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by Scott Juster

17 Nov 2011


The following post contains plot spoilers for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception dispels any doubt regarding the series’ aspirations.  Uncharted strives to step into the void left by Indiana Jones as popular culture’s premiere pulp-adventure series.  It’s an impressive effort. Nathan Drake is a roguish charmer with the capacity for sentimentality and violence.  He’s surrounded by memorable sidekicks, villains, and love interests.  The game’s plot darts about the globe, giving players an opportunity to virtually explore exotic lands and defy death in spectacular action sequences.  From tonal, thematic, and artistic perspectives, Uncharted is a welcome experience for those of us who have been waiting for another Indiana Jones since 1989 (like any rational person, I disavow The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s existence).

Unfortunately, the series’s very existence as a video game often proves to be its greatest undoing.  For years now, I’ve argued that Uncharted‘s dual existence as a cinematic adventure is at odds with its devotion to the structure of a rigorous action game.  Uncharted 3 is the clearest example of this conflict.  Difficulty spikes and repetition clash with the story’s breezy cadence.  At around eight to ten hours, Uncharted 3‘s campaign overstays its welcome, mostly thanks to its gameplay.

by Jorge Albor

10 Nov 2011


Two weeks ago I discussed a promotional video in which Harrison Ford plays Uncharted 3. The advertisement capitalizes on our familiarity with Ford as an adventure movie icon, in particular his role as the much loved archaeologist Indiana Jones. The commercial, I argued, positions games in pop culture as the natural offspring of film, the medium that inherits the proverbial torch, bringing swashbuckling cinema adventures into an unparalleled medium. After encountering some of the stunning set pieces in Uncharted 3 and seeing the mad and chaotic encounters of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, I am inclined to agree. Specifically, the huge triple-A titles that consistently rank among our yearly top tens have become the new vanguards of spectacle, creating outrageous scenarios and environments that give even the well budgeted cinematic piece a run for its money.

by Scott Juster

3 Nov 2011


“Video games are a young medium.”  This is a common refrain among those who study them.  I know I’ve said it on multiple occasions.  Of course, this conventional wisdom ignores the fact that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of Spacewar! and the 40th anniversary of the Magnavox Odyssey.  Additionally, thanks to the realities of business and technology, video games age in dog years; the difference between a game made in 2001 and one made in 2011 is much more apparent than two films or novels of similar vintages.  The time to start writing the history of the medium has long since passed.

Thankfully, David Kushner realized this.  His 2003 book, Masters of Doom, chronicles the birth of id Software and the tumultuous rise of two industry legends: John Carmack and John Romero.  It’s a comprehensive book, one that straddles multiple lines: academic writing vs. literary storytelling, a focus on the medium vs. video games’ broader cultural significance, biographical detail vs. a holistic view of the industry.  It’s a difficult task, but Kushner rises to the challenge and creates a work that demonstrates both the many changes and recurring themes in the medium.

by Jorge Albor

27 Oct 2011


Did you see the recent Harrison Ford advertisement? (And if you haven’t, you can check it out below.). Apparently Indiana Jones loves Uncharted 3. Dr. Henry Jones is retired of course (and who wouldn’t after that whole crystal skull fiasco?), but surely his opinion is still valid. After all, Jones is a cultural icon, a swashbuckling hero that we all admire, a perfect representative of what the medium stands for. Yet finding our games media spokesperson is not so easy. Just last week, my PopMatters compatriot Scott Juster wrote about a subway commercial that offers a different perspective on video games. G. Christopher Williams also wrote about a television commercial for the PS3 with its own reflection on games and gamers. This selection of divergent and even contradictory advertisements reflects the inconsistent place that games still hold within popular culture.

Although Sony’s latest pitch for Uncharted 3 was targeted towards Japanese consumers, the Western press picked it up and gamers responded positively to video of Harrison Ford playing Naughty Dog’s forthcoming title. Even though we all know that Ford is a paid actor, his reactions to the game appear both genuine and charming. Considering his age, it feels a bit like watching your grandpa play a video game and finding that he actually likes it. His face contorts during action scenes, and he seems genuinely strained when fighting off enemies. Ford even recognizes the artificial situation and still appears to thoroughly enjoy the experience of playing Uncharted 3. “If there wasn’t a bunch of people around it would be even more exciting,” he says.

by Scott Juster

20 Oct 2011


A couple weeks ago, Jorge and I embarked on a journey.  With full wallets, empty bellies, and half-tucked shirts, we journeyed to Subway.  Purchasing some food allowed us to stave off hunger and gain early access to Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer.  I was particularly fond of the beta, so this was an opportunity to get another chance to check out the full mode as well as to test a relatively new means of promoting and marketing a game.  Now that I’ve had the time to play the game a bit more and to reflect on the promotion itself, I feel like my opinion regarding fast food sums up the Uncharted 3 multiplayer early access experience. It was immediately satisfying, but I fear it’s ultimately unhealthy.

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