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Minor spoilers for the basic structure of Uncharted 1, and for the first Indiana Jones movie

Butch:

Ok, so shoot shoot jump jump. Found out Sully’s alive (stunned, I am STUNNED) and then was crossing a bridge and Elena dropped her camera and that’s where I am.

You know, yeah, ok, themewise there ain’t much going on. After having themeage to the point we could (and did) do 3000 words on a dialog choice I’m ok with a break from that. So my brain has gone off pondering other things.

I mean, this exercise of playing games in order (which I plan to do) is interesting in and of itself. It’s impossible for me to play UC (ND’s first real game) without comparing it in my head to TLOU, which came so long after. It’s going to be interesting to see how they change game to game in how they’re made.

But today I’ll going into the way back machine. This game came out, what, 2007? So it was being developed in 2005 or so? Now, that was a period of time when games were still sort of trying to be “cinematic” (which shows in this game in spades) but were also realizing they can be other things.

Which got me thinking on a feature of this game that has been causing me to ponder since I booted it up: The chapter headings.

The chapter headings are interesting. I mean, they’re SO stylized. They’re really giving the game a feel of being more of a rendering of a comic/novel, or at least reinforce that’s the inspiration. But it’s different in that we often talk about how games pull from cinema, it’s different to see them pulling from print.

What’s funny is I kind of like them. They support the lack of themes. Usually, when I’m getting a little annoyed at the lack of themes, one will crawl its way across the screen as if to remind me “Dude, you’re playing a comic/pulp adventure game! Chill.” And I do, and I remember to enjoy the damn game.

Feminina:

I felt genuinely bad about Elena’s camera. I was more invested in her footage than I am in this giant gold statue. At the same time, I’m totally into the fact that she had enough sense to let it go to save her life, and wasn’t all “noooooooo, I’ll die before I give this up!!!!” because that would have detracted from her general air of being smart and capable. And then Drake probably would have had to physically knock it out of her hand to save her, or something, which would have been obnoxious.

So all in all, nice subtle work with the gender politics there, game.

I agree that the chapter headings are interesting, and an intriguing, obviously intentional way to reference classic print adventure, while other aspects of the game reference classic film adventures. We could see it as a sort of claim that THIS is the medium that pulls everything together: the good stuff from pulp novels and comics, AND from pulp films, together at last! Video games are the future of pulp adventure!

It’s also, given the lack of a really structured narrative, a quick way for the game to let you know that you’re making progress. It may sometimes seem as if you’re just going around and around here, jumping/climbing/shooting/repeating, but in fact you ARE going somewhere. The chapter headings themselves serve as structure and organization for the fairly loose plot.

But mainly, yeah, that feeling of “Ooh, I’m inside a Doc Savage novel!” or whatever.

Butch:

It would have been. I give this game a lot of credit for not being obnoxious. I mean, it’s even playing with the “brooding dude with gun” trope. I mean, sure, the game, the cover art, etc., all very butch/gun/stubble, for sure. But he’s hardly brooding. If anything, he’s the overly emotional basket case. SHE keeps calming HIM down. SHE’S the rock. I mean, pick this game off the shelf, you figure you’re into another brooding dude game, and, it….kinda isn’t….in a good way.

Game is good. We’ve been spoiled by themes. This game still has a lot going for it.

Future of pulp adventure…Could be. Though really, if you look at the granddaddy of UC/TR, I speak of Indiana Jones, that did some similar stuff in the title sequences/posters. I mean, that whole “Raiders of the Lost Ark” script, the very title, was supposed to be a recall to the pulp comics of yore.

(It is true that, even though we talk of the similarities between this and TR, Indiana is looking upon this saying “bitch please….”)

True on the indicating of progress. Even though said headings are less plotty and more like titles of comic books. They’re either ominous places (“The Fortress”) or exciting, one word things like “Trapped!” or “Ambushed!” or “Planewrecked!” They do give a sense of forward, they do.

Which is fine. I really am enjoying this game. I mean, there hasn’t been any “slog” feeling yet. Really. Or reaper moments. It’s moving nicely, nothing’s too long, it’s exciting. Not everything has to be all deep and stuff.

Feminina:

Yeah. Non-deep is fine. I mean, I wouldn’t want to ONLY ever play this game, but as one among a number of game options? Fantastic. And, as we keep saying, such a nice change of pace from moody games with crushing ethical decisions (not that I don’t love that too).

And it’s true, Drake’s a nice variation on the standard stubbly-manhero…he’s got some of that going on for sure, but in a sort of self-conscious way and with a much stronger tendency to yelp or freak out a bit when something goes wrong, than to merely grunt in a manly way and overcome the challenge. I mean, he’s obviously really good at climbing and jumping and shooting and all that, but the way he moves, and sometimes doesn’t quite nail a jump so he winds up having to flail and grab…it makes him more personable and more like someone who actually has human feelings about things like nearly falling to your death, or whatever.

He’s not completely the strong, silent, ultrabutch guy.

Butch:

One must kick back from time to time. This is especially true seeing as the games I’m currently playing with kids (the recently completed and excellent Broken Age, and the excellent but harder than fuck The Witness) are both very theme heavy.

He’s not the strong silent guy, which is even cooler cuz you expect him to be.

Not lost on one that this game was written/directed by a woman.

But then, we shall see where the story arc goes. I’m into it enough to play the next one. Especially as it seems this one’s pretty short. I mean, what, a week and a half and I’m 60% done? Plus, is that 60% until the end or 60% until the end and you’ve collected every treasure etc? We may be even closer than %60 done.

Feminina:

Yeah, and in terms of gameplay it’s SO MUCH like Assassin’s Creed in so many of the mechanics (jumping, climbing), and in the broad outline even the strong manly hero is very AC, but then you actually hang out with Drake and he’s a lot more like an average guy who happens to be really good at climbing/jumping/shooting, than he is like a suave, unflappable assassin.

A bit more relateable, I suppose, the better to give that impression of “I’m inside a pulp novel/comic/movie!” Because if I actually were, I would NOT be a suave, unflappable assassin.

Indiana Jones himself is maybe a sort of middle ground in this area…he’s not unflappable, being played by the eternally disgruntled Harrison Ford with plenty of concern for his own life, but he IS pretty much a stubbly manhero.

Butch:

Indeed. And also stealing some from Indiana Jones, who spent half that movie getting his ass kicked, losing the girl, and being tied up while spirits did his work of killing the baddies (SPOILER!).

It’s funny, cuz in the whole Drake/Lara Croft/Indy, the most badass/brooding one was the original 90s Angelina Jolie Lara Croft. Indeed, the webs got annoyed at the reboot for taking her badassery away.

I kinda hope they keep this flappable aspect of Drake. I’ve been trying to avoid too much UC4 hype, as I try to avoid watching too much gameplay etc of a game I’m likely to play (and hype+Naughty Dog+so far liking this game means I am likely to play it at some point), but it does seem darker/broodier. Also note, Amy Henning did NOT have anything to do with four, as she’s off spending EA’s money on star wars. Four is from Neil Druckman and Bruce Staley, who’s names’ I am likely misspelling, they of TLOU fame, who are a) dark, b) prone to brooding dudes and c) men themselves.

We shall see.

Feminina:

Also, so true that the original Lara Croft was kind of the manliest, most unemotional, unflappable hero of all. I hope the next game has her returning to form. Communicating solely in stern grunts, her face basically expressionless at all times…

I do hope they don’t do that to Drake, though. He’s not Joel, guys! NOT. JOEL.

Butch:

But Lara Croft was in playboy. For real.

The lead dev on the TR reboot was also male. (Noah Hughes.)

But no, Drake isn’t Joel. Not that Joel is bad, but I completely agree. He is NOT JOEL.

But are you with me that the rest of UC seems to be worth playing?

Feminina:

No, Joel’s not bad (I mean, he’s kind of a bad person, but not a bad character), but he’s WAY not Drake. I don’t want to see Drake all embittered and brooding. Unless, I suppose, he naturally winds up that way over the course of a multi-game character arc…I mean, if they did it well I suppose I could tolerate it.

And yeah, I like Uncharted enough to play the next one. It’s got a good fast-paced, short-and-sweet thing going that I’m enjoying. Nothing too dense or complicated, just stuff that’s going to be reliably fun (and if it gradually becomes more complicated as time goes on? I could get into that too). I’m liking the balance of play…the shooting battles aren’t SO huge that you spend hours on them, and then when you’re done you tend to get a break to wander around and explore, then a bit to climb around, then maybe another fight, then a little puzzle, then you putter sedately along on a jet ski…a good mix of stuff.

And I really did think the Uncharted they did for it was about the best use of the Vita I’ve played, which makes me feel kindly towards the original versions as well.

Butch:

Yeah, I could tolerate that character arc, but I kinda hope he doesn’t. We shall see, though. He certainly looks older in the promo stuff for four. Grey around the temples, so that puts him at 25, 26 years old. Like me.

Also in this game’s favor, I haven’t come across a bit yet where it’s a good half hour, forty minutes between save points. You can pretty much put it down whenever, which is nice. I felt, sometimes, in TR that it for fucking EVER to see that little autosave icon. This will be handy when you have smaller chunks of time.

By the way, one thing that sorta bugs me is the lack of an autosave icon. I don’t have one, do you? There have been a couple of times when I’ve nervously wondered “Can I stop here?” I mean, sometimes it’s obvious, like the start of a chapter, but sometimes less so.

As for the Vita, this I shall never know.

Feminina:

Very true, they’re quite good with the save points (aside from the occasional “damn it, I have to do that whole climby thing again when it’s only that one ledge I keep messing up on?”). I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with just turning it off anytime I’m not actually in mid-combat/climbing sequence and trusting that I’ll load up basically where I left off. But now that you mention it, I’m not sure I do have an actual save icon. I seem to recall it saying “do not turn off when something-or-other is flashing”…? But I can’t remember what is supposed to be flashing, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it do so.

Butch:

I certainly have no icon. Which is odd in this day and age. Did save icons appear all over the place in the PS3 days? I mean, we PCers never had autosave, so I never noticed a change.

Feminina:

Usually some game-related symbol would pop up in the corner of the screen to let you know when it’s saving, yeah. And even here with Uncharted, I have the circling gold coin as the load symbol…kind of funny they don’t just toss that up as a save marker as well, but I don’t recall seeing it.

Although a lot of times when it’s loading/saving a new point, the machine will kind of spin up a bit so I can hear it working, which is not EXACTLY a perfect substitute since it suggests the console may overheat at any moment, but is slightly reassuring in that at least I know it’s getting that critical progress on file.

Butch:

Yeah! Ok. So it’s not just the remaster.

Hey, no sympathy on the loud machine. I have the loudest PS4 ever, remember? For some reason the Institute made it practically take off. Another reason to consider the PS4.5 or whatever. Potentially quieter. And less scary.

Just make sure you get that auto upload to PS+. Makes me more sanguine about a possible overheat.

Feminina:

I think of your noisy PS4 every time my PS3 gives that little whirring “chunk chunk chunk” noise. You must have gotten one with a weak gear or something…ours is still quiet as a mouse. But yeah, good reason to upgrade. Embrace it!

Butch:

I have heard that some early PS4s just had loud fans. What’s odd is it doesn’t seem to have fuck all to do with heat. Sometimes it gets damn loud and I sort of nervously feel it, and it’s never all that warm. Certainly nothing to worry about. Sometimes it’s not warm at all, and there’s the fan, blasting away.

I mean, as games get more advanced, it’s probably going to get worse. Might as well upgrade. Just survive until the 4.5 is out, machine.

Feminina:

Upgrade! If it’s not actually overheating, it’ll probably be fine until then? I have a space heater with a weirdly loud fan (abnormally so, since this is the second of that model I bought, after O’Jr. stuck a toy light saber into the depths of the first one), and it works OK, it’s just…noisy.

Man, it has to last, though. If it fails before the 4.5 is out, that’s a disaster…because do you just not play anything until then? Or do you replace it with another 4 for several months?

HORROR. It doesn’t bear thinking on.

Butch:

Hey, we former PC dudes have a pathological fear of heat. So I check it often. When a machine is about to die, it get HOT. I mean, it has to get up to about 85 C or so to be a threat to the components. That’s hot. Mine has not gotten hot. Plus, the PS has, like any good machine, a cut off. When it gets to a certain (hot) temp, it shuts itself off, the light turns red, and it calms down before it melts its motherboard. So it’s not going to kill itself, but I don’t want my game sessions to be cut off by a red light.

It hasn’t come to that. Lets hope it doesn’t.

But if it does, oh I replace it. That’s not even a choice, man. Like that day. I have thought on it. And the answer presented itself very quickly.

Mrs. McP’s getting a raise. It’s cool.

Feminina:

Whew! OK, glad you have a plan in place that doesn’t involve not playing video games.

We have several Uncharteds to finish, after all.

But that’s good that it doesn’t actually get hot enough to do damage. An annoying but not dangerous quirk can be tolerated until the upgrade is available. Just be sure to complain about it frequently to make sure everyone knows you NEED the upgrade. You don’t want anyone deciding to buy you 200 pairs of socks or something instead.

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