The Women of Uncharted 2: What Naughty Dog Did Right

Chloe Frazier from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Chloe has black hair, tied at the back of her neck. She has dark tan skin. She is wearing a close-fitting blue winter jacket and equally close-fitting khaki-coloured trousers. She has brown boots that to almost up to her knees. She is standing on rocky ground in front of a rock face. There is some snow on the ground and on the rocks in the background.

Chloe Frazier from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, noted for its immersive, cinematic approach to game play, is also notable in that its two leading women, are portrayed in a generally positive way. In this post, I’ll briefly discuss what I think the developers at Naughty Dog did right by these two kick-ass women.

There are some mild spoilers in this post.

Interesting, Believable, Three-Dimensonal Personalities

Elena Fisher and Chloe Frazier come across as real human beings. They have distinct personalities, and are driven by different motivations. The developers treated the characters with respect and with what feels like a high regard for their own individual motivations and personality. Elena is driven by a strong sense of justice. She’s still tough and smart and funny. Chloe is also tough, extremely clever, and quick-thinking. Elena is more of an idealist, whereas Chloe would probably call herself a realist. The game doesn’t give you their backstories, but there’s enough there that gives players the feeling that Naughty Dog have really fleshed them out. There is a lot of priceless dialogue between Chloe and Elena towards the end of the game, where they crack jokes at Nate’s expense, which I absolutely loved to bits. I think it’s really awesome that both women are incredibly witty and funny throughout the game, and that it’s not the hero who gets all the best and most memorable lines. A big reason for why they feel like real people is due to great acting.

Elena Fisher and Chloe Frazier come across as real human beings. They have distinct personalities, and are driven by different motivations. The developers treated the characters with respect and with what feels like a high regard for their own individual motivations and personality. Elena is driven by a strong sense of justice. She’s tough and smart and funny. Chloe has a strong sense of self-preservation. She is also tough, extremely clever, and quick-thinking. Elena is more of an idealist, whereas Chloe would probably call herself a realist. The game doesn’t give you their backstories, but there’s enough there that gives players the feeling that Naughty Dog have really fleshed them out. There is a lot of priceless dialogue between Chloe and Elena towards the end of the game, where they crack jokes at Nate’s expense, which I absolutely loved to bits. I think it’s really awesome that both women are incredibly witty and funny throughout the game, and that it’s not the hero who gets all the best and most memorable lines. And another big reason for why they feel like real people is due to great acting.

Capable and Competent

They can take care of themselves. Although Nathan Drake mentions that these women are skilled and capable, we also see it in action. Throughout the course of the game, both women act as computer-controlled allies, who are right in the thick of things, shooting their way through tides of enemies. They don’t get in your way, and you’re always glad they have your back.

No Women in Refrigerators

The forutunes of Chloe Frazier and Elena Fisher do not exist to solely serve the personal development of Nathan Drake. They’re well-rounded characters rather than plot devices. This point is related to the first one. Both characters are pursuing their own interests, and these interests at times conflict with what Drake wants to do. And sometimes it forces Drake to look at himself, his motivations, and what’s important to him. But his personal growth doesn’t take place at the expense of Elena or Chloe. Neither Elena nor Chloe are women in refrigerators.

Elena Fisher from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Elena is a white woman with blonde hair. Her hair is tied up high at the back of her head in a knot. She is wearing a close-fitting orange winter jacked with a fuzzy collar. Her trousers are grey and close-fitting. She has brown boots that go up to just below her knees. She is standing on a carved stone slab, which itself sits on rocky, ground. There is snow on the ground in the background. Behind her, is a rock face a skinny, barren tree and yellowed grass growing.

Elena Fisher from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Elena is Not a “Bond Girl”

After the events of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a lot of people expected Elena Fisher to be tossed aside. Elena kicked serious ass in the first game, and Naughty Dog decided to bring her back. This was met with a lot of support from fans who came to love Elena as a clever, witty, and great character in the first game.

No “Catfighting”

When you have two women in a videogame, each of which are or were involved with the main character, one almost automatically expects the developers to do a horribly cliched thing: have two women fight over a man. This didn’t happen in Uncharted 2, and the game’s plot and characters were much stronger for it. Chloe and Elena actually seemed to take a liking to each other. They interacted with each other with a sense of humour and cameraderie that comes with shared experiences—being stuck in serious, life-threatening situations with Nathan Drake. Each woman has some of the best and choices lines in the game, and they play off of each other so well. It wouldn’t have been either woman’s personality to fight each other over Drake because they’re both independent, practical, strong women. It’s refreshing to see the developers not take the easy way out.

Has anyone else played Uncharted 2? What did you think about Chloe and Elena, and were there any other positive aspects about the portrayal of Elena and Chloe you could think of?

About Brinstar

Brinstar is an Editor (on hiatus) at The Border House blog. She is a cisgender, temporarily able-bodied, Asian, culturally-mixed woman from the United States. She is a longtime gamer and works in the videogame industry as a community manager. You can find her blogging about games at Acid for Blood and on Twitter at @Brinstar.
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8 Responses to The Women of Uncharted 2: What Naughty Dog Did Right

  1. Nymeria says:

    Uncharted 2 is amazing so far. I haven’t beaten it yet, but I’ve loved everything the game has offered so far. It’s much better than the first game, to me.

    It and Demon’s Souls has kept me playing the PS3 exclusively for about two months now.

  2. Denis Farr says:

    And you can play as them in multiplayer! I enjoy watching them melee, actually–I was triumphantly huzzahing when Chloe kneed someone for the first time.

    I was also impressed with how they handled the relationships. Chloe’s pragmatic nature only makes her response to the entire situation make all the more sense.

    In many ways, Drake being such an ass makes it all the easier to enjoy his counterparts, who DO have to guide him.

    • Brinstar says:

      I love their commentary when you’re playing multiplayer. Elena just sounds so giddy when she screams “I got the treasure!” it’s great. And Chloe when she tosses a grenade and says, “Hey, loser!”, I chuckle almost every time.

      • oliemoon says:

        It makes me smile every time I hear Chloe sing “I’ve got the treasure!” in her mocking way.

        • Alex says:

          Haha yes, the comments are awesome. Also “Comin’ atcha!” when Elena throws a grenade. They’re the bestttttt.

          One small thing I noticed is when you’re playing single player and change to one of the Chloe/Elena skins, the enemies start using female pronouns (“There she is!” etc). I totally didn’t expect that but it was an awesome little detail.

  3. oliemoon says:

    I was really happy that they opted not to stuff Chloe in the “femme fatale” box. She definitely seems set up for that role in so many ways, but the narrative keeps you second guessing the whole time and in the end she was as compelling a character and three-dimensional as the rest of the main cast.

    Now that it’s established that Nate and Elena are together though, I am worried about what that is going to mean for her character in the third game (like, in order to create relationship conflict that will keep their romance from getting stale, she might get fridged or kidnapped or something and Nate’s motivation in the game is to avenge/save her). Naughty Dog has been pretty good so far about not sticking to genre conventions though, so I tentatively have faith in them.

  4. I’ve played through both games on PS3, and they’re really both SO well done. The women are also both modelled in a realistic (if also Hollywood-slender) way: their breasts are reasonably-sized for their frames, but not identical to each other (that is, the women are differently-shaped, like, gasp, real women!). They’re dressed appropriately for their task and personalities. They are, as you say, quite competent in battle, and are acted with great skill by the two women who provided the motion-capture.

    Definitely will be back to play more of Uncharted as they come out, so long as they continue to provide characters with such thoughtful and respectful characteristics. Great post. :)

  5. Jessoteric says:

    Awesome post! I haven’t tried Uncharted II yet, but I have to say I absolutely love what you wrote. I appreciate when characters (male or female) are realistic and have a well developed personality. :)

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