Saturday, 30 January 2010

Don't Call Uncharted 2 A Film

Why do game critics keep calling Uncharted 2 a movie, and grandly insisting that it ranks among the year's best films? Kotaku's writers recently repeated this claim, with Luke Plunkett arguing Uncharted 2 was "2009's best action movie" and Mike Fahey claiming it could "easily stand toe-to-toe with any action movie"; other critics have said many similar things.    

Granted, Uncharted 2 leads gaming's current push toward more heavily scripted, spectacle-driven design. It uses the common tricks employed by Gears of War and other games to mimic camera focus (you know, the effects you turned off to get better visibility). The voice acting and script are highly professional. But comparing the whole production to a great movie, or to any movie, is insane. To its fans, the game's modest narrative is a masterwork, its stock characters are rare orders, and the whole experience rivals Raiders of the Lost Ark as popular entertainment. But as much as Uncharted 2 imitates the movie aesthetic, it remains a game; if you judge it on the same terms you would a film’s narrative, it comes up short. Comparing Uncharted 2 to a good film is unfair and ridiculous, but many game critics have insisted that their readers should make the comparison, so I will.