Here we are, the end of an era… one that started way back in 2007 and introduced us to Nathan Drake and his ragtag group of thieves and treasure hunters. Blockbuster entertainment, loveable characters and Indiana Jones-esque exploits made the series fresh, interesting and downright fun. Now that it’s finally over let’s take a look back on why Drake was such a good hero, and a perfect leading man for the series. Just as a heads up… this article will contain a good few spoilers for all 4 main-games in the series so read at your own peril!
“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory”
Right from his introduction, Nathan Drake is a witty everyman that is one part Harrison Ford, and one part Lara Croft – it makes for a believable combination and his likeability grows over the course of the series. His ad-libbed lines, jokes, and quips are all expertly delivered and sometimes crafted by the voice behind the man himself, Nolan North.
His roguish humor and incredible charm are inspired by dozens of different characters but it’s the likeness to Indy himself that make him such a great hero. Like Indy, Nathan Drake is an imperfect protagonist – he barely makes jumps and climbs, he trips and is constantly hurting himself and getting into ridiculous situations. It was a joy listening to his one-liners, constant sighing and panting in near death situations and that little laugh he made when he didn’t just die. Nolan North and Naughty Dog brought him to life.
Drake has that perfect level of cockiness and swagger, but is flawed enough for us to relate to him and really feel some of his woes, and misfortune. It’s almost the perfect archetype – one that many comics, movies, and books decide to emulate. He is by no means original, but what Naughty Dog and Nolan North have done with the character help connect us to his persona and emotional struggles. In short, we really care for him and we enjoy ‘being him’ as we play through his adventures.
“I did not tell half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed.”
Let’s talk Uncharted 2 specifically for a moment… Holy macaroni! That introduction… Now, before I get into this, check out the video of the intro:
That was one of the most incredible video game openings ever! In fact, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was actually the first PS3 game I played, and the reason I bought the console in the first place. It took what made Uncharted 1 great and dialed it up a notch to create something near perfect.
Drake’s Fortune set an axiom for the series but Among Thieves perfected it. The pacing of the story was fantastic. It told a funny, exciting story without being hindered with slow back-story or a mass of character introductions. The cast of characters old and new all melded so well together with Drake it was just a joy to play through hearing their interaction.
There’s something about Drake’s constant pursuit for knowledge, and that Indy-esque hunt to find artifacts that, in the wrong hands, could lead to dangerous things. He’s never necessarily happy to ‘save the world’ but he clearly knows it’s something that he must do, no matter how cumbersome it may be. Usually… saving his own skin and saving the world come hand-in-hand.
“All men dream: but not equally.”
After seeing so much of Drake’s whimsy it was lovely to see how his relationship with mentor-father figure Sully came to be so prominent. Sully’s treatment of Drake is multifaceted. On the one hand, offering advise and telling the ‘kid’ off now and again comes across very fatherly… but then letting him go do some crazy-ass things shows that he still sees him as a partner as well. Remember, Sully is a thief… and sometimes there is no honor amongst thieves… something that plagues Drake’s mind for much of the third game.
It’s a darker tone, one that I welcomed but wasn’t handled as well as the previous stories. I absolutely love Sully, but part of the pacing did frustrate me about the overall plot of Drake’s Deception. His struggle to accept that maybe all this galavanting around needs to stop is great to see but t’s not until the final game where we really see Drake’s inner demons become a reality. Remember, we’ve come a long way with this character. We love chasing bad guys, finding treasure and getting the girl… but now things are changing. We are older, wiser, and weary just like the titular hero himself.
“I am a Man of Fortune, and I must seek my fortune.”
We’ve traversed jungles, battled literal f***king super-powered bad guys, struggled with trust and fear but it’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End that really hits us in the gut emotionally. Are we done with this life, like Drake? Are we ready to give up on adventure and settle for mediocrity? Or… do we want to have one last adrenaline filled junky ride through bullet waves and real waves? … The third one, definitely the third one!
A Thief’s End really took what Drake’s Deception tried to do and expanded it. Drake is struggling with the realization that his life is boring compared to what it used to be and nothing set the scene better than when we took cover and shot targets in his attic all the while hearing the sounds of adventures past. It’s a melancholy moment, but one that made me stop and reminisce about his life up until this point at every chance I got.
Part of what personally connected me to Drake during this game is the fact that I have brothers myself, and I’d do anything to keep them safe. However, Drake slowly realizes that only 30% of him is doing it for that reason and 70% of him is enjoying the ride. Seeing him lie to Elena, and enjoy being back in some ass***e’s crosshairs is strange, yet familiar to us. This is what Uncharted 4 does so wonderfully. It remembers that we’ve come so incredibly far from that first game and Drake has evolved as a person, but really… you cannot take the adventure out of him.
The poignant ending left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside… but it also left me echoing Drake’s feeling of emptiness knowing that there were no more adventures to be had.