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Some spoilers for mid-game settings in Uncharted 2, and the location of the Strange Relic. Also a random spoiler for character development in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Butch:

I found the strange relic! It’s….. Kinda strange.

But besides the STRANGE RELIC I got not a whole lot. Shot some dudes in Nepal, Chloe showed up with a rocket launcher, got the “Is that a ceremonial dagger in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” line (No WONDER they praise the writing of this game), called it a day.

I will say this: DAMN this Nepal thing is cool. I mean, I love a good jaunt through ancient shit and mountains and cliffs as much as the next guy, but this urban scene is a) really cool, b) really well done and c) SUCH a change. I can’t remember the last time I played a game in an environment like this, and it’s pretty damn awesome. Especially the way it starts: running from a jeep down an alley. Like “Dude, you are NOT in Borneo anymore.”

Great stuff.

I guess cities are just harder. I mean, the details I have in mine, anyway, are nuts. Trees must be easier.

Also, was nice when Chloe went ahead there, after the temple bit, and I really thought “She’s so gonna betray me, yup, she did, oh, wait….no she didn’t! But will she?” That was cool. And well done. And totally foreseeable cuz after three damn DA games I still feel that way about Morrigan.

Feminina:

You found the Strange Relic?! Damn it. I never saw it. I don’t know if my eyes/attention span is failing, or if the treasures are just damn hard to see on the PS3. Well, I’m not going back for it now.

I didn’t play last night because I was overcome by the need to sort tiny baby clothes (they are so tiny!).

But I asked the midwife and she said we could bring the console and hook it up, so if I wind up getting induced (which apparently always takes longer) I am TOTALLY doing that.

Butch:

It was so odd. It was in the first Nepal Street, chapter called Urban Warfare. Right after you learn the “flip over a sign while hanging” trick, there’s like a crossroads. One way has an alley with an open sewer grate, and nothing else, so of COURSE I go in, because, in video games, you ALWAYS go in an open sewer grate, and I find myself in this little room, with nowhere to go, just flowing sewer water, and a treasure just sitting on a pile of rocks in the middle. “Oh! A treasure!” says I, “How lucky I came down here to this place with nothing else in it,” and, what do you know? It’s the strange relic. Which is just an egg with a bunch of writing stuff on it, which someone probably took hours to decode, which I will not take hours to decode.

But find it I did. Boo-yah.

Oh dude. As someone who has gone through the having a kid when you already have one thing not once but twice, ain’t nothing reminds you how big the kid/s you have have gotten like looking at baby clothes. “He used to fit in THAT? No way.”

Just make sure you have the kid first. Don’t play while in labor. Otherwise you know it’ll be like Midwife: “Ms. Ettien! You have to push! NOW!”
You: “Just….hang on….middle of a cutscene…..should be a save point…any minute…..”

Feminina:

Oh man, I missed the sewer grate. Siiigh.

I did find the Urban Warfare stuff an interesting change of pace from the bits out in the jungle. Picking through the remnants of peoples’ recent, modern lives (mercifully no mangled civilian bodies, we notice) was quite different from picking through the remnants of ancient temples. (On that note, the ‘blacklight’ mechanic where you followed the trails of blood through that underground temple? Interesting and effectively creepy, I thought.)

I felt quite bad for all the people who used to live in these apartments, whose books were strewn all over the floors, etc. It was kind of a good “violence has actual consequences” bit. Granted, it presented this with a very ‘T-rating’ light hand: your actions are still all about the violence, and there are no particular consequences for you, and you don’t actually see other humans experience these consequences, but just seeing a destroyed city where people obviously lived very recently was more emotionally engaging than just tramping through another ancient tunnel. I mean, I love me some ancient tunnels, don’t get me wrong, and the piles of skeletons do remind one that people died there, but…old. A long time ago. The immediacy of the city environment, where recognizable familiar artifacts are everywhere, makes you see your own actions in a different way.

Butch:

Yeah, but in your game, once you found the sewer grate, instead of the thing being right there, blinking like a mighty beacon, you’d have to kill 19 feral ghouls, climb seven ledges and solve a puzzle. So it’s ok.

The urban warfare bit was very cool, and still different from Fallout. I don’t know why, whether it was better graphics or the carnage was more recent or what, but I said yesterday that I hadn’t played a settling like this in a while, and I stand by that despite recently completing FO4. Not sure why.

And you raise an interesting tangent: I wonder why they decided to make this so T. TR didn’t go down that road, and it was more than just the gruesome death bits (remember when we thought poor Sam was about to get burned alive and Lara was all desperately saying “Just look at me…just look at me?” Harrowing.) This game COULD have been M. It’s close. Certainly, Naughty Dog is capable of making a very very good, very very M game (The Last Of Us), so I wonder why they pulled punches with this one.

I mean, it’s so very, very close. Shit, I think in terms of language/smoking/blood/visceral violence it’s more M than Skyrim, which WAS M (still not at all sure why), and it’s at LEAST on par with Mass Effect (which was M), which, sure, had a “sex” scene (with a BEBHBB) that was exactly as sexy as the scene between Nathan and Chloe in his room that we’ve already seen.

I don’t get it.

The blacklight bit was pretty awesome. And it played on the fact you likely played 1. I was, and I bet you were, waiting for a ghouly thing to pop out at any moment. They got in the supernatural creep, or at least the promise and expectation of supernatural creep, only to pull it away. Indeed, it’s Nathan that goes all “AAAAAA” while holding to skeleton to fake Chloe and Sully (and the player) out. Nice touch, being faked out by your own character.

Feminina:

I think in Fallout there was some of that “this happened a long time ago” aspect, that put distance between you and the horror of what you were tramping through. I mean, that horror was definitely there, and there were times when you’d stumble across skeletons with coffee cups in the cafe or whatever and it would hit you that this depicts the horrible death of average people on a massive scale, but for the most part everything was so run down and dingy that you could kind of place it more in the context of “ancient temples” than “now-devastated landscape I could have been going about my day-to-day business in a week ago.”

So true, I was constantly waiting for something to jump on me in that blacklight bit, and it was kind of a cool twist that nothing ever did. And that in fact the only thing that “jumped” was Drake being silly.

As to why it’s rated Teen…money? Just going for the widest possible audience? That focus is also in keeping with the comic book/adventure novel/adventure film theme they’ve got going on, so maybe they felt it just fit better this way with their overall plan for the mood of the series.

Butch:

Must be it. I mean, in my game, there was a bit where the water was still running. This overflowing toilet, just pouring water. It was an interesting counterpoint to the nice, pretty waterfalls in Borneo. It’s effective, I give it that.

Drake being silly is another instance of this game taking, not just adventure tropes, but game tropes and standing them on their heads. Which is good writing.

Also, the rating is the ESRB having its head up its ass. I mean, they’re the ones who rate, not the publishers. And this…. I mean, I’m so used to pretty much everything getting an M if it’s even remotely M that I figured this would be PG at best, so I let the kids watch some of it only to find myself saying “wait, what did he just say? And what’s that and DUDE ok, back to PBS.”

I’d rather have them watch Skyrim.

Feminina:

It’s true, the setting means that the language in Uncharted is very modern, including swearing that you wouldn’t necessarily hear in another setting. But swearing is more OK these days, as long as you’re not TOO creative/constant with it.

Fantasy tends to have made-up swear words or not use them much (what euphemism did DA come up with? I can’t remember), and Fallout…some swearing, but minimal foul language, really. It’s as if swearing is perceived as “real-world” and so the farther a setting is from the ‘real (modern) world’ the more there’s a perceived need to either make up setting-specific foul language, or else to just skip the whole question.

Butch:

Oh, the DA curse is gonna bug me. Look it up.

The Witcher was “ploughing.” Graphic, that.

“I’m always saving your ass.”
“Well, it’s an ass worth saving.”
“That it is.”

Wonderful.

But the violence. This game is bloodier than ME. The ghouly things were just as bad as husks (I HATE husks), the “sex” is pretty even….. I don’t get it. If anything, the “sex” is more mature in this one. I mean, ME had that one rather demure scene. This? I mean, Drake and Chloe sure talk about it. “There’s a hotel.” “Chloe, this isn’t the time.” “It’s the tallest building in the city.” “Oh….” Every third piece of dialog from Sully is about hookers.

I don’t get it.

Feminina:

Oh, I might have been thinking of the Witcher…’ploughing,’ right. Maybe DA didn’t have one.

“It’s a shame to sit on something so pretty.”

I think really with Uncharted it’s more that yeah, they talk about a lot of ‘adult’ stuff, but it’s all vague rather than graphic. Yeah, there’s hookers…but ‘hooker’ itself isn’t a dirty word! Etc.

Plus, this is T for TEEN, you terrible parent. Your TEEN children will know what a hooker is. Clearly, you shouldn’t even be thinking about sharing this game with your pre-teen. I’m calling CPS now.

Butch:

He sure talks about hookers a lot.

And come on! Usually, something is as bad as ads for Marvel movies on during cooking shows and it gets an M. T usually means “Ok for five year olds,” E means “Sorta like Bubble Guppies.” (I just like saying Bubble Guppies. Try it. It’s fun.)

Sheesh. It’s not like my three year old wants me to put two foam swords in the back of his jammie onesie so he can be Geralt.

Often.

Feminina:

Yeah, Sully plays the “lovable scoundrel friend” thing pretty hard. Hookers, wild parties, gambling. The very model of a good time! Which kind of implies that Drake is perhaps not all that much different, although his responses to the hooker talk tend to be a little dismissive in a slightly “some of us don’t NEED to hire hookers” way. Like, it’s all good fun to hire hookers, but if you’re cool enough to be the hero, you’re cool enough to attract legions of women willing to party with you for free.

All very standard, really. For stuff NO CHILD SHOULD EVER WITNESS, YOU MONSTER.

Butch:

If you’re cool enough to get with Morrigan, you don’t need anything else.

I’m not a monster! I’m progressive.

You’re the one naming your newborn after wine.

Feminina:

Wine is classy. It’s only terrible if I name him after cheap beer, or a street drug.

Bud…Miller…”E”…not feeling it.

Butch:

Oh I get it….wine is classy…beer isn’t. Yeesh, that’s a bit classist, isn’t it?

Thought we were progressive, here.

Feminina:

CHEAP beer isn’t. Now your craft beers, they’re classy as hell. I don’t make the rules, man. You know it’s true.

I think “classy” is also inherently a classist concept. My bad.

Butch:

It’s true. You could even go single malt. Name him Laphroig or something. Very hobbit.

MacAllan. Very paladin.

We need to play a game with nudity, quick. Our derailments made more sense.

Feminina:

Or at least were more likely to come up in random internet searches.

Well, we can always discuss the relationships, even if they’re clothed.

As you said, Elena returns at some point. That’s good for a “why did Drake choose so-and-so” chat, once we know…whatever happens with that. Might be a while, though.

Butch:

Well, I’m gonna guess: He’ll choose Elena, and he’ll be wrong. Even with a happy ending, he’ll be wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

1) BHBEBB. 2) Essentially Morrigan. And the last time we had that choice, choosing the “normal” one over the “slightly evil” one led to you being attached to the “Eight ways of fucking crazy” one by the time we got to the end of DA2.

So watch: Elena turns nuts. Just like Leliana. So there.

Feminina:

Ah. I like it. Strong predictions that can be definitively confirmed or disproved by later installments (and/or with fierce argument).

Now, I’m going to have to disagree with you, if only because we know Elena’s in 4 and we don’t know that Chloe ever shows up again after 2. I’m going to guess that after hours of will-she-or-won’t-she-betray him, Chloe will finally betray him, and Elena won’t.

Maybe there will be another woman entirely in 3! Who may or may not betray him.

Butch:

Pfft. Betrayal. I keep telling you, Morrigan may well be completely evil. I don’t care. Lust is blind.

Well, not really. Lust likes Morrigan’s outfit. And Chloe’s. Triss’s dress isn’t bad, either.

But you get what I’m saying.

Feminina:

OK…if lust wants to spend all its time pining over Chloe’s outfit after she betrays Drake, to the point that it sulkily refuses to accept some as-yet-unknown romance option in 3 AND spurns Elena when she comes back, I can’t argue. The…heart or whatever…wants what it wants.

We can still discuss it at length, of course!

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