Thursday, 30 August 2012

Big Game Hunting - Game versus Comic: Uncharted

There are a handful of comics that only exist thanks to the great success of the games that inspired them. But just how good are these comics when compared to their digital counterparts? This week we look at the Naughty Dog-inspired comic, Uncharted, written by Joshua Williamson.

What's the comic about?
Treasure hunters Nathan Drake and Victor "Sully" Sullivan are seeking the legendary Amber Room by following clues left behind by great explorer Sir Francis Byrd. But they are not alone in the search, and enemies of Drake's ancestor will stop at nothing to beat him to it - and get revenge for past wrongs.

When does the comic take place in relation to game events?
This is a bit of a tricky one to answer. Even the author himself has admitted the time frame isn't pinpointed absolutely. Elena, a primary character in the first game, is never mentioned, so we must assume it takes place before meeting her, or after the end of their relationship between the first and second games.The only certainty we have is that this story takes place sometime before Uncharted II, when Drake and Chloe Frazier (a treasure seeker from Drake's past) meet again.

How true are the characters?
The main characters feel, for the most part, spot on. There is the occasional line that feels like it's coming from the wrong character. I often found myself laughing at Sully's lines more than Drake's, making it feel as if Drake's wit was on the slow side for this story. Chloe is just as snappy with her own one-liners as ever, and felt like the truest character of the bunch. The brief appearance of Flynn (also from Uncharted II) - while accurate enough with his portrayal - felt forced and pointless, as if the author was simply searching for someone other Sully to fill the pages with a bit of variety.

What about continuity?
For me personally, I feel the continuity is intact between the comics and the games. However, this is largely because I think a lack of information does not create a fault. Without giving too much away, the circumstances of how Drake and Chloe part ways prior to Uncharted II is in question by some readers. The explanation of these circumstances differs between the game and the comic. However, with the exception of one specific point, the game is conveniently vague on explaining exactly what happened.

My opinion is simply that we are never told how many times Chloe and Drake have crossed paths over their lifetimes. Considering the line of work they are both in, there is every likelihood they've met more than once before the events of Uncharted II. Sully even says, "I doubt we've seen the last of her," effectively hitting the nail on the head.

What does the comic do that the game doesn't, or can't?
One thing that can get tedious in the games are the action sequences. While the developers clearly did what they could to relieve that, there is no denying that occasionally you will reach the point where a fight scene is reduced to button mashing. The comic is able to swiftly plow through these sequences, showing the best moments of the fight before moving right into the next part of the scene. You're able to enjoy both fights and narrative, without every panel of every page being filled with "WHAM", "BANG", and "BOOM".

Can I read this without playing the game?
Absolutely. The comic is the perfect way to get a good taste of the game series if you haven't played it before. The characters are explained just enough to carry the story, the plot isn't directly linked to the game events, and the format feels at times like you're watching the game being played out on paper (only more exciting, because watching someone play a game can be quite boring sometimes).

You may get more enjoyment out of it if you've already played at least through Uncharted II, though. Chloe's appearance in itself is enough to make an impact on Uncharted players. Knowing at least some of Drake's history, particularly his claim to being the descendent of Sir Francis Drake, also gives the comic more depth and provides an instant backstory to the plot.

Want to give this comic a go? Grab the graphic novel containing all six issues from Proud Lion!

Rae is a little poorly today. Sad face.

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