Uncharged: The Nathan Drake Collection

The Uncharted Series of games was the definition of PlayStation 3 games as they grew and adjusted over the life of the console. The recently released collection is a nice addition to PlayStation 4 library and good value for the purchase price.

Including the single player games of the previously released PlayStation 3 Games:

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

All have been changed to 60 frames per second and fit on a single disc. The multiplayer features are gone, but this logistically makes sense due to the shift to PlayStation 4.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

The game was new and the formula was not quite established yet. The graphics probably experienced the largest improvement due to age, but it stays very true to the original. The aiming feels a bit off, but I cannot tell if this is due to the change to 60fps or just my memory failing.

Graphical achievements:

Dynamic wet clothing up to what is submerged and Flowing water.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

This game had the best pacing among the trilogy and refined the formula of the crazy set pieces, the interplay of character banter with rotating on screen cast, and great escalation of danger and risk.

The supporting characterization that Nathan Drake is a realist and is not above giving up on the treasure as the hero comes out of his hidden core. He plays the hero because he feels he is the only one who can, not because he wants to be a hero.

The only complaints with this game is there two spots of intense difficulty spikes and sometimes it is due to the AI of your teammates who decide to break cover and just start shooting while you were letting your enemies thin themselves out. The first is the water passage late in the game as you struggle between and RPG firing enemy far away and a closing group of armor clad shotgun wielders (head shots are only way to kill them). The other is the end boss fight and this fight gets me yelling at the screen every time. The execution is so tight due to facing a double barrel shotgun that reloads faster then anything in the real world.

Graphical Achievements:

Snow accumulation on clothing,

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Pacing just felt poorer in this installment. The locations were more varied and efforts were made to improve the characterization with some new additions. This fits with a story that returns to Sir Francis Drake and the resulting back story of Nathan and Sully.  Where the first game was focused on Nathan and Elena, the second game on Elana, Chloe, and Nathan, the 3rd game has vignettes with the others but the focus remains on Nathan and Sully. Their meeting and what they mean to each other.

Complaints however need to be leveled at Marlowe, Talbot, and their endless army of men in suits. Their motivation is left completely blank outside of “POWER” and the abilities of Talbot are unexplained. The hallucinogenic powers of the water I can except, but when people unaffected by mind control darts see a man disappear into thin air it breaks down.

The set pieces are grand, but the level design suffer believability at times and seems more intent on making you slog through enemies more so then because they would actually be there. It is ultimately due to the combat encounters they want you to experience, but some of the combat waves are just out of sync and the checkpoints feel like they make you suffer if you screw up and have open combat when stealth fails. The pirate levels in the ship graveyard are the best examples of this.

Graphical Achievements:

Fire burning buildings and Sand environments.

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I am certainly looking forward to Uncharted 4 on the PlayStation 4 next year. The previews look wonderful and they seem to be focusing on some mud effects.

Leadership in Syria

President Obama had an interview with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes

The following exchange struck me as amazingly delusional.

Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.

President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–

Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II–

President Barack Obama: So that’s–

Steve Kroft: –bombing the people– that we are supporting.

President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine–

Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership–

President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.

The style of Russian President Vladimir Putin is certainly one that uses more force then politics, but it is leadership regardless. Denying this fundamental fact is incompetence.

Certainly it is not how President Obama would have chosen to led either in method or direction, but it is leadership. Russia is moving the United States out of the airspace and they are dictating their will. This is after the Annexation of Crimea and the ensuing proxy civil war in Ukraine.

I can accept someone who has different values or fundamental positions from me and how this influences their interpretation of events. Applying this to the question of leadership then you can argue it is poor leadership with costs that will not succeed in the end, but it is leadership none the less. This leadership is working right now.

Gun Control

Another gun shooting, another headline, another outcry, and ensuing debate about gun rights/gun control.

Here is the simple and clear way to get a legal gun free America in 5 easy steps.

That is what it will take if you want to do it legally, but instead we have a world of enforced political correctness and trying to convince the public to give away their rights. They prey on the fear and the heartache of those who see the loss of life and think change is the only way. Freedoms come with a cost and burden.

I certainly empathize with those who lost loved ones and those who question how someone could commit such evil, but I fundamentally cannot give up the principle that the 2nd amendment should be protected.

The rhetoric against it has shifted and changed over the years, but it categorically is dismissive or ignorant of the history of the founding of the United States of America.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The Declaration of Independence details the abuses of the British monarchy to the American Colonies and despite the political efforts to address these issues they felt their only recourse was to declare their independence and fight a revolutionary war.

The founding fathers had noble intentions, but they were students of history and recognized change was the only constant. They built a government that could adjust and change, but tried to enshrine protections against the government abusing its citizens. They were not perfect and while they acknowledged issues such as slavery needed to be addressed they could not reach a consensus at the time of signing.

Public citizens (current definition) make up the Militia as needed and if such a time comes when a US government (Federal or State) is despotic and abusive to its citizens and political/legal efforts to address are unsuccessful then the right to revolt exists. Ultimately the contest then becomes one of a contest of might and force.  The US Revolution might have had justice and logic on its side, but if they could not win the war then it would not matter.  The United States Civil War was not lost by the South due to their logic and position on slavery, but due to the military might and power of industry. Belief in their position and swaying the support of third parties can be impacted by your reasoning, but ultimately it is the strategy and military might that decides who was right in the conflict.

I do not advocate a need for revolt today, despite the current litany of problems in our government, but I am not willing to give up my rights when I our descendants might need them in the future. I do this knowing that the risk is people will abuse their rights and hurt their fellow citizens at times. Sometimes the cost and burden of freedom is hard to bear and it can result in much mental and emotional anguish.

People argue that we are a civilized society and do not need guns. With public elections why would we need to worry about dictators?Have we learned nothing about Germany who had elected officials convert their country into the Nazi Regime which abused its own citizens and ultimately focused on the Jewish people by starting with disarmament?

 

Despite that being history we have current examples of expansionist actions of Russia, the religious caliphate of ISIS, and the largely peaceful revolution of Egypt turning into abuses and despotism. The human species fundamentally cannot learn from our history and we will eventually have another Dark Age period of culture and freedom. It is only a matter of time and I have no inclination it will occur during my own lifespan, but it is a guarantee we will falter as the sin of human arrogance or stupidity strikes. When the government fears the public then they ensure they have the consent of the governed. When the public fears the government then there is no freedom.