Doughnut Drake: The real hero of Uncharted
I have finally played Uncharted 2 in its entirety. I had never played an Uncharted game, and frankly, I never thought I would at this point. Something about the ruggedly handsome treasure hunter seemed kind of clichéd and boring to me, and I was never a huge fan of Tomb Raider's awkward platforming.
At least Indiana Jones wasn’t trying to be an action hero when he went hunting for artifacts. But Drake. Well, he's kind of a psychopath.
He steals stuff because he’s bored and hey, why not? And that’s a given, since he’s the classic treasure hunter archetype. But what really bothers me is that at the beginning of the game, he has this weird thing about not using guns. And then he’s, like, “Oh, I guess tranquilizers are okay.” After this, he proceeds to be completely fine with tranquing people off of heights that would break their necks and pulling people off ledges to fall at least four stories into the sea.
I mean, what the heck, Drake?!
The weird thing is that the creators of this game created this sort of charming “I have the worst luck in the world” persona around Drake. Despite Nathan being kind of a tool, the pacing and planning of the story are pretty spectacular.
The game starts with Drake climbing out of a train wreckage with a stomach wound. It’s hard not to feel bad for him at that point, because he seems like a guy who just can’t get a break. Signs post bend. Floors crumble. This guy has the worse luck than Charlie Brown. After a while, you have to just start rolling your eyes at it, and I think that’s what the creators wanted. It's such a ridiculous storyline that players can't help but laugh and enjoy it. After all, he does fight yetis in the Himalayas.
Enter Doughnut Drake
Then, I found out you could unlock a costume called “Doughnut Drake.” Not only did it drastically alter Drake's body type, but the game slows his dialogue down so that he talks in this deep, breathy voice with a slight delay. After that, I couldn't help but play as "Doughnut" for the rest of the game.
He was still the same Drake jumping around and killing bad guys and stuff, but all of the things that made Drake kind of dillweed turned into ways of making him a more sympathetic character. No longer is he trying way too hard for a rugged, athletic man put in a rough situation. Now, he's trying just hard enough for an unathletic man put in an impossible situation.
Doughnut is my canon version of Drake. I'm not sure I want to play a game without Doughnut Drake in it.
For example, everything breaking all the time now makes real-world sense. Those signs and old brick floors were not meant to hold a man of Doughnut Drake’s size. He has no right being caught in this situation, doing all these acrobatics everywhere. Hearing Doughnut Drake’s labored panting through his carefully-rendered jowls makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. This was a man with absolutely no reason to be in his position, treasure hunting around the world. And yet, there he was, struggling with every step. It was kind of admirable.
In addition, the women in the game are always making jabs at him. With regular-sized Drake, this was expected. He can take the hits. With Doughnut Drake, it’s completely uncalled for.
"Give the poor man a break!" I cried. "He’s tired and hungry. He didn’t ask for this."
And because his voice is played in slow motion, characters often talk over him. Even when he does get a word in edgewise, the delayed reactions always make him seem like he’s fumbling for witty comebacks.
Playing as Doughnut Drake made me think of how easily we are swayed by the smallest of changes in a character, like how a person speaks or a person’s weight. If Indiana Jones was overweight, would that have elicited more sympathy? If James Bond had a lisp or a chronic stutter, would he still be a ladykiller? Would anyone idolize him, or even take him seriously?
I kind of doubt it.
What do you think? Is Drake a joke or a jerk? Are he and Doughnut Drake any different at all? How do you think changes in appearance or mannerisms affect the gaming experience?