with a big boomy thing from across the other side of the map. RPG? Look for the tank or helicopter or something that needs to be blown up.
  11. The script. The banter is fun, and conversation is never wasted.
  12. Nate. I just love him and look forward to spending time with him again soon.

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