Uncharted Has No Constant

Despite how many accolades A Thief’s End may receive, no matter the number of Game of the Year awards it receives or the very fact that it will sell like hotcakes, Uncharted has no constant and is mired by the fact that it tries to be so many different things it’s not. It tries to be a dramatic story, it tries be a piece of art, it tries to be engaging, it tries to be emotional and even has some soap opera-like moments, but they all fall flat. The game never hits the correct notes. It has no constant. Uncharted has even been described by Naughty Dog as being Indiana Jones-esque, which is actually just a bit laughable, but Uncharted actually takes most of its inspiration in the video game world from the early Tomb Raider games. Ironically, in turn, it helped inspire the Tomb Raider reboot. While the series is decent and the game isn’t awful, Uncharted tries to be so many different things that it has no clear identity and it has been surpassed by the very thing that it now inspired and was inspired by.

Just because a game sells well or wins numerous Game of the Year awards does not mean a game is actually great. While this is not an inherently bad thing, Uncharted draws its inspiration from a number of different media, but Uncharted has no constant. It has all the variables, as LOST would put it, but it never makes these its own. Ironically it actually inspired the reboot of the Tomb Raider series, which has now surpassed Uncharted solely on the basis is that it has the freedom a video game should. The problem is is that Naughty Dog never took advantage of these inspirations and set Uncharted apart from them; the series is merely an imitation. It lacks identity and it’s just a muddled up version of multiple different inspirations without a constant of its own.


Uncharted 4, for instance, wants to be a game. But it also wants to be a piece of art, an immersive film (it’s not), and an emotionally engaging story with interesting characters (it’s not). Uncharted has no constant on the very basis that it is none of the things that it’s trying to be. Nathan Drake isn’t cool; he’s a poor man’s Indiana Jones, nothing more, nothing less. His wisecrack jokes are not funny and the character is completely superficial. Uncharted 4 doesn’t even feel like a game. You go from chapter to chapter, no way back, very little room to explore (if any), solve some incredibly simple puzzles, and then on to the next chapter; oh, and on the side there’s some of the most rudimentary gunplay you can find in any third-person shooter. All of this is in between some rather long cutscenes. So from my point of view — or rather the first thing I asked myself when playing Uncharted 4 was — is this even a game? They then went with the soap opera card, revealing Nathan has a dead brother but he’s miraculously not dead despite all logic. I had no emotional investment in it whatsoever.


I know people who are fans of Uncharted hate to admit it, but the early Tomb Raider games had a huge influence on the premise of the Uncharted series, moreso than any other game. The ironic thing is, the tables have turned. The Tomb Raider reboots have surpassed the games that inspired the series’ comeback, and that series, in turn, inspired Uncharted to begin with. As a video game, the new Tomb Raider is better due to the simple fact that it is a video game and you have so much more freedom. After exploring areas you encounter you can use fast travel to re-visit these areas and explore further, collecting treasures and exploring numerous tombs (my favorite part of the game) while upgrading your gear. It gives you choice. Uncharted is a film (not a great one) masquerading as a video game. The only logical conclusion is that Uncharted has no constant and lacks an anchor to give it originality. If it were released as a film, it would be panned as being a poor man’s Indiana Jones. It is not engaging and takes the player out of the game because of the plethora of cutscenes and linear progression of the game.


Lara Croft is a much more interesting character than Nathan Drake. Lara Croft is an incredibly strong female lead and an accomplished young woman as an archaeologist, which makes her intelligence and her resourcefulness believable. She is a real person with real struggles. That is much more interesting to me than a thief who is a wannabe archaeologist, as knowledgeable as he may be, who is trying to make a wisecrack joke every minute or so when we all know that only Harrison Ford can pull this off. Nathan Drake is such a superficial character and just not believable.

Uncharted is barely a  video game. A Thief’s End is a film that, for the most part, pretends it is a video game and it doesn’t even do it that well. It was inspired by the original Tomb Raider games and Indiana Jones, but the series was never able to find its own identity and bring something more to the table. It had the variables, but Uncharted has no constant. Nathan Drake pales in comparison to both Lara Croft and Indiana Jones and doesn’t feel real, even in the series’ fourth installment. Uncharted 4 is not a terrible game (at least the parts that are a game ), but, it’s not incredibly good either. It’s actually a great thing Naughty Dog is ending the series here because it needs to be put to bed.


80 thoughts on “Uncharted Has No Constant

  1. wait, the new Tomb raider with “countless tombs”? are we even playing the same game? Anyway i don’t think you should talk about identity crisis by comparing Uncharted with “Rebooted Tomb Raider”


  2. Amy Hennig (Former Crystal Dynamics) did a fantastic job when she created Uncharted. At a time when Tomb Raider was stagnant. Uncharted created its own identity by being a cover based shooter first, platformer second.

    She left and the Last of Us team created 4. I love Neil Druckmann’s vision and serious nature with massive amounts of attention to detail. That is what made TLOU so great. Combine the two and you get U4. WIN for us.

    You keep referencing the Tomb Raider Re-boot. There was not a single puzzle in that game, it had 8 Mini Tombs. Just the clock tower scene in U4 alone kills The TR Re-boot. As for the scene after that…

    I have not played the new Tomb Raider so I cant compare that to U4 thanks to its exclusivity even tho its a sequel to a multi platform game. But I am sure Lara has regained the mantle in the adventure platformer category and bought back vast Tombs with visually stunning puzzle solving.

    P.S. The Tomb Raider Re-Boot also stole from Uncharted. Set pieces of running, falling, sliding and crashing for 5 minutes at a time for example.


  3. Tomb Raider has surpassed uncharted? not in sales, graphics, story, action, voice acting or anything really. tomb raider is great and all but in no way has it surpassed uncharted.


  4. Deary me. Looks like someone desperately needs hits.

    ‘Nathan Drake pales in comparison to Lara Croft.’ Except Nathan Drake feels like a real character and we’ve had so many versions of Lara Croft I don’t know which is the real one anymore.


  5. Morgan Lewis; nothing we can really do to you that genetics hasn’t already done. Too bad your article is getting any attention, as it is as crappy as your writing and desperation for anyone to come visit this crappy site.


  6. Worse than a broken clock…

    Uncharted is what it wants to be, the only failure is the writers understanding…

    the original UC plays nothing like tomb raider, ppl still pretending tomb raider was a cinematic action game has no idea what they are talking about.

    The new tomb raider games are bad, UC4s presentation is exceptional and its story is head and shoulders above TRs… TR games never had any good stories or characters not Lara, both games feature super basic cover and shoot mechanics and are weak on the gameplay front.

    The first few TR games had actual puzzles and exploration unlike uncharted, the formula for them was legit but Lara doesnt have any actual talent behind her anymore, just a team ordered to copy off another successful series and let the main character sell the game to her fans that have endured super shitty YR instalment after another (pre reboot bad)


  7. I feel like I just read the same paragraph 5 times over. This is one of the most poorly written articles I have read in a long time. And as much as you feel like the game is a fraud, you do not go into any detail other than “it doesn’t have an identity.”


  8. lol this editor couldn’t stand the epicness of what Uncharted 4 is, so the only thing is capable to write is complete idiocy to grab attention, so sad.


  9. This is the same thing warren spector said not too long ago. This is spot on. This is why the jak franchise was the last one I loved from naughty dog. These games are decent with good graphics but I have to interest in replaying them once I complete them.


  10. Dude, this feels like an elementary essay. The worst thing is, you are probably intelligent but had no real opinion and arguments to communicate. Tabloid gaming journalism at its finest. You should find another hobby.


    • There’s a reason for the structure and I hate that I was sort of forced into it. I don’t completely agree but I do get what you’re saying. I’m fine with journalism thanks. You can contact me it you want to know more.


    • I actually screwed up here. I tried something new but re-reading it it backfired so I removed the problem for the most part


  11. Something tells me you think this game is a fraud and that TR has now surpassed it…

    I don’t quite know why I get this impression, it could be that you repeat yourself several times, as if each time you do so will some how make your opinion a fact (it doesn’t)…

    But I don’t know…

    I like how you have to discredit any sort of praise it gets, that part really backs up your point.

    On a serious note…

    Great that’s your opinion, your entitled to it, unfortunate that you didn’t enjoy the game like millions of others have, but hey that’s life, different tastes.

    But just because a handful of people don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve its praise.

    If you made something and a million people liked it and a thousand people didn’t would you believe those thousand people who say your work was rubbish?

    I doubt you would.


    • my guess is he had to hit a certain amount of words to publish it. I remember running into those problems when writing school papers when i first had to meet a word minimum in middle or high school, it’s tough sometimes 😉


    • He’s actually a diehard Nintendo fanboy, just look at his other articles:

      “The Nintendo Wii U Has the Best Library of Games”
      “Xenoblade Chronicles X is the Best JRPG to Come Out in Years”
      “Nintendo’s E3 Move is Genius”
      “The Upcoming Legend of Zelda will be Perfect”
      “Ocarina of Time is Still the Greatest Game of All Time”
      “Twilight Princess HD Review (Wii U) — An Unappreciated Masterpiece”
      “The Wii U Has the Best Exclusives of This Console Generation”
      “The Last of Us is Not a Great Video Game”
      “Skyward Sword is the Best Zelda Game”
      “Why Nintendo will be Successful in 2016”

      Obviously, he’s angry about the utter failure of the Wii U, and lashing out at PS4 games try to make himself feel better.


  12. The the only thing even remotely correct in this article is the quote “it inspired a toms raider reboot” Where do they get these journos? Game of the year is decided by numerous game devs, and other peers in the gaming industry. Not a flashy marketing campaign. Uncharted isn’t perfect. But it has more going for it than I suppose a site that tries click baiting just to get views and fiery responses. You sir have a right to an opinion but that doesn’t mean you are correct in what you say. I think you really need to actually get your eyes and senses tested. Tomb Raider doesn’t come close to Uncharteds’ storyline, visuals, audio, character models, animations, sales. should I go on? Yes that is my opinion but it is also the opinion of about 90% of those in the industry and those that actually played the game


  13. You said that Uncharted has taken inspiration from Classic Tomb Raider, but then inspirated the reboot of Tomb Raider…which it (Tomb Raider) has an idenity crisis. from each iteration it has not had that gameplay that defined it. But at least Uncharted has been consistant throughout. Action, story set pieces is the formula of Uncharted. Tomb Raider never had hunting or survival but now it does with raiding tombs. You Sir do not know much about these games.


  14. The only fraud here is this article, clearly click bait garbage written by a pathetic tasteless nerd. A very poor attempt at receiving attention with a ridiculous article written by an idiot. An embarrassment for an already embarrassing website. Move on now, nothing to see here.


  15. I love the Uncharted series. I thought Uncharted 2 was the best entry, though I have yet to finish A Thief’s End. The writer of this article is being harsh, the game isn’t a fraud, but there are some points to be made there. As I get further into the game, I feel as though I am watching a movie. As a player I have absolutely no freedom outside of the small shooting sections. So far the puzzles are cool, but they are incredibly easy. The game holds your hand on the normal difficulty. I feel they have gotten lazy with the climbing sections, as it is just blatantly obvious where you are supposed to go, so I feel like I am just going through the motions. Now, I did understand that this is how the game would play out. I knew what I was getting myself into, the Uncharted series has always been cinema first, gameplay second, and it has always been enjoyable. This game is no exception. I am definitely enjoying it, but I am glad it is the end. I don’t think I could get through an Uncharted 5 without an incredible story driving it.

    I don’t think this click-bait article is being completely fair to the game and all the work that went into creating it. The game is visually stunning, and the story is interesting, but I’m a sucker for these types of adventures that involve history and exploring. I could agree that introducing his brother was weird to me at first, but they have done a well enough job making me care about their relationship so far. I can’t comment on the Tomb Raider comparisons because I haven’t even finished the first reboot yet.


  16. What an awful article. Despite the inspirations and similarities between Uncharted and TR, you can’t compare the two just because Lara is “smarter” than Drake since she’s an archaeologist. What a stupid point of view. Uncharted is about this flawed male character who is obsessed with treasure hunting and how greed destroys great men. TR is about an archaeologist who searches for relics with an accomplished team. So what was the point of this article even?


  17. Writters getting on the hate train in hopes of getting more reads for their articles. Got to hit that quota. What better way than to write a bate piece on a AAA game with a huge fan base. It’s not personal everyone, it’s just business as usual.


  18. There’s quite a few points in there i’d go over if i was articulate enough.. but all repetitiveness aside, you make some decent points and I agree on how the tables have turned. Personally, i could never invest interest in Uncharted, i bought all 3 when I got my ps3.. (a little late dont take my cred away.. o please!) and it was like you said just, fake, didnt seem genuine. One thing though, I find it ironic how you criticize Nathan Drake as being an unreal character, or “superficial and not believable” but isnt that the same criticisms Tomb Raider got before it got taken seriously? Also, it’s not real life, it’s a video game, some of us have had enough of real life and like to be able to immerse oneself in a romantacized/dramatized character who isnt totally real because it would make tasks in so many games impossible! I see your point, and I think there is a time and place for these believable characters and Nathan Drake pales in comparision to Lara Croft due to political Correctness now a days, her amazing feets wer always the same, she was a bad***, and even at the tender age of 7 I enjoyed those games. i watched more than played because it was too hard, but still, I think your starting to argue against yourself a little man.


    • I actually do want to add, the first 2 did seem to retain that Naughty Dog feel, the puzzle solving or just how the game played out reminded me of crash bandicoot and gave me that quintasential, nostalgic, Playstation felt I only felt with those Naughty Dog games. I cant speak for the new ones or really anything past 45 minutes of the first 2, didnt even start the 3rd. But if art is about envoking feelings, the first 2 gave rise to feelings of beating Cortex, ducking and dodgin’ them Nitro barrels, yee-haw!


    • Haha I see what you did there. You chose a group of people and said something that, in your mind, lowers them, so you can feel superior. How delightfully original!


      • Wrong. I see an obvious clickbait article and a bunch of very sensitive sony fanboys reacting very poorly and very angrily to it. It’s funny to me because fanboys are pathetic babies. You sound a tad perturbed by my comment. Can I get you a tissue, Sir?


  19. Uncharted’s fraudulence is only surpassed by this article’s terribleness… oh, and everything else. I’ll give you the point that Nate comes off as shallow at times with his frequent one-liners and a few other things. However, your disdain for a character does not make that character unrealistic. Don’t be a dick.


  20. Haven’t video games been attempting to be far superior to film for a long time. Uncharted surpasses all those attempts, and you knock them for it?

    Being a long time video game player, I find this summary appalling and offensive,

    Go play Angry Birds… Oh wait, that’s turning into a movie.


  21. I have played and enjoy both franchises, but if there’s one metric I can rely on for judging the quality of each, it’s how memorable they are.

    With Uncharted, I can remember the majority of locations throughout the series and the order in which they occur (and the reasons for visiting them); I can approximately remember many of the layouts and the events that took place in them. I can name almost every major character and villain. I can remember various puzzles and other smaller details throughout the series.

    And as for Tomb Raider? It’s nothing more than a blur in my memory. I’m seriously struggling to name even one character other than Lara Croft. I can barely remember any specific locations; only general environments like forests, caves, mountains, etc. and I can’t remember any specific details about them at all, nor can I remember many story moments in the game.

    Sure, Tomb Raider was enjoyable, but it’s just a throwaway compared to Uncharted.

    As for gameplay elements, it’s kind of silly to complain about not having fast-travel or freedom in Uncharted. What purpose would fast-travel serve in Uncharted? It would be like complaining that DOOM doesn’t have fast travel (the original; I have no idea about the new one); there simply isn’t a reason for the game to have that feature. And if you REALLY want to revisit previous locations in Uncharted, well, the game has Chapter Select for that.


  22. Well, I’d never heard of Video Games Culture HQ before now, and I never will again. Incredibly, their Founder and Editor-in-Chief can’t even write a halfway decent clickbait article, so it’s clear they have absolutely nothing to say (and even if they did, well, if their Editor-in-Chief has the writing style of a 7th grader then you can only imagine what the rest of it looks like).


  23. “Uncharted is a film (not a great one) masquerading as a video game. The only logical conclusion is that Uncharted is a fraud.”

    Actually, Morgan, any conclusion that Uncharted is a “film” is inherently and completely illogical because Uncharted is a video game series. But I guess that would be a disappointing revelation considering it would mean you couldn’t use that blatantly click-bait headline.

    As a Founder and Editor-in-Chief for a gaming news website that no one’s ever heard of, you could choose to take some comfort in the fact that your click-bait article has worked to some extent, but I urge you to recognize that all you have now is a gaming news website that people will actively avoid. You’ve tried to capitalize on peoples’ passion for the Uncharted series by writing something (poorly) that has nothing to say, is so irrational that it’s borderline insane, and after all that it failed to do so much as entertain your audience.

    Have whatever opinion of Uncharted that you’d like. Believe that cinematic qualities constitute a “film” and not simply… cinematic qualities. That one thing being inspired by another thing is unacceptable and wrong. Go right ahead.

    In the meantime you’ve spawned at least a handful of opinions that Morgan Lewis is a hack of a writer, a failure, and is living in his own personal La La Land.


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