I have only recently been able to pick up a PlayStation 4, and I thought it would be a good idea to start by playing some of the games I missed due to not owning a PlayStation 3. So I went and picked up Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and The Last of Us. Given that both of these are Naughty Dog games I figured I would start with the oldest game and work my way through and try to see how Naughty Dog has developed over the time it took to create these games.
Going into this collection I was all too aware of how beloved these games are and how well they were received at the time they were launched. I have heard many a person over the years say how much they loved these games, and how excited they were for the release of the next game in the franchise.
Unfortunately for me I didn’t really like these three games that much. This was an odd realisation for me as the setting and story for the uncharted games should be right up my alley. I love the Indiana Jones type of story where someone is set on a journey to uncover a long-lost treasure that turns out to have some mystical properties.
I guess as a concept I love the idea behind each of the stories for the uncharted games, for example finding El Dorado, and Shambala. I do have to say that the story of 3 was probably my favorite as finding a place like Ubar, deep in the desert that is somehow connected to King Solomon, adds up to a great idea.
However Uncharted 3 also ends in a similar way to the previous two games, where we find out that the treasure being searched for is unbelievably dangerous. My biggest problem here is that we are never given an explanation as to why, or how these artifacts have the power they do. They are destroyed or hidden with no explanation. I don’t at all mind that they are destroyed as in these types of stories that is always the outcome, but I always felt like I needed something more to be said about the artifacts themselves.
Perhaps part of my problem was playing these three games in succession over a week, where they were the only games that I played. In doing so I saw similarities between the games that felt almost like a template to me. These similarities make the games feel like they run together in my memory, making it difficult to remember in which game a particular sequence took place.
I think if I had played these games when they were current I would have loved them the same as everyone else. This is because of the simple fact that at the time there were no other games like this out on the market. Whereas now I have already played games like the Tomb Raider reboot, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, that to me are much better games.
I realise that this might seem strange loving the Tomb Raider games so much when they are known for having average stories when the uncharted series is beloved for its story telling. I think for me it is the combination of story and gameplay together that make the game better. I love the game play in the new Tomb Raider series, it is just plain fun and I never get bored with how it plays.
Uncharted on the other hand, I found myself frustrated by the gameplay. Platforming and puzzle solving was fine, but the combat felt like a series of wave based arena battles. Each time I went into a new area and there was a pillar lying halfway across a hallway, I knew I would be fighting my way back out, as I could tell that pillar was supposed to be used for cover. So as I went through the games I found myself liking combat less and less, as each time it only felt like a way to increase time spent between set pieces.
The strangest thing for me, is that although I didn’t care for the story of these three uncharted games, I love the characters. The quick-witted thief that is Nathan Drake, The wizened Mentor that is Victor Sullivan, Elena Fisher and her strength in taking her experiences with Nate in Uncharted 1 and using that to improve herself, and grow even more fearless as the series moves on. I also loved Chloe Frazer, as among these larger than life characters, she was the one reacting how I think a person normally would in her situation.
I believe that a big reason for this is the use of fantastic voice actors that are able to bring out the personalities of these character so well. Some of these actors are Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Richard McGonagle as Victor Sullivan, Emily Rose as Elena Fisher, and Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer. Of course it helps that I am a fan of Emily Rose as Audrey Parker in Haven, and Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran in Stargate-SG1.
Given that I like the characters so much I am still waiting in anticipation for Uncharted 4 when it releases on May 10 2016. I hope that this supposed conclusion to Nathan Drakes story can fix the problems I have had with the story in Uncharted, even if it doesn’t I can’t wait to be see how these characters develop further. I just hope none of my favorites die, but that seems unlikely when the title of the game is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.