Rewind to the Christmas of 2007 for a minute – I, a relatively new Playstation 3 owner, with only a small handful of titles played including the likes of Resistance: Fall of Man, Motorstorm and Heavenly Sword, all great Playstation exclusive games that I had a lot of fun with… But not quite enough to turn my attention away from the high flying Xbox 360 that me and my friends had been playing strong since the Christmas of 2005.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Xbox 360 satisfied my HD gaming needs for a while, but I’ve always seen myself as a loyal Playstation fan, and could not wait to get my hands on the upcoming admittedly overpriced PS3, but that time had come and gone… And the 360 was undoubtedly winning the console war. In steps Naughty Dog’s brand new IP, Uncharted: Drakes Fortune – Along with many others, I think my first reaction to this game was one of a little confusion as to why the makers of my childhood favourite, Crash Bandicoot, were attempting to make a Tomb Raider game. Oh how wrong I was. It wasn’t long before the release that I had my first taste of our new hero, Nathan Drake, in action after managing to get my hands on the demo. Straight away I knew this game was going to be for me. Whether it was the stunning locations, the immensely fun gameplay or the instant connection I felt to the games main characters I knew I finally had a PS3 game I could shout about.
As the years passed, so did my worries about the PS3 and it’s exclusives. After being treated to some absolute gems such as Metal Gear Solid 4, Little Big Planet and Infamous, I was confident enough to finally trade in my now neglected Xbox 360. All sights were now firmly set to the Christmas of 2009 as I counted down the days to the release of the second instalment of my beloved Uncharted – By the time I got my hands on Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, my expectations were boarding on the ridiculous, and once again I was not disappointed. After playing that iconic opening on that bloody gorgeous snow covered mountain side, I knew I was in for another treat. I was blown away by how much Naughty Dog had built on the first game to create this masterpiece that still easily holds up nearly ten years later – One of my fondest gaming memories to this day was completing Uncharted 2 in one giant session, and sitting on my couch watching the credits roll feeling a giant wave of satisfaction and joy… But also immense tiredness.
The following instalment into the series came as no surprise to anyone, when in November 2011 Uncharted: Drakes Deception was released to yet more plaudits. By this point in time it felt like Naughty Dog could do no wrong, and to be fair, they had earned that reputation. You knew that if a title had that famous red paw print on its cover, then you were getting a game that was worth every penny and more. The following year we were even treated to a PS Vita release in the form of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Was it brilliant? Of course it was, and it was the reason I went out and purchased a Vita and I would think that applies to many others as well. The fact that they had managed to get a game the size of Uncharted onto a hand held console was nothing short of outstanding.
At this point the only criticism you could throw at Naughty Dog was that they heavily relied on the Uncharted brand to shift games, and since the 2007 release of the first game they had not ventured into any unknown waters. That was until the release of The Last of Us in June 2013; now is probably a good time to mention that The Last of Us is my favourite video game of all time – I genuinely cannot find a fault with it, and if there is a fault I am not interested in hearing it because the experience of going on that massive emotional and terrifying adventure with Joel and Ellie is something that no other game has ever replicated for me… Though I will throw in an honourable mention to 2018’s God of War for coming the closest to this experience.
But even with the massive success of the The Last of Us, this didn’t mean that Naughty Dog were done with what brought them to the table. Although TLOU was remastered for the newly released Playstation 4, Naughty Dog were yet to make their proper debut on Sony’s new console – In May of 2016, that changed with the highly anticipated release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; this would mark the end of Nathan Drake’s story, and as a long time fan of the series, I could not have asked for a better send off. Keeping true to what made the Uncharted games so fun to play, Uncharted 4 stuck with its core gameplay mechanics but with the power of the PS4 it was able to make the most impressive game in the series to date, all wrapped up within a brilliant and moving story fitting of our heroes final adventure.
It should also be mentioned how much fun the Uncharted spin-off, The Lost Legacy, was; so there we have it, from playing Crash Bandicoot after school as a young lad to trying to hold my emotions together for the climatic end to Nathan & Elena’s story as a fully grown adult; I can say that Naughty Dog have well and truly earned their place at the top of the developers table. So yes, when the announcement of The Last of Us Part 2 was made, I was beside myself with excitement, and will be until I see the credits roll on what will undoubtedly be another fantastic action-adventure masterpiece.