Naughty Dog Games: Worst to Best
Naughty Dog has consistently released games beloved by fans. Let's take a look at my picks for worst to best since 'Crash Bandicoot' (1996) – 'Uncharted: The Lost Legacy' (2017).
A quick note before we continue on with this list. This is almost entirely opinion based and may in your opinion be complete bullshit, but hey, that's how opinions work, so feel free to disagree, but please try not to threaten my life. Alright, let's scroll.
14. 'Jak X: Combat Racing' (2005)
Despite containing the most badass version of Jak stylistically and cars my ten-year-old self drooled over, Jak X's story and gameplay combined meant that it fell short of the "stellar on release" games we're at the privilege of consistently receiving from Naughty Dog.
This weaponised racer was bombastic fun at the time, but never really gained a fanbase or much appreciation and simply couldn't compete with Naughty Dog's fan favourite racing game.
13. 'Crash Team Racing'
What?! Didn't I just call this a fan favourite! Do I even know what I'm talking about?! Look, Naughty Dog's effort in the racing game genre simply aren't as good as their adventurous platformers and story driven epics. However, this is easily the better of the racers. Also I feel like you're not going to like the next one either.
12. 'Crash Bandicoot'
What the shit, have you lost your mind? Alright people, calm down, stop shouting at the screen. Yes, this is original playstation platforming gold. Yes, Crash is the OG playstation mascot and straight up a cheeky lovable guy that definitely didn't start a furry trend. Dude's ugly, let's be honest. Yes, the music is fantastic. But the graphics don't hold up, the controls are kind of bad at this point, and you may as well just skip it and go straight to the second game (I might be saying that again soon). Also, fuck those bridges.
11. 'Uncharted: Drakes Fortune'
You're not even angry about this one, are you? The once incredible graphics of the opener to the wondrous Uncharted series pretty much fall flat on their face by today's standards. Not only that, but the more combat based gameplay feels like a rather rigid paint by numbers section by section labour, and the main villain is a mess and so is his boss fight. I say fight... Anyway, there are great things to come for Uncharted and this installment did at least start it all off.
10. 'Jak 3'
One of my favourite things in Naughty Dog games is that between games, the characters age and other things have happened. It makes for a much more real feeling world. But besides that, Jak 3 contains all of the honed-in game mechanics of Jak 2 with the addition of full-blown driving segments and that's, well, that's basically it. It's still a wonderful game, but nothing much happens. There are a few meta jokes which land perfectly. In terms of story though, pretty much empty bar Kleiver (the fat angry dude) being a dick and finding out about the precursors (which is pretty interesting). Anyway, it made it into the top 10, so yay for Jak 3.
9. 'Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back'
Sequels: Naughty Dog's forte (usually). Crash 2 brings us tightened controls and some new game mechanics along with the more gimmicky variety levels. A standout of which would be that adorable lil polar bear. In terms of story, Crash in general is a bit lax. This game in particular giving you the information that Cortex is using you right off the bat rather than saving it for a twist. But giving the minimal amount of time between the Crash releases, this is a pretty darn good effort. Warp rooms, secrets, variety, and the introduction of Coco. Next!
8. 'Uncharted: The Lost Legacy'
This is where the games start getting real good. Not only does this game look incredible, but it brings back the fan favourite Chloe as a playable character with a more realistic body design and the total badass that is Nadine as your AI companion. A brilliant story in terms of these bonding characters and a few jokey jibes at Uncharted 4's over use of crates, there's just many an enjoyable thing going on here. Even the ability to take pictures at certain locations with your phone is a fun aside. The only real issues I have with this game are the unfinished feel of the story and it's slight lacking in replay-ability. How so? Well, unfortunately "The Western Ghats" chapter is a bit of a drag the second time through because you've done all the exploring, so the area just becomes a vast and lengthy section of the game with not much to do. Sorry.
7. 'Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception'
Burning mansions, sinking ships, desert walks, and of course, the plane crash. Uncharted 3 is jam packed with set pieces, not to mention the chapters spent as a child or drug induced or (one of my favourite parts) the Talbot chase. It's bloody good. The game does feel a bit long overall, and the finale fight is a tad lacklustre, but this is a journey and a half certainly worthy of the Naughty Dog name. Bar the fairly lengthy lost in the desert section Uncharted 3 has a great replay-ability factor. There are even some devastating emotional moments, and of course, so many, many quips.
6. 'Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy'
You're mad now, aren't you? This might be nostalgia on my part; to be fair, Jak and Daxter contains some of the most enjoyable collectathon gameplay I've ever had as well as distinct biomes for each of the sages. Not only that, but the boss fights in this game are some of Naughty Dog's best. This game is just a truly fun exploration of a world that was brand new to me at the time and still captures my interest now. Honestly, this game just makes me think of fun times. Getting the game started is a little bit slow but fully worth it.
5. 'Crash Bandicoot: Warped'
I know some people out there are against the gimmick-like nature of Crash 3, but for me, it really amps up my interest and the replay-ability. Also, there's a tiger, so. Yeah. The warp rooms have solid themes, you can play as Coco. There are abilities that are actually useful. It's just solid as heck, guys.
4. 'Jak 2'
Darker and next level difficult, Jak 2 isn't here for your shit. If you managed to master driving at two different altitudes, you felt like a god. Jak got a voice, eco powers, and a badass attitude. The story took a time travel twist that literally, yes literally, shattered my nine-year-old mind.
Practically every character was hardcore, and thanks to the gritty city setting, they had to be. I mean you're part of a rebellion from the off and kicking all of the ass. In between this, why not take on the races. Not that they're any easier, but at least there are not metal heads littering the floor. On the topic of metal heads, this is for sure Naughty Dog's best boss fight. That fucker had my life like 50 times over.
This game, as of November 2017, spent the longest at the No. 1 for Naughty Dog with a six-year span. Just, all of the yes.
3. 'Uncharted 4: A Thief's End'
Nate's been through some stuff, besides the near death falls every few seconds and the supernatural-esque nature of some of his foes, he's got real world shit going down. A divorce, an identity crisis, the near loss of many of his loved ones, growing up partially "on the streets," sucked into a life of crime and now, there's a dead brother, too. Who's not even dead. I can barely keep up emotionally just thinking about it all.
This incredible entry to the Uncharted series has us enter Drake's life at a gentler time in a legally sound job with a home and his loving wife. Plus a sweet little Crash Bandicoot segment. That soon changes with the introduction of Sam, and we're plummeted right back into puzzle solving, cliff climbing, fall surviving, gun slinging, all-out adventure. Now with extra rope.
The story in this game is truly emotional and spans practically all of Nate's life, from troubled orphan to father. Yes, that's right, father. Wasn't that the most emotionally satisfying ending to literally anything ever? Wandering the house and grounds as Nate's daughter (Cassie) and rediscovering relics of adventures past, feeling truly content that our favourite thief had a happy ending after all.
Plus there's that incredible chase scene, a boss fight that's not god awful, and the introduction of both Sam and Nadine. I could keep writing about this for hours, but I'll hold off and just leave you with this. This straight masterpiece of gaming is third.
2. 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves'
Motherfucking train. Naughty Dog's second Uncharted outing took a look at the first game and told it to see itself out. Some of the most beautiful graphics of the time, which still look fairly decent today, and controls that were perfected from the previous game, this is where Uncharted reached its famed heights. It's also where it threw itself off a cliff, but it totally meant to do that; have fun climbing back up through the most memorable train in anything. Ever.
This game is a high point in not only pacing but impeccable story telling, character arcs and that beloved Drake wit. Even the boss battle kicks most of Naughty Dog's previous attempts into the dirt.
Enjoy stealth? Go for it. Enjoy guns galore? Go for it. Enjoy set pieces? Strap in. The train in its multi-chapter glory. Chapter 5 opening with a APC chasing you down. Chapter 6 and it's terrifying helicopter. Chapter 20, you know, when you fight a fucking tank. Even the first time you see a guardian, in it's mask, hidden on a ledge behind Nate and Tenzin and it turns to camera. Chills. It was 3 AM the first time I played that moment and let me tell you, I recoiled in genuine fear.
Also remember that Uncharted 1 villain whose name I couldn't remember and won't look up? None of that, Lazarevic is a big ol' bitch and he's coming for your entire life. This game sat proudly as the peak of Naughty Dog's gaming efforts for four years after knocking Jak 2 off the top spot only to be beaten out by the obvious No. 1 choice.
1. 'The Last of Us'
Was there ever any doubt in any of our minds that this glorious game would be No. 1? This isn't just the best Naughty Dog game it's one of the best games to ever exist. The dynamic between Joel and Ellie is easily one of the most interesting and heart warming aspects of the game. But it doesn't take anything away from the how truly desperate the gameplay makes you feel for any ammo, tools, or even a rag for a bandage. The apocalypse truly has come, and you feel it every second of the way.
The variety of zombies leads to a multitude of tense and diverse scenarios for you to contend with and they aren't even the real issue, that would be the people. From the untrustworthy, unlawful, sometimes psychotic groups of survivors to the helpful and friendly no one feels safe and the losses feel real and heavy.
The ending brings you to a place where morally you might not agree with what your character is doing and yet there's no way out of it. It's not even a happy ending, it's just as bleak as the rest of the game.
I haven't even mentioned the incredible opening. In minutes you've been introduced to characters you connect with in their joyous downtime only for them to be torn apart by the outbreak and start the list of losses you rack up across this dismal epic. The fleeting moments of happiness in this game really lift your spirits as if you were actually a part of the world. Tell me the last time you nearly shed tears at the sight of video game giraffe.
The gameplay mechanics of collecting whatever you can find to make bandages, shivs, bombs and makeshift upgrades to your weapons has you trawling your environment and taking in the sheer detail of this world.
Now, I know I haven't said anything about any of the online multiplayers of the other games. But this one is worth the cost of the game on its own. Just as tense as the actual game, fluid and enjoyable with its own story and mini missions you must complete to keep your people alive. Stress, the entire thing is a stress-inducing nightmare, but I love it.
I've played this thing countless times and it's still honestly incredible in every sense of the word.
Oh, also I nearly forgot, Ellie is a fucking badass. Do not fuck with her, she'd take Lazarevic in half the time Nate did. Did you see the sequel trailers? She's gotten more badass. I'm not worthy to control her.
Oh, fuck me, let me just tack the standalone DLC of Left Behind on the end here. Equally beautifully crafted with a touching story of young lesbian lovers, I think I'm crying, I'm just going to stop here.
I can't cope.