Uncharted 3

1

October 18, 2012 by gunheekid

Phillip Kim

Uncharted 3 is a game that mixes many elements of different genres together; it is an action, adventure, platformer with elements of strategy in it.  Here is a short trailer of what the premise of the game is about:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvpu003drCk

As you can see from the trailer, the game looks very much like a Hollywood movie, with its epic sets pieces, great acting (voice acting in this case), and adrenaline rushing action.  Just as the trailer shows, the game is very much narrative focused (almost like a movie) with the story as the driving and motivate force for the player to continue on in the game.  In my opinion, I feel like the gameplay and ludus of the game complements and creates a better experience of the narrative, which is the center piece and focus of the game.

In the article “In Defense of Cutscenes,” Rune Klevjer mentions arguments that are brought up by radical ludologists (Markku Eskelinen and Espen Aarseths):  “Everything other than the pure game mechanics of a computer game is essentially alien to its true aesthetic form.”   Radical ludologists also claim that stories and narratives are uninteresting ornaments to video games and are used as more of a marketing tool than an essential aspect of a game.  They claim that “the ergodic is the defining discursive mode, not the narrative” and that users are involved as a player, not a reader.

In contrast to what radical ludologists say, Uncharted 3 is a game that is driven by its narrative instead of its gameplay.  In my personal opinion, I found much of the ‘action’ and shooting portion of the gameplay to be very plain, boring and repetitive; if there was no narrative and the game was just a game with constant shooting of bad guys, I would grow tired of the game very quickly.  As I played through the game, I looked forward to the next cutscene and wanted the fighting to end sooner so I could see what would happen next in the story.  The ‘true aesthetic form’ of Uncharted 3 I believe is not in the constant shooting of bad guys but in the enticing storyline and narrative.  After beating the game, the satisfaction that you feel is not from the repetitive shooting of constant waves of identical enemies, but from the story and adventure that you’ve just experienced.

Radical ludologists also doubt the ability of games to integrate filmic narration:  “A game should stick to being a game, in order to avoid being a confusing half-game. Therefore we should not even bother to understand story-based action games as a phenomenon, as they are . . . an artistic failure.”  Most games today use a structure that oscillates between cutscenes and gameplay.  After a segment of gameplay, a cutscene is shown, followed by another segment of gameplay, followed by another cutscene and so on.

Uncharted 3 on the other hand integrates narrative and gameplay very nicely.  Constantly throughout the game while you are exploring ancient ruins and solving puzzles, your character (Nathan Drake) keeps a constant conversation going with his partner (Sully), which reveals crucial information about the story.  So even while you are playing the game, you are still receiving filmic narration from the dialogue.  Also, Uncharted 3 has a very unique style of showing cutscenes.  Many times the cutscenes are interactive; you still have full control over your character during the cutscenes.  You still are still ‘playing’ the game during the cutscenes and receiving filmic narration.  Also the transition from cutscene to gameplay is extremely smooth; the camera just zooms out alittle and you are directly back in the gameplay right after a cinematic.  This is achieved because the visual graphics of the cutscenes and gameplay are exactly the same.

Uncharted 3 is a very narrative focused game, and integrates gameplay and filmic narrative extremely well.  As the trailer showed, the game looks and feels very much like a Hollywood movie with lots of elements of film and movies in it as well; for example, the game even has flashbacks that are playable.  In my opinion, the gameplay comes second to the story and narrative of the game.  Much of the action was extremely boring and repetitive for me and I always looked forward to the next part of the story.  Unlike what radical ludologists like Eskelinen and Aarseth say, Uncharted 3 is a game that has its narrative as its ‘aesthetic form,’ and integrates gameplay and narrative very nicely, unlike other games that strictly follow the cutscene-gameplay oscillation structure.

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One thought on “Uncharted 3

  1. swrig22 says:

    I’m glad somebody decided to do an argument against the “radical” ludologists using a game like Uncharted as a frame – it was the counterexample to all their thoughts on the matter that kept creeping into my mind when I read Juul’s article. Still, I think it might be a little unfair to call Uncharted’s mechanics “plain and boring” – to me, the combination of acrobatics and cover-based shooting was quite exhilarating for most of the game, and the use of different environments and setpieces really helped vary up the content. Personally, I think that ludologists are trying to apply a certain design aesthetic that works very well in certain genres to every video game ever made, and it simply doesn’t work for certain game styles. To me, a game like Uncharted is trying to reenact an Indiana Jones adventure with you as the main character. Of course, whether or not this is a desirable artistic endeavor is a matter of opinion, but trying to make such a game with no cutscenes would be nigh-impossible – as such, the ludologists’ argument against it seems rather square-peg, round-hole, at least to me.

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