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Did Uncharted 2 win E3 2012?

Nathan Drake's exceptional ability to hang off rickety things has inspired a generation.

Game developers play a lot of games. In 2009 a fair few of them played Uncharted 2, and decided that they quite liked it. The formula of grunts, groans, spliced action with cut-scenes, mega-set pieces and ducking behind furniture really tickled them. Likewise, that bit when Drake climbed up the dangling train? That was just... awesome.

The best thing they saw in Drake's adventures though, even more than Chloe's hypnotic and bizarrely sparkly eyes, was the fact that it was single format. 'What if...' those developers and their taskmasters pondered as if they were one colossal meta-brain. 'What if someone did this on all platforms? What if someone used this format to reboot a troubled franchise? And what if that cunning ploy made them KING OF THE WHOLE WORLD?'


Roll on three years later and many third person shooters at E3 2012 are direct descendents of Nathan Drake, while most of them share the same tempo of his action and his set-pieces. Nate and Sully aren't present at the show (they're off at a tropical beach bar exchanging small-talk about how Neil Armstrong used to keep a secret magic thing on him at all times and... OMG space adventure!) but the scent of cigar smoke is everywhere.

This is why Star Wars 1313's climb up a burning, fragmenting star fighter is so reminiscent of Uncharted 2's opening. It's also why Tomb Raider's grimy mountain-top locales, super streamlined climbing, melee attacks and gritty gun combat reeks (pleasantly) of Naughty Dog (apart from the bit with the slowly breaking window, of course, which is a direct lift from The Lost World: Jurassic Park). Even The Last of Us, it could be argued, benefits from being somewhat in its stable-mate's thrall.

It's not just the direct stuff either - the pace of so many third person shooters seems to have been upped considerably. Hitman Absolution, Dead Space 3, Splinter Cell: Blacklist - they've all been given a dose of caffeine that could perhaps be traced back to Drake's quiet moments before the storm, and then super-hectic action and set-pieces. The pacing of so many existing franchises has been ratcheted up, and Naughty Dog's success can be found at its root. The apple that is Lost Planet 3's rugged smart-arse hero doesn't fall far from the Drake tree either...

This, perhaps, is not bad thing. Who could ever complain about other games becoming more like one of the greatest games of this generation? The games industry is one of repeated patterns and bandwagons - you only have to look at the prevalence of bows and arrows at this E3 to notice the way developers have a tendency to simultaneously cook up the same meals using different recipes.

There's little doubt however that Uncharted 2 (or, at the very least, full strands of its DNA) has been a highlight of E3. Wherever Drake-isms have appeared in other games, jaws have been summarily dropped. Naughty Dog may have PS3 exclusivity, but their influence goes far beyond...