Movie-like Game Presentation
Games and movies are on a crash course, but when will they collide? Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of the first titles to successfully fuse these mediums.
In many regards, games have attempted to mimic movies over time. As graphical power has increased, game stories have become more grand, the characters have become more real, and the overall experience has become more and more engaging.
Surprisingly, until I recently played Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, I thought games were doing the best they could at bridging the gap between games and movies. Uncharted 2 proved to me that so much more could be done with the medium that hadn't been approached until now.
Thus far, the most shining of examples for a game presented as a movie has been Indigo Prophecy. Indigo Prophecy proved unique because every action and choice actually modeled the story differently. The gameplay left something to be desired though and the story turned quite ridiculous towards the end.
Uncharted 2 took some of the cinematic cues that made Indigo Prophecy unique, like the strong characters and believable dialog, and worked it into a much deeper title. While the camera in Uncharted 2 was free range for the majority of the time, the developers understood when they needed to take control of the camera to direct the player's attention to something in particular or amplify the cinematic nature of a particular situation.
Stunning animation is also on Uncharted's side, producing much more believable gestures that humanize the computer characters. The environments presented are also robust and believable, fitting the story and its settings well, producing an all-around stunning presentation.
When it comes down to it, Uncharted 2 seems to have benefited from the eye of a director. Each and every scene in the game was analyzed for effectiveness and ambiance and was tweaked until it was just right.
I find it surprising how many other titles attempt to create an experience similar to what is found with Uncharted, but don't manage to succeed. Lengthy cinematics, overwhelming story, and characters with little soul and character keep most of these games from feeling like epic movies.
While I love the Metal Gear Solid series, Metal Gear Solid 4 is a perfect example of a title that while good, does a poor job of bridging the two mediums. The game was accomplished in the fact that it offered a compelling story and characters, but all too often took control out of the player's hands. Just like a movie, players must embody the main character and constantly feel as if they are the ones discovering the hidden artifact, defeating the epic foe, winning the girl, etc.
Uncharted has shown that a director's touch may be the one element missing from many of these games that focus strongly on the story and player's interaction with the characters. The small touches throughout Uncharted 2 and the orchestration of the most intense scenes are what produced such a compelling experience.
As gaming continues to progress, it seems likely that games will begin to attract the attention of movie directors who want to help tighten the presentation and story portions of an experience to make it more thrilling to both play and observe. While each and every game out there won't get the same treatment, games will start to have their own summer blockbuster-like titles that produce an unforgettable, action-packed experience.