The Uncharted franchise was created exclusively for the PlayStation and the first title, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was released for the PlayStation 3 in 2007, which is 10 years ago!
While Naughty Dog already had two popular PlayStation exclusive franchises to their name, they wanted to create a new IP with the arrival of the PlayStation 3. Something that could better utilise the more powerful hardware of the (then) next-gen console. This is why the Uncharted games look so different from Naughty Dog’s previous work. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on with the Uncharted series, it’s that the games look amazing; easily among the best looking games out there for the PlayStation.
The Uncharted series, in both its setting and the protagonist, Nathan Drake, is heavily inspired by films like Indiana Jones and National Treasure. And the comparisons between Nathan Drake and Tomb Raider Lara Croft also come as no surprise. But that’s not meant to take anything away from the franchise which is still very enjoyable in its own right and comes with a great story to tell.
The first game in the franchise, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 on November 20, 2007. It was a big change from their previous games, featuring photo-realistic graphics and a shooting mechanic more akin to mainstream AAA third-person shooter games.
The game introduces you to adventurer Nathan Drake, who’s in search for the lost city of El Dorado. His quest leads him to an uncharted island, which is where the majority of the game takes place.
Drake’s Fortune did fairly well and was lauded for its visuals and story but critics pointed out that the gunplay was sub-par and there were several technical issues.
Released on October 13, 2009, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is widely considered to be the best game in the series. It’s also considered one of the best PlayStation 3 games of all time, with a rating of 96 on Metacritic, falling behind only Grand Theft Auto IV.
The game featured many more environments and spanned across various different locations from Tibet and Nepal to Borneo and Istanbul. It also introduced stealth and multiplayer into the game.
Among Thieves had Drake on a quest to find the lost city of Shangri-La and the Cintamani Stone which took him to locations around the world. He also had to find said stone before the bad guy did.
According to critics, the game had improved on just about everything from the previous game. You won’t normally find us praising a console exclusive game, but this one was, for lack of a better word, pretty epic.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception released in November 2011 and delved more into Nathan Drake’s back story and his relationship with Victor “Sully” Sullivan, who is both father figure and mentor to him.
This time around, Drake’s in search for the lost city of “Iram of the Pillars” or the “Atlantis of the Sands” in the Arabian Peninsula.
Naughty Dog refined a lot of mechanics in Drake’s Deception, improving on stealth gameplay and further optimising online multiplayer co-op gameplay among other things.
A Thief’s End:
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End released on May 4, 2016, and was the first Uncharted to release for the PlayStation 4. The game was pretty hyped, which is understandable considering the stellar success the franchise has had so far. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the majority of people who purchased a PlayStation 4 also purchased Uncharted 4. You could even say that people bought a PlayStation 4 just to play Uncharted 4.
A Thief’s End further refined the series’ stealth mechanics and multiplayer gameplay. This time around, multiplayer ran @ 60 FPS but at a resolution of 900p. For comparison’s sake, the single player ran @ 30 fps on 1080p resolution.
The game was overall received pretty well and lauded for its visuals.
While combat is the major focus of the Uncharted games, it’s not incredibly complex or difficult. You will find that it’s a combination of simple third-person shooter mechanics and variations of hand-to-hand combat involving button mashing or short QTEs. Gunplay, for the most part, takes place in an over-the-shoulder third-person view which most should be familiar with. Then you have stealth, which utilises a cover system and simple vision-avoiding mechanics.
Other than combat, the game focuses mostly on the traversing aspect, i.e, you cover a lot of ground in these games and lastly the puzzle solving aspect.
Puzzle solving involves platforming elements and interacting with stuff in the environment. Those who’ve played Tomb Raider or Prince of Persia should be more than familiar with the puzzle mechanics in Uncharted.
Uncharted – the verdict
The Uncharted series has made a name for itself and is easily one of the most recognisable franchises out there. With well over 50 awards to its name, several of them being Game of the Year awards, there’s no questioning the series’ worth. Sure it has its technical hiccups every now and then, but if you own a PlayStation there should be nothing stopping you from playing Uncharted if you haven’t already that is.
Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he’s not gaming, he’s… no wait he’s always gaming.