Nathan Drake: Murderer - The Will Porter Column
- Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
- Naughty Dog
(Read the Made2Game Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception review here.)
If I were to meet Nathan Drake in a pub we’d get on like a house on fire. In all likelihood a thrilling third act twist would later reveal that I was a bad guy all along, but for the time being I’d listen to his stories, buy him a beer and laugh whenever he said ‘oh, crap’. It’d be great. Until, that is, he’d had a little bit too much to drink and started to tell me about all the men he’d killed. At that point I’d look a little deeper into his beautifully rendered eyes, and I’d see someone dead on the inside.
This nice, friendly fictional character – a man whose only obvious affliction was to obsessive-compulsively touch walls when he got close to them – would reveal that in his career as a gadabout treasure hunter he had also become a murderer. He'd explain that thousands of men, many of whom regularly wore the same clothes to work as all their friends, had died at his hand.
Something similar happened to me in real life. I was in a fairly rough pub on the night of the Haye vs Klitschko fight, and I fell into conversation with a man who had lost both his legs in Afghanistan. He was genuinely the most inspirational man I have ever met – a hero even before he was so savagely wounded who had successfully reclaimed his life after losing two limbs. He’d recently found himself working as a friend and mentor to more recently wounded soldiers during their rehabilitation. What a guy.
I bought him drink after drink, the whole pub did, and next to him I felt entirely insignificant. It’s at this point he turned to me and said: “You know, the best thing about being in the Army is the way it feels when you kill some c**t in a turban”.
My internal hero narrative was suddenly derailed, I was stunned into silence and I didn’t know where to look. The only working part of my brain was devoted to slowly blinking. I wandered off to watch the fight build-up instead, and would only days later compile a mental suite of things that I should have said at that particular moment in time.
It’s an extreme real-world analogy for my mixed feelings towards Nathan Drake, but it still fits. I play Uncharted games with two independent narrative streams in my head – in some strange videogame variation on Orwell’s doublethink. I laugh along with the jokes, enjoy the camaraderie and develop a healthy crush on Chloe with one half of my brain – while very consciously building a massive mental wall between this and the neurons devoted to shooting men in the face or throwing gas canisters in their general direction. (Which, incidentally, was far better in Uncharted 2 than 3).
The unwritten rule of modern society is that nice guys don’t kill people, unless those people are Nazis – which probably means it’s okay. Indeed, the bodycount conundrum is one that action games, being so reliant on death and mayhem, have had to gloss over since time immemorial. It’s also the reason that, as Charlie Brooker pointed out recently, so many video-game heroes have to be such colossally asocial dicks.
What’s the answer then? Limit enemy shuffles from this mortal coil to five per game, and then show the hero crying in bed - pressing RT to intermittently shout ‘Why God why? I’m sorry!’ and A to start bawling uncontrollably? Well, no. Sadly the only answer is to power down your analytical functions and concentrate on laughing at the funnies and yelping like a sealion at the more humourous ragdolls.
It’s either that or come up with a powerful new generation of emotive interactive experiences that will change the entertainment world as we know it. Frankly, that sounds pretty tricky. Nate’s way is easier, so I’ll just wait for Uncharted 4.
Will Porter writes about games and for games. In a former life he was the editor of the dear departed PC Zone magazine, right now though he pulls the narrative strings on Project Zomboid and has some secret stuff that he'd like to tell you about - but probably shouldn't. If you want rolling updates on how hungry/sleepy he is then follow @Batsphinx on Twitter.
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