The gamer in me was pretty guilty about never having properly played an Uncharted game before.
Sure, I certainly had experienced the fast-paced action and the Pitfall-inspired platforming in patches at a few friends’ places every now and then, but never had I actually invested time and money in any of the Uncharted titles the way I had with countless other titles.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake collection was my path to redemption. This was just merely a few weeks after I’d been blown away by the brilliance of The Last of Us from Naughty Dog in its PlayStation 4 remastered version. It was probably the best game I owned, and had enjoyed it more than the dozens of hours I’d invested in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Of course, after having played a narrative and technical masterpiece by Naughty Dog such as The Last of Us, my expectations for Uncharted: TNDC were, well, off the charts (pun, intended).
Obviously, I was going to go in chronological order, starting off with Drake’s Fortune first, then proceeding on to what is often termed as one of the best PS3 games ever in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
Sadly, Drake’s Fortune wasn’t an experience that lasted more than three or four hours. It was apparent from the get-go that the 2007 title hadn’t aged well.
The motion-sickness inducing vibrant greens and admittedly monotonous settings didn’t help in impressing me (and I’m hard to impress), but the biggest let down was the rather poor gameplay.
An hour and a half into the game and I was being swarmed by unintelligent grenade-chugging bullet-sponges, and I quickly learned how utterly useless anything other than handguns and grenades was.
It all became too easy and bland for me from there on. It was simply a matter of staying behind cover, aiming at the head, and tapping R1 once. With some of the bulkier enemies, it was all about tossing a couple of grenades and watching them fly around.
All this was (very briefly) interrupted regularly by some basic platforming and dumbed-down puzzles, and that’s what the four hours of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune experience was.
I was severely disappointed, and as a result shamelessly read the plotline on Wikipedia so I could just jump to Uncharted 2.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune came at a time when the PlayStation 3 was suffering from its all-time low, desperately in need of an exclusive.
It just happened to be the case that the Tomb Raider franchise was also at an all-time low as well, and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune managed to take advantage of both scenarios to present a game that was praised way more than it should have been.
Fortunately, that very appraisal is what gave us Uncharted 2 & 3. After just half an hour into Among Thieves, the difference was evident, and it was clear why Naughty Dog is such a reputable studio.
Uncharted 2 largely fixed the design flaws of its predecessor. The platforming was much more complex from the get-go, the set-pieces were of truly admirable quality, and there was always the additional option of playing with stealth instead of gunning through a few thousand enemies after every three steps.
The best part of Uncharted 2 was that it abandoned confining its linear gameplay to a single setting. The exploration was a great welcome, and I quickly noticed how motion-sickness wasn’t an issue because of more mature colors and varying environments.
Of course, I clearly knew that Uncharted was never a slow-paced, emotionally cathartic and harrowing experience like The Last of Us, which is why it was easy to accept the tons of fights in the sequel.
It was certainly easier than accepting the gameplay offerings of its predecessor because of varied environments and less bullet-spongey enemies, and I quickly realized how I was preferring certain weapons over others instead of solely relying on my handgun.
It was evident why Uncharted 2 was regarded as the best game PlayStation 3 had to offer before The Last of Us arrived.
Now, I’m playing Uncharted 3, which takes a lot of the goods from the second game in the franchise.
It is crystal clear that Naughty Dog utilized the experience from developing the Uncharted franchise in making The Last of Us, and because of that, despite a rather poor start to my Uncharted fandom, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End seems to be on the right track to success, and one of my must-buy games for 2016.