A reader charts their journey with Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, from scepticism through to it becoming an all-time favourite.
Mild spoilers ahead!
I originally dismissed Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune as Tomb Raider with a bloke in it, crossed with Gears Of War’s cover shooting – it just didn’t seem to offer anything new.
Over time I kept hearing positive things about it from people who had played it, including how much they loved the characters, so in early 2009 when it was part of Sony’s Platinum budget range I took a chance on it and have never looked back!
Yes, you could see the Tomb Raider and Gears influences, but to me it felt far more. I enjoyed the amount of combat in it compared to Tomb Raider and felt that Nate was far more athletic than the musclebound Marcus Fenix! The game was a light breezy adventure romp with relatable, likeable characters and I adored it!
Looking back now it has aged the most in the series, with the combat and climbing sections very separate, unlike the later entries, and the jet ski controls far from perfect. But I still love it as it introduced me to the world of Nathan Drake, Elena Fisher, and Victor Sullivan.
After playing the first game in early 2009 I couldn’t wait till later in the year for the second game, I pre-ordered it and played it on release day!
Wow! Everything I loved about the first game had been improved. Combat and climbing were far more blended, the characters I knew and loved were developed far more, and we had some new ones too, including Chloe Frazer. I felt there was far more at stake in this game too, thanks to the sinister villain Lazarevic. (Brilliantly brought to life by Graham McTavish, who would later be Cutter in the third game!)
It became and still is one of my favourite games of all time – a brilliant sequel!
Which leads on to Uncharted 3, which I love but would rate as my least favourite of the Naughty Dog games. How on earth could they ever top the brilliance of 2?! They couldn’t, but 3 still had some epic action whilst delving into Nate’s history with Sully. Elena had a reduced role this time round, due to Emily Rose (the actress who voices/mocaps her) being committed to filming the TV series Haven for a large chunk of the year.
Even in this reduced role she still proved a pivotal part of the game as yet again (despite things not going well between her and Nate) she had Mr Drake’s back when he needed her most and their scenes together, as always, gave the game such heart.
I will mention Golden Abyss as it’s a perfect example of how not to do Uncharted! This was made by Sony Bend, not Naughty Dog, and it showed! I wanted it to work, to have Nate on my handheld for on the go action, but it felt like a tech demo for the PS Vita with too many touchscreen and gyroscope bits needlessly shoehorned in. The action felt like a ‘best of’ and the story/characters came off as weak, especially the love interest Marisa Chase who was certainly no Elena or Chloe!
Finally, we have Uncharted 4 which I was initially worried about. Amy Hennig (who was responsible for so much of the previous games’ success) was gone. Now we had the team behind The Last Of Us in charge, would they be able to match the light-hearted vibe of the previous games?
Uncharted 3 had given our heroes a happy ending, was this ‘one last time’ going to trash all of this? In the build up to the release there was much talk and speculation of main characters dying. I really didn’t want my happy Uncharted memories ruined, I had grown to love these characters so much.
Thankfully when the game came out it didn’t disappoint, blending more awesome action with quieter character driven moments (a quick round of Crash Bandicoot anyone?) and of course that epilogue where you get to see Nathan Drake in a very different light, through someone else’s eyes.
I will admit, soppy mare that I am, when the credits rolled and that familiar music swelled I was crying!
Thank you Naughty Dog for my favourite series of all time. Oh, and Miss Frazer? Good luck, you have some very big boots to fill!
By reader LastYearsModel09 (PSN ID)