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This Is The End(ing) 3.05.12: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Posted by Gavin Napier on 03.05.2012





Welcome back to This Is The End(ing). We've officially moved out of the Silent Hill district and away from survival horror in general and into something a little more recent. We'll be digging into the Uncharted series this week, which is a pretty drastic change of pace from last month's fare. Pretty straightforward stuff on the endings, as we've got three games and three endings to dig into. Not a lot of interpretation with them like there was with Silent Hill, as Uncharted 3 is more about telling a straightforward story and less about interpreting the results of psychological trauma. First up, mail call!

Player 1, meet the NPC's

The cleverly named Guest#9749 leads off with a suggestion for a future Hall of Shame inductee. Reptile's ending in MK4 MUST be inducted into the hall of shame. After fighting your way through all those other guys, your reward is... Reptile getting betrayed and killed by Shinnok? You want to talk about a gut punch...

Not a bad suggestion, but at some point there's probably going to be an examination of the good, bad, and ugly endings of games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Twisted Metal Black that feature casts of characters who each have their individual endings. There's a finite amount of games out there, and things like that will help me keep this gimmick going a little longer. Plus, I actually like playing those games so it'll give me an excuse to beat them with some new characters.

Next up, I got tag teamed...er..double tea...forget it. Two people took issue with last week's Hall of Shame induction. From DeimosMasque: To be fair the Ending you listed for Simon's Quest is the "bad" ending there is a good ending too.

And from JWestmoreland: I don't understand all the flack Castlevania 2 gets. I had and still have this game and it's pretty good. Also, what you're talking about isn't the good ending. Plus, seriously? How many NES games had amazing endings?

Fair enough. There is a good ending to Castlevania 2, but the bad ending is just so...so disappointing. Including a game in the Hall of Shame for endings isn't a commentary on the game itself, though. If the game itself is bad, I'll say so, but sometimes good games have bad endings. It's also true that not a lot of NES games had what you would call great endings, but some were certainly worse than others. I won't dwell in the 8 bit realm every week; my intention is to keep cycling through all of the generations of gaming to keep things balanced.

I will, however, leave a decision up to the readers of this fine piece of literary work. Should the "bad" ending for games with multiple endings be eligible for the Hall of Shame? Leave an answer in the comments section, and I'll abide by the decision of the masses.


Keeping Democracy Alive.


Steve B reflects fondly on Silent Hill. I gave up gaming for a while and when I returned to it I bought this game purely because a friend said he'd heard that Silent Hill was "like Resident Evil, but better". I've played 1 and 2 since then but this is still the best one for me. And "You're not here" is one of the best game theme tunes I've heard.

The soundtracks for Silent Hill are phenomenal. The experiences as a whole make them worth turning off the lights and suffering through the creepiness. My personal favorite of the series has been 2, but 3 is also high quality. I think the comparison between Resident Evil and Silent Hill is best shown by the difference in a horror flick by Rob Zombie and one by Guillermo del Toro. Rob Zombie works off of shock, loud noises, and gore, and so does Resident Evil, especially in the early games of the series. This isn't a bad thing. Resident Evil games are good, even if Rob Zombie's movies aren't. But much like The Orphanage and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Silent Hill works in rare moments of shock and things popping out at you, but concentrates much more on atmosphere and building a world around you that makes your skin crawl. That's a heck of a way to get back into games, sir.

And finally, I screwed up. This should be no surprise to anybody that read my Ask 411 Wrestling column a few years ago. Andrew pointed it out for me. At least he was nice about it. the HD collection is 2&3 only, it does not include the first one, unfortunately.

I goofed. I really thought it was all three. Shame on me. This is disappointing news, but I maintain that all three, including the original, are still worth going back and playing.

And now, hoping to live up to the high standard set for sequels by films like Grease 2, Caddyshack 2, and Godfather III, it's time for

This Is The End(ing) 2-1: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune



Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was released for Playstation 3 on November 16, 2007 by Naughty Dog and Sony. It's a platforming, puzzle, and action game, combining the best elements from Mega Man, Myst, and Syphon Filter. Or, you could call it Tomb Raider with dudes. At any rate, the game is fantastic and is one of the absolute must haves in the Playstation 3's often ridiculed library of games. It scored an 88 out of 100 on Metacritic, a 4.5 of 5 on GameSpy, and a 9.1 out of 10 on IGN. Kotaku and IGN both named it the PS3 Game of the Year for 2007, and IGN named it Best Action Game overall for the same year. It took only ten weeks to sell a million copies, and by 2009 had sold 3.5 million copies. If I had more recent numbers, I'd share them with you. If you haven't picked up on what I'm getting at here, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is really, really good.

There were some graphics and gameplay issues upon release, but they were resolved in the two sequels. I have yet to play the Golden Abyss game for the Playstation Vita, but I feel pretty confident that if Sony was willing to use it as a launch game for their new handheld, it's going to live up to the expectations the series has fostered. Speaking purely as a fan here, and not as some impartial game reviewer/analyst/commentator, the Uncharted series has by far the best voice acting I've ever heard in a video game. Every performance is absolutely flawless and feels like it belongs. More importantly, it's seamless. Both dialogue and delivery are top notch, movie quality performances. Yes, there are occasional hokey moments, but those exist in flicks like Indiana Jones (more on that later) and on television shows like NCIS. Overall, you will not find better voice acting than you get in the Uncharted series, and it's a big part of what makes the games so enjoyable.

Naughty Dog took great care in developing this game, working on it for over 2 years. They tinkered and toyed with different things before coming up with a game that they felt would both stand out and appeal to what gamers were familiar with. A lush, colorful environment that featured a relatable, everyman hero and great platforming was the winning combination. They believed in the project enough to pass on making a new Jak and Daxter game, and the result was this gem that's turned into one of the staple franchises for the Playstation family. It stands to reason that if I'm reviewing games that I've beaten personally, that I liked the games. Uncharted isn't an exception to that rule. This game and this series rate among my favorite games of all time. If you haven't played them, they get my highest recommendation possible.

Okay, enough of the gushing and love letter to Uncharted-ing.

This is the part where I remind you that this column, by nature, involves spoilers. I'm talking about the ending of games. This week, I happen to be talking about the ending of a game that's almost 10 years old, and as such it probably won't upset many people. In the near future, I'm going to be talking about games that are much more recent. If you read this column, then complain that things have been spoiled for you, I hope that you pay 8 dollars for popcorn at the movies and spill it as soon as you step inside the theater. With that said...


See what I did there? New section, new picture. And you thought I was just a one trick pony.


Plot


In Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, you play the role of Nathan Drake. As the game opens, Nate is pulling the coffin of famed explorer Sir Francis Drake from the ocean floor. He found the coffin using a ring that he supposedly inherited from his family, as he is a descendant of said explorer. The ring contained coordinates, Nate followed them, found the coffin. The whole journey has been funded by Elena Fisher, a telejournalist looking for her big break. As Nate hauls the coffin up and breaks into it, they find the tomb empty save for a diary left behind by Drake, remarkably well preserved. Before they can enjoy it, though, they're attacked by pirates. The kind that Navy SEAL units kill today, not the awesome peg legged and parrot carrying type. Drake's close friend Victor "Sully" Sullivan rescues them, and the adventure has begun.

Once the three make it back to shore, they inspect the journal and find that it points them towards "El Dorado", the fabled City of Gold. Nate and Sully make the logical decision to ditch the dead weight that is Elena and take off towards the Amazon. Their run through the jungle brings them across the ruins of ancient civilizations, a German U-Boat, some guys that have been pretty horrifically mauled, and evidence that El Dorado is a statue and not a city.

Side note: Part of what makes Uncharted so enjoyable for me, as a relatively intelligent adult, is their ability to put new, unique spins on old legends and make them make sense.

They find evidence that the statue has probably been taken to an island that's not so easy to get to, but before they can really make any further progress, they find themselves accosted by competitive treasure hunter Gabriel Roman. If competitive treasure hunting were an event in the X Games, I'd be much more likely to watch. Just saying. Sully owes Roman some serious cash, and let "slip" that he and Nate may be on to something big. Nate refuses to cooperate, which leads to Sully being shot and presumably killed in the jungles of South America. Then a U-Boat explodes and creates a diversion for Nate and Elena to escape, and Sully isn't dead after all. This is a recurring theme.


Not actual gameplay footage.


The pair flies off to a remote Pacific island in search of treasure, but things don't go according to plan there. Nate has a run in with an old rival of his, Eddy Raja, and gets bailed out by Elena. Elena spots the "I thought you were dead" Sully working with Roman and his top general, which definitely plants seeds of mistrust as you're playing the game. I waited for this bastard to double cross me permanently the entire game. While on the island, Nate and Elena platform their way through mazes and hazards and encounter various difficulties. Elena loses her camera, and it's revealed that Eddy is both working for Roman and believes that the island is cursed. Oh, and they rescue Sully, who reveals that Nate's diary saved him by stopping the bullet and he was just playing along with Roman to stay alive.

Traveling on, Nate and Elena find the body of Sir Francis Drake, who apparently died searching for the treasure. Nate is deflated by this discovery and leaves his prized ring behind with the body of Francis Drake. You know, because he needs it after being dead for a few centuries. They meet up with Eddy again here, who is running for his life from some interesting creatures that aren't quite human. I'm willing to bet this was the curse he was talking about. Nate makes it out alive, Eddy does not. Nate and Elena take refuge in a German submarine base, and Nate's ensuing exploration reveals why we keep running into Nazi stuff here in the South Pacific. The Germans were seeking El Dorado during World War II to use as a weapon because of Hitler's fascination with mystical artifacts (again, legitimate history gets woven into the Uncharted games).

Elena gets taken captive by Roman because she's a silly goose, and so Nate has to save her while searching for treasure. He runs into Roman and Navarro, who have found the statue. Roman cracks it open despite everyone's protests, and inhales the cursed dust that transforms him into one of the creatures. Roman is killed and the final boss battle turns out to be with Navarro. Defeat Navarro and his pirates in a hectic battle and you've beaten the game.

This is the ending

First, the boss battle with Navarro:



Man, I struggled with that final battle. Frustrating, and rewarding when I finally made it through. Just as boss battles should be. Here's the actual ending:

<


Sorry for doubling up on a little bit of the footage there, but that was the only HD ending I could find on YouTube that didn't have awful unnecessary commentary attached to it. As you can see, the game does an excellent job of character development between Nate, Elena, and Sullivan (who doesn't double cross you, after all) and sets up the sequel nicely. Uncharted was one of the most rewarding gaming experiences I've had since I blew up Hitler playing Bionic Commando for NES. Unlike Silent Hill, there aren't multiple endings here, and you don't have to do anything special to get the ending. Just beat the game. There are varying trophies depending on the difficulty level you played on, but that's all the variation you get. And that's okay.

Uncharted is one of two properties that really inherits the spirit of Indiana Jones. The first was the original The Mummy movie with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, but that got ruined in the sequel. Uncharted has done a much more admirable job of carrying the torch of having an intelligent everyman struggle through impossible situations with a friend and a dame in search of historical artifacts which are always a little more trouble than expected. After having Indy go sour on us in the 4th movie that I refuse to mention by name, Uncharted is a breath of fresh air for us children of the 80's that still remember the better parts of the Indiana Jones franchise. A film based on this game has been in development for years, with names like Nathan Fillion, Mark Wahlberg, and Bruce Campbell attached to it at various points. Here's hoping it sees the light of day. They finally have a solid director, Neil Burger, for the film, which is a good sign. Burger wrote and directed 2006's The Illusionist, which gives me some hope that the film will be good.

One Last Thing...

This week's inductee into the "Another Castle Hall of Shame" is Fable .

Peter Molyneaux's open world creation is one of the more divisive games and franchises in history. It seems to be either loved or hated. The dynamic and intent of the game was fantastic. You make choices and the choices have ramifications. Good, evil, middling. I enjoyed the game, even if the boss battle was entirely underwhelming. However, the game required a pretty good investment of time on XBox, and for something this big (even if it was overhyped), you expected a suitable ending. What's worse than a bad ending? Multiple bad endings attached to a good or great game. Fable is guilty. Just watch.



So, either way you go, you're getting a non-cinematic cutscene in the comic book/stained glass style. Your reward for this is the most powerful weapon in the game after you just handed the final boss his ass without it? Essentially you get to roam through a pointless world where the boss has already been conquered as an overpowered monster? Yeah, great. Thanks. I may have included Fable 2 in the Hall of Fame, but it killed my XBox 360, so I never got to finish it. Oh well.

That's it for this week. If you're so inclined, send me a message on Twitter @GavinNapier411 and you can tell me directly how much you loved or hated the column. Come back next week for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves!












Screenshots
All 10 Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Screenshots





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