Saim Cheeda is an entertainment writer whose work can be found across numerous publications.
The Uncharted series has grown to be the premier video game franchise since its inception back in 2007. Arguably the first AAA title to hit the PlayStation 3 at the time, it reset the bar when it came to action-adventure platformers that had originally been made by the Tomb Raider series.
But Uncharted has excelled in bringing to life a spectacle on the gaming screens of fans around the world, as it blends the blockbuster popcorn flicks we love along with the likes of Indiana Jones with exhilarating gameplay of its own design, making it one of the most beloved franchises out there and cementing creator Naughty Dog as (pun intended) the big dog of the gaming industry.
However, when the only way is up, there tends to be an imbalance in the minds of the fans who seek to enjoy these games. And when the bar is set sky-high, some follow-ups just can't soar to those limits. To this end, let's see where the Uncharted games rank as compared to one another.
4. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
This game is a classic case of bad timing combined with a product that has not aged well. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception had the most unfortunate task of following up tot he universally acclaimed previous installment. So it was bound to be wide in focus upon release. Unfortunately, due to Naughty Do wanting to better their previous attempt, they ended up making the mistake of attempting the "bigger is better" approach, which didn't translate well.
The story was a mess, wherein Drake's ring played an important role involving a mystery over his youth. Also in focus was his long-serving mentor, Sully. On the face of it, it might seem interesting, but the execution was all over the place. Characters jumbled in and out without finding their footing in the plot while the main antagonists just didn't fulfill their potential due to this zig-zagging style of the story. The resolution for the story wasn't satisfactory either as you might just question what it was all about and if it was even worth all the effort.
The intent clearly was to drive home some personal stakes for Drake in this adventure, but it never reached the mark. Gameplay-wise, the attempt was to showcase richer environments and puzzles but resulted in numerous "I wish I could skip this level" moments. Combat was a chore, and the simpler style of previous games was missed.
That's not to say the game was bad, but in comparison to the rest of the series, Drake's Deception definitely bags the wooden spoon.
3. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
It was a close call between the first part and the most recent one, but I decided that Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was a notch lower because of elements out of its control. And that is its age. Due to being the oldest of the lot, it just doesn't have as many features or "wow" moments as the rest of the series.
But this is the game that started it all, and the fact that it knocked it right out of the park is the reason why we've gotten this far. Drake's Fortune perfectly introduced Nate to the world with his likable personality coupled with witty quips that we've come to adore. The game does have its flaws as well in the form of hordes of enemies that just won't die unless you exhaust all your ammo or levels such as the one where you jet ski upriver; one of the more frustrating levels to play. But this was because the series needed to find its footing and was easily overlooked at the time of release.
What's even more impressive is how well Drake's Fortune holds up after all these years and, save for the graphics, you wouldn't feel as if you're playing a game more than a decade old. As for the story, it delivered the plot style that works best, with the protagonist dealing with something that's personal to him, but the plot also doesn't waste time trying to detail some darker inner demons to uncover. It was a pure adrenaline rush that was comfortable to get along with.
Drake's Fortune ensured fans would want more of this and enable Naughty Dog to take a few more liberties for the future to deliver even better experiences.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
All good things must come to an end, right? Unfortunately, the Uncharted series seems to have ended too soon. We could definitely have had many more of these without getting bored. But it's also a good thing because you don't want over-saturation to spoil a beloved character, and perhaps too many of these would've done exactly this.
Yet we still got the best of last hurrahs in the form of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, and that is something that can never be tarnished. It delivers on all levels, and what little flaws it has can be overlooked as this is Nate's last outing. With the PlayStation 4 finally debuting an Uncharted game, you would be remiss if you thought it wouldn't be as good or better as the previous games.
What we got was a deeply emotional tale between brothers and a final adventure for our beloved treasure hunter. And despite that, the game still has a truckload of laughs and light moments to keep us entertained. We finally uncover all layers of the main character and are introduced to a superb supporting one in the form of his brother Sam.
Naughty Dog knew exactly what we wanted and presented that to the fans. The gameplay left nothing to be wanted more as numerous set pieces were at our disposal. All big moments packed together for a big punch and, more importantly, a clear resolution to the series that would make you applaud.
The only reason why the game doesn't capture the top spot is that it's just not possible to usurp the position from the game that currently holds it. If it were a standalone feature, there would be none better.
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
You knew this was coming. Forget the Uncharted series, any time a discussion over the best games of all time is brought up, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is sure to be on the tips of most people's tongues.
This is the game that truly blew everyone's minds, not just upon release, but on the release of its first footage. I still remember watching E3 2009 and staring in awe at the high pumping action and chase sequence. And I remember thinking then, "I must have this." You just can't go wrong with this game.
The story of Uncharted 2 is the most simplistic of all, and that's why it shines so bright. There's no backstory to discover and no hidden agendas, just a race for the most dangerous prize in the world, hidden in one of the most mythical settings of Shambala. It's like experiencing a blockbuster action flick in real-time.
One-upping the original in more ways than you could count, the gameplay was amazing. It wasn't the first of its kind, but it was the first to perfect it. You can't find any part of it that is skip-worthy. It introduced to the series the large scale environments that required you to interact with them n order to progress further. And multiple settings, each contributing to the plot, whether it was icy tundra of Tibet or lush lands of Shambala or war-torn Nepal. The action pulled you in wherever it went.
Perfectly employing the use of media res, the game familiarized you with the core characters and subtly introduced new ones along with a memorable villain. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the premier when it comes to games, and it rightfully takes the top spot.
© 2017 Saim Cheeda