I remember the first time I saw gameplay footage of the "Urban Warfare" chapter of Uncharted 2's single-player campaign. That six-minute video clip was enough to force me to completely reevaluate my perspective on what exactly a video game could accomplish in its storytelling. I knew video games had hit a new high point, had stretched the boundaries of what was considered possible, had made an enormous evolutionary leap.
Ever since the SEGA CD era (who else remembers that?) video games have been trying to blur the lines between themselves and films. However, most of these efforts seem to fall flat. In fact, a good reason the SEGA CD didn't do very well was that its game lineup was filled with these "interactive movie" games, basically choose-your-own-adventures that allowed you to accomplish minor goals in between lengthy cutscenes. (Many of these cutscenes were actually filmed rather than animated, by the way.) If Uncharted 2 wasn't the first game to finally successfully blend the two forms of media until they were almost indistinguishable, it was certainly the first to perfect this blend.
Uncharted 3 was just released a couple days ago, and after playing through the campaign, I have to say that it takes the idea and expands on it. I don't want to spoil the plot points for anyone—there are some incredible surprises in this game—but I will say that the way it flows from epic set piece to epic set piece is unparalleled. Though I will always have a soft spot for the "Urban Warfare" scene from Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3 does things that will leave you breathless in similar ways.
To add to the cinematic flavor of the game is an extraordinarily well-written story that delves into the psychology—and the history—of some of our favorite characters from the game. If you play through Uncharted 3's campaign, you will learn things about Nathan Drake that you never even thought to ask, and you'll find answers to some longstanding questions about the series mythos. (By the way, here's a little conspiracy piece I wrote a while back that takes a pre-Uncharted 3 look at some of these questions.)
But I'm not here to talk about Uncharted 3. That's what our review is for. Instead, I want to look at the future of the series.
As we already know, Uncharted 3 will be substantially supported with DLC. The Fortune Hunters' Club allows players to pay in advance for seven chunks of downloadable goodness—three of which are already available—and I don't suspect the content will stop flowing after that. However, Naughty Dog has said they won't be doing any story-based add-ons, even though they did mention that Drake's story will not end with Uncharted 3. In an interview with the Official PlayStation Magazine, Justin Richmond, director on Uncharted 3, had this to say: "There are a ton of Drake adventures out there and we haven't told all of them yet. As long as fans want the games and as long as we find something that's interesting and will push the medium forward, we'll continue to make them."
This could even suggest that Naughty Dog is probably planning to break from their traditional "one franchise per console" pattern. (If you remember, Crash Bandicoot was Naughty Dog's PSOne franchise, and Jak & Daxter was their PS2 franchise. That makes Uncharted their PS3 franchise.) Following this pattern, the Uncharted series would stop after the launch of the PS4, and the new console would be the dawn of a brand new series. But I doubt this is going to happen. If there are indeed several more stories to tell, and Naughty Dog is committed to telling those stories as long as fans keep clamoring for them, Uncharted's lifespan could easily stretch into the PS4 generation.
But even if it doesn't, I'm pretty sure we'll see at least one more title on the PS3. And I don't mean a port of the upcoming Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PlayStation Vita (though it wouldn't be crazy to speculate that such a port would eventually happen.) I do indeed mean Uncharted 4.
The first Uncharted came out in 2007. Uncharted 2 hit shelves in 2009. Uncharted 3 just landed a couple days ago (and yes, it's still 2011.) As you can see, there are two years between each Uncharted game, suggesting Uncharted 4 will see a 2013 release. The current next-gen rumors put the Xbox 720 (or whatever they decide to call it) in a 2013 launch window, and the PS4 sometime in 2014. That means that Uncharted 4 will most likely be a PS3 release, though one that shows up toward the tail end of the PS3's lifespan. Uncharted 5, if the series continues into the next generation, would be a PS4 title.
My prediction: The Uncharted series isn't coming to a close with Uncharted 3. If statements from Naughty Dog are any indication, we'll definitely see Uncharted 4. It will also most likely be a PS3 exclusive, and perhaps one of the very last PS3-exclusive titles. If the series continues to deliver quality as high as that f Uncharted 2 and 3, Uncharted 4 would be a fitting swan song for the PS3. (Just as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a fitting swan song for the Wii.)
I know that I will personally be looking forward to such a title with great anticipation. But for now, I'm going to thoroughly enjoy Uncharted 3. In fact, I think I'm going to go play it right now. If you have access to a PS3, you should be doing the exact same thing.
CCC Editor/Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*