The Uncharted franchise is one of the most well-regarded and epic experiences on the market. Hailed as one of the PS3’s biggest system sellers, its reputation for explosive, blockbuster-like action and personalities has grown the franchise into a juggernaut, even evolving beyond games with the promise of an Uncharted film.
Though each game doesn’t stray too far from its core formula, everyone finds something fresh and exciting to experience as they take control of Nathan Drake. Let’s take a look at what reviewers think makes each game successful and memorable.
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Uncharted: Fight for Fortune – Average Score: 64
The worst-reviewed game in the franchise took a break from the established formula by introducing a turn-based collectible card game. The cards were made up of characters, moments and objects seen in the more mainstream titles, which were usable in a single-player mode against various franchise villains or online multiplayer.
All things considered, the game wasn’t that poorly reviewed. Even its harshest critics praised the concept and depth of the card system. The real criticisms centered on the lack of card balance, the barebones and straightforward presentation and the fact that the game mode itself was very niche and probably not what the average Uncharted fan would be looking for.
Uncharted: Fortune Hunter – Average Score: 77
This free-to-play platform/puzzle mobile game was a companion to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, releasing just five days before the latter game hit store shelves. Despite its supporting status, it still featured over 200 levels, all comprised of a set of solvable mechanisms and a finish line, and six worlds to explore.
Critics found the game surprisingly enjoyable for its puzzle mechanics and visual appeal, but also noted it was strikingly similar to other mobile games like Lara Croft Go. In general, the consensus was that it had enough positives to warrant some short-term attention while fans awaited the console game’s release.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss – Average Score: 81
The enormous success of Uncharted made the franchise the natural pick to provide a launch title for the ill-fated PlayStation Vita. Uncharted: Golden Abyss was a standalone adventure that followed Nathan Drake as he travels to Panama in search of the legendary city of Quivira.
The game was generally well-received, though much of the scrutiny zeroed in on how well the game measured up to its PlayStation 3 counterparts, and how well it made use of the Vita-specific touchscreen and gyroscope. Though most agreed these gimmicky elements didn’t hamper the overall experience, their inclusion wasn’t viewed positively either.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – Average Score: 86
Unlike every other entry in the franchise, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy shifted focus to Drake’s erstwhile love interest, treasure hunter Chloe Frazer. The story follows Frazer and her associates, Nadine Ross and Nathan’s brother Samuel, as they search for the Tusk of Ganesh to prevent an insurgent-led civil war in India.
Though there was nothing truly innovative in its presentation or mechanics, the spectacle, environments and creativity measured up to the series’ high standards. Critics were particularly fond of the development and characterization given to Chloe and Nadine and found that their engaging relationship dynamics often papered over the game’s few cracks. In a post-Nathan Drake world, most found Chloe and Nadine worthy of carrying on the Uncharted story.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – Average Score: 89
Naughty Dog’s first game on the PlayStation 3, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, was initially derided as “Dude Raider” due to its similarities to Tomb Raider. The game won critics over, though, as the story of explorer Nathan Drake’s pursuit of the golden city of El Dorado quickly became one of the PlayStation 3’s premiere exclusives.
The concept quickly earned renown for its grand and polished action sequences and at-the-time industry-leading graphics. Beyond the visual bombast, characters from Nathan to Sully to Atoq Navarro felt unique and fully realized, providing a much-needed heart to a shiny exterior. Though it wasn’t immune to some noticeable gameplay issues, this entry was still strong enough to pave a path for one of gaming’s most ambitious and well-known properties.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Average Score: 93
With a tough act to follow after the acclaim earned by Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, the series’ third entry had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the development team at Naughty Dog was up to the task, producing one of the most flawless thrill rides in gaming history. The setting shifts between a pub in England, a French castle and a journey across the Middle East as Drake pursues the Iram of the Pillars in a race against rival Katherine Marlowe.
The story may have been a bit short and formulaic, and the scripted action sequences may have teetered a bit too far from gaming’s interactive elements, but the final product was undoubtedly greater than the sum of its parts. The beautifully rendered desert environments, frenetic pacing and satisfying combat system were too tantalizing and fun to make it anything but a tour de force, plus it also packed a respectable multiplayer experience.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Average Score: 93
Nathan Drake’s swan song gave the character a sweeping send-off worthy of all the games that came before it. While the game took full advantage of the visual upgrades available for the PlayStation 4, it also didn’t forget to highlight the deeply human relationships, whether between Drake and Elena, his brother Samuel, or his mentor Sully, which reside at the heart of the narrative.
The game’s increased open-world level design and overall complexity led to more strategic encounters in an experience that may well prove to be the standard-bearer for the PS4. Even when the experience recycled the tricks of its predecessors, reviewers pointed out that it did so in a way that didn’t feel tired. In the tradition of the franchise’s grandeur, A Thief’s End pushed gaming itself to a new level, leaving behind a fitting legacy for the beloved adventurer.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Average Score: 96
Most Uncharted games were massive hits, but none seemed to garner the same level of praise or reputation as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Departing from the single island constraint of Drake’s Fortune, the story spanned the mountains of Tibet, a museum in Istanbul and the lush wilderness of Borneo in a Marco Polo-inspired quest for the mythical Cintamani Stone and the city of Shambhala.
Although the mechanics and elements were mostly carried over from the first game, everything seemed to be pushed to the extreme, whether it be the story, the controls, the non-stop action or the beautiful and varied settings. Uncharted 2 may be less impressive now simply because technology has changed, but it was so far ahead of everything else on the market that it truly deserves its legendary status.
KEEP READING: How Uncharted Succeeded Where The Last of Us Failed
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