The Uncharted series has been by far my favourite set of games to have come out of this generation so far. Nathan Drake is such a fantastic character, funny, charismatic, but flawed. You root for Drake and want to see him succeed, no matter what the costs. His relationship with his father figure and mentor Victor Sullivan is one that has flourished throughout the 3 games released on Sony’s Playstation 3, particularly in the third installment, Drake’s Deception, where the relationship between the two is explored in more depth, by re-visiting the past to the time when they first met. I haven’t experienced many games this generation that has had better character development, and is a true testament to the talent that Naughty Dog studios has. Alas not forgetting the beautiful graphics, astonishing set pieces and fluid gameplay and Uncharted has always had the markings of a winner written all over it.
However, 3 games into the home console series, and another game heading to Sony’s brand new Playstation Vita, courtesy of Sony Bend, and there is a sense that Nathan Drake and Co are beginning to outstay their welcome.
The backlash began with Drake’s Deception. Despite getting some terrific reviews, the game was dogged early in it’s release because of the awkward aiming controls and the lack of motion blur which made the jaggies in the graphics a lot more pronounced. These are issues that certainly put off many, even our own resident Brooklyn, who refused to finish the game until the game was patched. Despite still being a great game and one of the best of 2011, it missed out on the coveted Game of the Year award, being edged out by Bethesda’s superb but severely broken Skyrim.
It begs the question, where does Uncharted go from here?
My opinion is that it’s time for the series to take a break. I’m looking forward to playing Golden Abyss on Vita, but for the PS3, I don’t think there is anymore that can be done with the series on current hardware. I think Naughty Dog are aware of it too. Drake’s Deception had to released because of how well received Uncharted 2 was. Gamer’s wanted another entry to the series and for the most part Naughty Dog delivered, but announcing The Last of Us at the VGA’s could prove to be Uncharted’s saving grace.
This new IP gives Naughty Dog the chance to create something new, explore different genre’s, gameplay options and storytelling techniques. It also gives the fans of Uncharted time to let the series breathe and enjoy the success it’s had.
My problem with Drake’s Deception, is that despite being a great game in it’s own right, it wasn’t the massive leap forward that Among Theives was from Drake’s Fortune, so instead it came off feeling as more of the same, suffering from ‘been there, done that’ syndrome.
Naughty Dog now has the chance to go away and focus on creating The Last of Us, gathering ideas, and when Sony inevitably announce the PS4, they may just be ready to unleash another Uncharted to the world. The increase in hardware capabilities and the knowledge ND gain from The Last of Us project will in turn help push Uncharted forward and make it feel fresh again.
I don’t want to see Uncharted fall from grace like Tomb Raider unfortunately did. It could takes years to claw back it’s reputation if it does. So taking a few years off will help the series as a whole, and when Drake does return, the world will be ready to welcome him back with open arms