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Discuss: Uncharted 2 Is Disgusting
by Chris Hawke

Damn, do I love Uncharted. It's like some wonderful, God-given genius took those brilliant and (in retrospect) pretty creepy Willard Price books and made them playable. Action, adventure, shootouts and standoffs; hidden treasures deep in secluded jungles, marvellous puzzles epic in scale, Arctic caves filled with dangerous monsters, beautiful damsels in distress and fiendish villains out for vengeance. Gaming doesn't get much better than swinging from ancient ropes to crumbling ruins, the thrill of the unexplored pushing you forward.

Except, Uncharted 2 disgusts me. The gameplay is sheer awesome, no doubt about it. It can get testing when the same old shotgun-totting bad guy takes four clips to finally bring down, but it's a speck in a snow-covered plain of excellency. No: the trouble lies with the plot. Most notably, a somewhat celebrated 'hero' by the name of...

Drake. Nathan Drake.

"But he's so charming!" Fans swoon and weaken at the knees as they gaze upon his gel-ridden hair and five o'clock shadow. He's got all the trappings of a modern day American Bond - the witty comments, the boyish charm, the sexual appeal and the acrobatic prowess of a dastardly, attractive mountain goat. How can anyone possibly hate him?


He's a mass-murdering butcher.

"Kitty got wet!" he triumphantly boasts, as he throws a man two hundred feet from a clifftop to be dashed on the rocks below. That man had a family. Judith, his loving wife, and their beautiful baby daughter (Gertrude) were expecting him home in just a few weeks. He had a life; he was full of cares and dreams, hopes and ambitions. He only joined the private military to earn money so he could send his child to school - he'd never actually kill anyone! But then, Nathan Drake waltzes along, all skin-tight jeans and smug grin, and pulls him off a ledge to his death. And then makes a funny remark.

What the hell does "kitty got wet" even mean?! Who is the kitty? Why did they get wet? Don't you mean "Man just got thrown off ledge TO HIS DEATH"?

Take one of the first missions: a night-time theft in Istanbul. What jolly japes will Drake and co. get up to this time, gallivanting about the globe? Oh look, it's the mass murder of Turkish innocents! You may laugh, but think about it. Drake wants a map. The map is an a jug-type-thing in Turkey. So, naturally, Nate sneaks in, disables the security systems and kills guards by throwing them off ledges or cracking their necks. Those that he doesn't kill, he gives severe brain damage to by choking them. If someone did that in real life, it would be an immeasurably monstrous act; a selfish desire leading to the murder of several, totally innocent civilians, only doing their job. How is this man a hero? How can any player get behind a character who is perfectly content to cut lives short for his own petty gains?

Not personal enough for you? Then remember Jeff, the quiet yet diligent cameraman for Elena's documentary. He's only in Nepal because this is his job. Who knows; maybe he has a crush on Elena, and is building up the courage to ask her out, or maybe he has a family back home. He's an innocent passenger in the Drake whirlwind. And, of course, he gets shot. In the face. With bullets. One could easily blame Drake for bringing the soldiers to their hiding place, and getting them into the mess in the first place, but let's be kind and forget that. Jeff gets shot. Drake and Elena run away. And, I kid you not, a mere minute later, she asks Drake whether he's OK. 'Nothing that won't heal', he responds. They share a giggle.

Seriously? Jeff literally just died! Are you over it that quickly? Does death not matter to Drake? This morally corrupted and viscously lethal man is meant to be the hero here; he's the one supposed to stand up to evil, protect the good of the people and saving others. Yet all he does is kill, kill, and then makes jokes about killing. At this point in the game, Lazarevic has killed a total of two people. Drake has killed well into the hundreds, possibly thousands. Now, from those figures, who do you think the audience should be routing for?

Take one final, crushing example. The Tibetan village. Remember? You could pet the Yaks, play football with the kids and greet the locals. It was peaceful, pulchritudinous (good word, no?), and idyllic. The people were happy, engaged in simple arable labour. Everyone had a smile on their face.

Then Drake struts in. A quick hike in the mountains later, and the place has burnt to the ground. You even join in the fight, to see your handiwork; dead bodies strewn about the place as mounted guns slice through the harmonious community. Brilliant work, Nathan, leading tanks and soldiers straight into one of the most amazing villages we've ever come across. Thanks for that.

And what is this all for? A secret city, inhabited by blue people. What does Drake do? He kills the blue people and blows up the city. It's just stupid. Nathan Drake has a killcount in the thousands; some innocent, some aggressors. He's led his mortal enemy to the secret city of Shambhala, where Lazarevic becomes semi-invincible. Drake has to kill him, and in doing so destroys the city forever. Drake has come all that way, spilt all that blood, only in order to demolish what he was after.

There was an uproar over the use of the word 'Taliban' in Medal of Honor. People worried that Grand Theft Auto IV might promote violence. Yet no one said a word when Drake started his rampage, teaching people all over the world that 'Hey, it's fine so long as you get what you want in the end! Or destroy it!'. I'm not the sort of person to cry 'Think of the children!' every time someone shoots a gun in gaming, but what baffles me is that Nathan Drake is portrayed as an absolute hero, an idol to the player. I could understand if he were a anti-hero of sorts; one who kills, but for a utilitarian purpose (here's to you, John Marston), but Drake has an unquenchable thirst for blood, and nothing will stop him from killing. Then laughing about it.

Do we want this character as a figurehead of gaming? Celebrated as an invention of narrative genius? Put your thoughts in the comments below, and follow our Twitter for more awesome sauce, every single day.

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- Chris Hawke

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