Over the years, Naughty Dog has successfully been the go-to mascot creator for each of Sony’s platforms. In the early days with the original PlayStation, they gave us a trilogy of Crash Bandicoot games – stellar 2D/3D hybrid platformers that went toe-to-toe with the likes of Mario and Sonic. Afterwards, they delivered Jak & Daxter, a relatively natural evolution of those concepts that grew into one of the PlayStation 2’s most cherished trilogies. On the PlayStation 3, they took things to an entirely other plane of existence with the Uncharted trilogy that truly pushed the bounds of graphics and storytelling in modern gaming. As great as Uncharted was and Naughty Dog still is, I don’t think that’s the franchise of the PlayStation 4’s future – I think inFamous is a lot more important.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was a solid debut for a new series – it iterated on elements of Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones in unique ways, with surprisingly rewarding 3D platforming and great characters to push the story along. Once Uncharted 2: Among Thieves released however, the bar was raised significantly. The standard for graphical presentation, acting, and storytelling in a video game was surely brought to a new level and Naughty Dog received international acclaim for what still stands as one of the greatest games of this or any generation. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception rehashed that same formula with yet another amazing outing (some argue it even surpassed Uncharted 2, but I digress) to round out the developer’s traditional trilogy format.
However, with the announcement of a new Uncharted coming to PS4, it’s definitely exciting, but it got me thinking. The Uncharted franchise does one very specific thing well, and while there are thousands of treasure hunting stories that Drake or any other number of treasure hunters could embark on, that franchise has already hit its creative peak. I would be lying if I said I won’t buy and play any and every Uncharted game (even Golden Abyss on the Vita was pretty great) but this isn’t what the PS4 needs.
After playing inFamous: Second Son, I can without a doubt say that it’s not only the best game on the PS4 in my opinion, but it’s a franchise with a very bright future.The developers have already come out and stated how diverse the potential is for future games – any power, any type of person, any time period, and any location.
This means near the end of the PS4’s life cycle we could be playing as a female conduit with wind powers in Brazil. While the core foundation may remain similar, the elements of the concept that can be changed and iterated upon are nearly endless. As the technology continues to advance and improve, inFamous will be able to tap into those unique elements and actually push the PlayStation 4 to its limits. Sucker Punch has created a franchise with tremendous staying power – it’s one of the best superhero stories out there, and it didn’t even originate from a comic book, but Naughty Dog has proven its knack for creating new and engaging IPs across consoles – like The Last of Us.
Obviously Uncharted is probably around to stay, at least in some form, for a good long time. Hopefully Nolan North reprises his role as Nathan Drake in the latest adventure, but even without his charisma the franchise will easily find an audience. Troy Baker’s role as Delsin Rowe in inFamous: Second Son undoubtedly proves that the franchise has flexibility and can creative ways. Ultimately, evolution and adapting to the changing industry is what keeps a series relevant, not reworking the same general plot and story across multiple games. Sorry Drake, but the conduits are the future.