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Nathan Drake

Uncharted 4
by yo go re

When will these gaming companies stop pushing their liberal agenda by forcing male reboots of female properties?

Every treasure has its price. Thrown back into the dangerous underworld he tried to leave behind, Nathan Drake must decide what he's willing to sacrifice to save the ones he loves.

I don't know, his life maybe? He's a heroic guy, that seems like something he'd do. I know literally nothing about the plot of Uncharted 4, but since its subtitle is "A Thief's End" and he's been aging more-or-less in real time since he was first introduced a decade ago, he's got to be pushing middle age, so maybe the writers want to give him a proper finale rather than trying to continue to milk the property forever. I could find out, surely, but I've just finished Uncharted 2, so I don't care that much: just like Chell and all those Ezios, I'm more about the character than what specific game it's from.

Nathan Drake is voiced by Nolan North, who's most famous for voicing Nathan Drake (and pretty much every other male videogame protagonist, really). The character's looks and personality were based, in part, on Johnny Knoxville - while the face evolved over time, gaining a bunch of Nathan Fillion in the process, its roots still show in the spiky black hair.

This figure includes two heads: one plain, one with the mouth open in a slight grimmace to show his teeth. They're otherwise the same, both painted with the same stubble and the scrape or bruise on the forehead. Yes, Nathan Drake went to the John McClane school of leading-man heroism, the one where you get your butt kicked before saving the day.

Nathan doesn't have a single iconic outfit, like some videogame characters, but he has an iconic style - no matter what color shirt he's wearing (blue for Uncharted 4), it's always half untucked. He alternates betwen jeans and khakis, but since his shirt is blue this time around, you know he's not going to be wearing denim beneath it. The figure was sculpted by Djordje Djokovic of Neobauhaus Studios, and it's looking great: there are fine wrinkles in the clothing, and what little of his body we can actually see (his arms, neck and chest) shows subtle and realistic anatomy. While the game offers a lot of female fanservice in the form of Nate falling in water and walking around with his clothes clinging to him sexily, here they're a bit drier. He wears a shoulder holster, and has a zippered pouch hanging off his right hip. Since this figure comes to us after Uncharted 3, he doesn't have a ring on a cord around his neck. Sad!

The articulation is terrific. Remember back when NECA used to just do a few swivel joints and nothing more? We've come a long way, baby. Drake has balljointed ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists and elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed neck. Even as he enters his dotage, Nathan Drake is an active, athletic guy, and this toy has all the articulation you'd want for dynamic shooting-brown-people action!

(Yes, the Uncharted series has a real problem with that. It's mostly a realistic world, exotic but not cartoony, so when you have a white American dude running around killing scores of natives, it's hard to ignore the connotations. Literally the first thing you do upon being given control of the character for the very first time in the very first game is shoot a black person, and it doesn't let up from there. Nathan Drake has killed more indiginous people than smallpox, and the series only pays the briefest lip service to how weird a trait that is for a hero to have before putting its head down and setting him loose to spew bullets at the darkies again.)

To that end, Drake's accessories include a handgun that actually fits in the holster under his left arm, an AK-47 that someone had stolen out of the package the first time I managed to find this figure, and two versions of a grappling hook: one open wide and tied to a real bit of "rope," the other compacted and with the rope coiled up. That one can plug into the figure's left side, but why is the rope on the outside rather than the in? That seems awkward. The set also includes two extra hands, since the fists he has on his arms when you open the box may be great for punching blacks, Asians and Latinos, but you need an open grip and trigger fingers for the guns.

The figure is sold in a box, like the rest of NECA's "Ultimate" figures, taking its front image from the cover of the game. The back and sides are covered with beautifully shot images of the toy in action, looking for all the world like screenshots of the game, and if you open the front flap there's a faded old map of the lower half of Africa. Because what (other than a genetically dead-ended misogynist happily casting a vote for Donald Trump) could possibly say "whites are the superior race" more than an image of South Africa? All kidding aside, this is a very nice presentation and showcases the figure excellently.

And on that note, though this review has given Nathan "Mighty Whitey" Drake a lot of crap for who the game makes him kill, it's still a good toy. And Uncharted is a really fun game series: the thing stupid people fail to grasp is that you can criticize the bad politics of a work and still enjoy it for what it is; so I can think it's disturbing the way the game forces you to treat other real living human beings (with an asterisk after "real living" because they are, after all, just pretend digital creations, but they're still normal humans and not robots or aliens or zombies or what have you), but at the same time I can also have a blast playing it and look forward to one day playing A Thief's End. Until then, though, having this excellent toy will have to suffice.

-- 11/20/16

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