Naughty Dog has firmly cemented their place in the gaming industry as developers who can make fun games with incredibly engaging stories and characters. Their latest outing, The Last of Us, garnered heaps of 2013 Game of the Year awards but their rise to such fame all started with the Uncharted series. All month long in Gamerlinx we’re discussing the best Sony exclusive video games, and I thought it’d be great to kick things off with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.
Each month the Cinelinx staff will write a handful of articles covering a specified video game-related topic. These articles will be notified by the Gamerlinx banner. Gamerlinx, like our Movielinx counterpart, is an exploration and discussion of our personal connections with the world of gaming. This month our Gamer’s Club is putting the spotlight on Sony’s seminal console, the PlayStation 1, so for Gamerlinx we wanted take a look at the best first-party Sony games to have ever been release (through all generations).
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was the first game Naughty Dog developed for the PlayStation 3 and came out fairly early in the console's life-cycle (back in 2007). When the developers behind Jak and Daxter decided to make a new game for the PS3, they wanted it to be an entirely new IP, rather than another Jak game...for which many gamers are sincerely grateful.
When Uncharted was first announced in 2006, it was used to highlight the power of the "new" Sony hardware and give gamers a taste of what to look forward to. Once it released, it was easy to see how the PS3 was superior to its predecessor, via it's sleek gameplay and visuals. While the Uncharted sequels managed to improve upon just about everything, it's hard to deny the feeling you had upon first seeing Drake's Fortune seven years ago. It was mind-blowing, giving gamers an experience more like a movie than anything that's been presented before.
More than being visually impressive, the game was a lot of damn fun to play. Climbing and exploring ancient ruins while having some impressive shoot-outs, all contained within solid gameplay mechanics, offered up plenty of fun from gamers of all varieties. From a technical standpoint, I feel this is where Uncharted really stood out. Drakes' Fortune is far from the first game to try and combine shooting and action based puzzle solving, but it is one of the first to pull it off so well.
While other games managed to get one of those elements down excellently, other parts of the game seemed to suffer. Naughty Dog set a standard for how similar games should be handled from that point forward and remains a high mark for the action genre in general. It managed to balance the exploration elements along with the fighting/shooting aspects without either feeling shortchanged or compromised in any way. It offered up a very polished experience, and in a time when that generation of consoles was still working through the kinks and hitting their stride.
Forget the technical aspects for a moment and Drake's Fortune has plenty more to offer gamers. The story presents itself as something simple, but takes a couple of unexpected twists to keep you engaged in what was taking place. More than going from level to level because that's what the game required, I was compelled to move forward because I had to know what was going to happen next. I was invested in the story to the point where that's what had me advancing through the game, rather than the gameplay itself. It made a great case for action games as a storytelling medium, whereas before RPGs were the kings of video game stories.
Not to mention how awesome and likeable the characters were. The introduction of mo-cap technology is perhaps one of the greatest things to ever come out of the previous generation consoles. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune took full advantage of this and managed to give us a cast of characters that weren't only interesting, but felt like genuine people. The interactions between the cast elevated the story to another level, and frankly speaking, the chance to see them all again was more of a reason to look forward to a sequel than the gameplay.
Naughty Dog has been a part of Sony since 2001 and they've continued to pay off for the company. While the PS3 floundered in its first year, trailing behind the others, Uncharted was a killer app that made non-PS3 owners envious. It's exactly what the PlayStation 3 needed and it's two sequels kept the fire burning strong.
Since Drake's Fortune released, Naughty Dog has continued to set the bar for moving video games forward in both technical and storytelling faucets. The Last of Us may have come near the end of the console cycle, but it remains impressive and has gamers all over anxious to see what they bring to the table with the PS4. While Sony has a good stable of first-party developers, ND remains one of their strongest...a golden goose if you will. Hopefully that will continue to be the case in the years to come.
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