The Uncharted series is easily one of the best action and adventure games made to date. The developers at Naughty Dog continue impress gamers and the industry with their vision for the perfect form of cinematic interactive entertainment. Their latest release, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception raises the bar to new heights for gamers to enjoy, appreciate, and drool over.
Sony had done well giving Naughty Dog the great luxury of complete freedom to create and execute their creative vision for the perfect video game. The resulting work in the Uncharted games impresses the likes of gamers, the video game industry, and the entertainment industry. They have an amazing talent in elevating so many aspects of their games above and beyond what we expect, including but not limited to the following elements; story, characters, level design, graphic visuals, animation, gameplay and sound design. Each of these elements are creatively combined to create that perfectly balanced action adventure game that just blows you way when your playing it.
The story in each of the Uncharted games, Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves, and Drake’s Deception, is greatly entertaining on their own, but combined as a whole, the story arc creates a cohesive compelling narrative that is full of adventure while remaining heart-felt, believable, and very enjoyable. You can see influences from similar action-adventure genres such as Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, The Mummy, and Lawrence of Arabia. Drake’s story stands on its own and leaves plenty of room to branch into other adventures. The stories have you globe-trotting around the world to exotic locals to chase down the dream of Drake’s descendant, the explorer Sir Francis Drake.
Strong believable characters that you can relate to, bond with, and care about is a core strength and a key reason to the success in the Uncharted games. Over the years I’ve enjoyed a lot of video games with many fantastic characters, however none of them feel more real and alive than Nathan Drake, Victor Sullivan, and Elena Fisher. In each of the Uncharted games I’ve felt they breathe life into the games through their subtle imperfections and passions that makes you believe in them.
Naughty Dog has an exceptional creative vision in creating some of the most spectacular levels and set pieces. When you enter some of them your jaw drops in awe as you stop to look around at how beautiful and amazing everything looks. It’s not just the tombs either, almost every level of the games has a few spots that have you taking a moment to look around at the beauty. By mixing in realistic locations of towns or villages that eventually lead into a tomb or crypt adds credibility thus feels more believable because you’ve been setup for it perfectly. They do a good job of balancing the levels together to keep you believing its all plausible and real.
Combine great character and level designs with one of the best graphic engines to date and you’ll see why the Uncharted games are considered as one of the visual powerhouses on Sony’s Playstation 3.
In the first game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Naughty Dog mastered the graphics engine to create a lush living jungle. In Uncharted: Among Thieves they mastered snow and how it interacts as your character moves through it. In a blizzard the snow would build up on Nathan’s hair, face, and body just as you would expect in real life. Then in Uncharted: Drake’s Deception they mastered the art of sand and fire. Lots of sand, think Sahara desert with nothing but dunes of sand. How the sand would blow across the surface and into the air feels very natural, how it moves as you walk across it, and how it builds up in your hair as the wind blows sand into it. Then with fire they burn a huge chateau building in one of the levels as you traverse through it. The way the fire moves up the walls, across the ceiling, and throughout the entire building looks and feels very natural.
Throughout all the games the other two areas they continued to visually improve are water and dirty clothes. The Uncharted games is still one of the few games where your characters get wet when they enter the water. If you walk in a small creek up to your knees, when you walk out, from you knees down, your clothes and shoes appear wet as you would expect in real life. There might be a few other games that make the character wet when coming out of the water, but none have done it so well as Naughty Dog has done with the Uncharted games. It’s a great example of small subtle effects that ads to believability to the games.
Dirty clothes, while you wouldn’t normally think of it in video games, Naughty Dog has done exceptionally well in making dirty clothes look great. When you look at the characters, especially Nathan Drake, his clothes look like they are borrowed from a hobo that has lived on the streets for a least a month. His shirts are stained, dirty, torn, dusty, and wet all at once, but some how Naught Dog makes it look very natural and realistic. They are lived in and look as you would expect for someone who’s been jumping, crawling, climbing, swimming, and running from bullets in their clothes for days on end. They have mastered it so well that it looks cool and makes you want to get your shirts dirty to look as good as they do in the Uncharted games.
They must have a team dedicated to making the characters and their clothes look fantastically dirty.
The level of motion captured animations throughout all the games is impressive. Rarely do you notice repeated animations in the main characters, the way Nathan takes cover or jumps over a wall is always different. He always has a slightly different stance or angle when taking cover, then when walking he looks around, he touches the walls if you get to close, walking up and down stairs is very fluid and feels very natural. It’s clear that Naughty Dog has spent a great deal of effort in perfecting their animations. Again, it is these small subtle details that enhances the gameplay experience and adds to the believability into the characters and the story.
Bringing all the above elements together is exceptional sound design, fantastic voice acting, and a beautiful music score. The Uncharted games have a great cast of voice acting led by Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Richard McGonagle as Victor Sullivan, and Emily Roseas Elena Fisher. The sound design and score in each of the games is on par with any great blockbuster movie, all of which enriches the story and gameplay for an unforgettable experience. These games are meant to be enjoyed on big high-definition screens and home theater surround sound systems.
For me Naughty Dog has created the perfect series of action and adventure games with the Uncharted series.
The Uncharted games continue to get better and better with each chapter, and as a combined whole, the gaming experience it is unparalleled. The only other games that come close are the Mass Effect and Halo series. Naughty Dog has matured and evolved over the years from the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter games to an amazing collection of Uncharted games. No doubt they know what they are doing when it comes to creating great gaming experiences. Every element throughout the games has a great deal of thought and effort put into the game design to ensure that everything comes together perfectly to create an incredibly rich and enjoyable gaming experience. One that you’ll think about after completing and want to play through again. While the games are fairly linear, they have a lot of layers to experience, it can be easy to miss things on your first play through.
I’ve been fortunate to experience and enjoy many great games and I’m grateful to be able to experience the Uncharted games. It’s easily in my top 10 games and I look forward to seeing what Naughty Dog brings to us next.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Launch Trailer
- Uncharted Official Site
- Naughty Dog
- Naughty Dog on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr
- Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on Amazon
- IGN Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception review (10)
- Game Informer Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception review (9.5)
- GameTrailers Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception review (9.6)
- Uncharted on Wikipedia
Have you played the Uncharted games? What are your thoughts on it? Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for reading.