BY BEN PRICE: Through the years, few game developers have been as consistently excellent in their quality of titles as Sony’s own Naughty Dog. With the release of The Last of Us Part II, this is the perfect time to rank every Playstation title released by Naughty Dog, from Crash Bandicoot to Uncharted 4.
13. Jak X: Combat Racing
I’ve never been a huge racing fan, and Jak X is just yet another game among a sea of mascot racers. It’s by no means a bad game, but with so many other fantastic titles to pick from by Naughty Dog, Combat Racing falls at the bottom of this list.
With that said, there are a lot of great things that Jak X does: for one, the racing is very tight and fast-paced. With it being set in a futuristic world, it gives off a vibe similar to WipEout and F-Zero. In addition, the game features some pretty fun shooting mechanics.
My biggest gripe has to be that the game overall feels unnecessary. Did we really need a Jak racing game? I honestly don’t think so. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Jak & Daxter series, and it’s always been my least favorite of Naughty Dog’s franchises, so this game, unfortunately, is my least favorite from this beloved developer.
12. Crash Bandicoot
The game that started it all comes in near the bottom of my list. While it is undoubtedly a classic, the first Crash Bandicoot suffers from a lot of issues common in first entries. For one, the game lacks any sort of traditional saving features. Instead of being able to save after every level, the player can only save their game after completing bonus rounds, defeating bosses, or obtaining rare collectibles.
Beyond these annoyances, the game’s level design isn’t nearly as varied as later entries in the series, and is painfully difficult and unforgiving. The latter isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on who you are. If you love a good challenge, then Crash Bandicoot is definitely worth giving a try. But don’t come whining to us after you break your controller out of frustration.
11. Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
So I know that I’m in the minority here, but I prefer the first Jak and Daxter game to the sequels. Maybe it’s because it was one of the first games I ever played on the Playstation 2, but the first Jak game really struck a balance that just sort of worked.
Before the sequels decided to switch genres entirely, Jak & Daxter stuck close to the 3D platformer genre, one of my favorite game genres. The game follows the Banjo-Kazooie formula to a T, offering over ten huge levels free to explore, each filled to the brim with collectibles.
With that said, the game feels like a product of its time in many ways, aging worse than its sequels. It’ll always be the one I have the most nostalgia for, but it is admittedly inferior to its sequels.
10. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
The Uncharted series has gone through quite the transformation since its first entry in 2007. Though Drake’s Fortune is not a bad game by any means, it certainly has not aged the best when compared to the rest of the franchise.
The series has always been known for its cinematic flair and larger-than-life set pieces, but after replaying the series, it’s clear that the first entry was still figuring things out when it was released. With a half-baked story, monotonous gameplay, and uninteresting villains, the first Uncharted game is only just okay.
What I can say about this game, however, is that it was truly remarkable when it was first released and served as a great start to an unforgettable franchise.
9. Jak 3
Jak 3 continues the journey started in the previous game, this time taking place in a very Mad Max-like desert. The game has a large emphasis on exploring and riding dune buggies and such, which is plenty of fun.
But the game never quite grabbed me as much as the previous installment, Jak II. Regardless, the game is a very fitting ending to the Jak trilogy, and one that I’m still hoping to see a follow-up to (and no, The Lost Frontier doesn’t count).
8. CTR: Crash Team Racing
As previously stated, I’m not much of a racing fan. It takes a lot to impress me in the mascot racer genre, but CTR managed to do so when it was released. Created as an obvious competitor to Mario Kart, CTR managed to not only compete with, but in many ways, also 1-UP its rival.
The game shares so much of its DNA with Mario Kart, but fans of the franchise will tell you that it is so much more than that: one look at the game’s adventure mode will show you how much love and care really went into the title. In addition, the driving mechanics go far deeper than most kart racers, and are complimented very nicely by excellent level design. The game still holds up quite well today, and the 2019 remake Nitro Fueled shows that love for the kart racer is still very much alive.
7. Jak 2
I remember going to Gamestop with my mom right when Jak II was released, and asking to get it only for the Gamestop associate to inform my mom that the game was actually rated T for teen, and then proceeding to list off all of the mature content. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed when my mom decided against buying me the game. But this made my eventual purchase of the game that much more satisfying, and I have to say, the wait was worth it.
Jak II took a massive risk by diverging from the original Jak & Daxter and maturing it in every possible way, from the platformer gameplay shifting to a far deeper, Grand Theft Auto inspired, open-world approach, to the addition of gun gameplay, to the character of Jak himself becoming much more badass and adult-like. The game also took on a far darker tone than the original, with the introduction of Dark Jak.
Naughty Dog’s huge risk paid off in every way, creating a great game that managed to blend genres and set a new standard for gaming.
6. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
I hold the second Crash game in a very special place, as it was the only game from the original PS1 trilogy that I played as a child. I remember playing through the game multiple times over, being addicted to the simple platforming gameplay.
While it didn’t quite reach the heights of Warped, Cortex Strikes Back improves on the original in nearly every way: by adding in the slide and crouch mechanics, gameplay gets some much-needed variety that the original sorely lacked. Levels now feel more varied, with the addition of ice, sewer, and future themes. On top of all that, this game introduced some of the most iconic Crash characters, like Tiny the Tiger, N-Gin the mad scientist, and Crash’s sister Coco Bandicoot.
Though I have to admit that Warped is an overall better and more ambitious title, Cortex Strikes Back will always be my personal favorite.
5. Crash Bandicoot: Warped
What can I say about this game that hasn’t already been said? Warped is a true classic, and a favorite among fans. From the level design, to the unlockable abilities, to the incredibly fun boss battles, Warped has it all.
My favorite part of the game has got to be the level themes, and how they all creatively take advantage of the game’s time-travel gimmick, and set each level in a different location and time era: from ancient Egypt, to medieval Europe, this game is chocked-full of variety. Warped also has some of the best boss fights in the entire series, with Dingodile as my personal favorite. The only minor complaint that I have with the game is the difficulty level, as I thought it was a tad bit too easy.
4. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
I was late to the Uncharted series, and carry zero nostalgia for the series. So after doing a bit of research on the games, I found that fans greatly preferred the second game over the third. After experiencing all of the games within a month of each other, I can personally state that the second and third are neck-and-neck with each other.
Drake’s Deception is superior to its predecessor in many ways. Firstly, the narrative is much more personal, with players finally getting to know Nathan and Sully’s father-son dynamic more thoroughly. What was always sort of lingering in the background becomes the center of attention in this game, and I greatly appreciated being able to understand their relationship better. The game also succeeds in delivering the greatest and most exciting action set pieces in the series to date, with the cruise ship section being the stand-out moment.
My biggest gripe that I have with the game is the final act; the game goes in an interesting direction, but ultimately fails to deliver a satisfying finale. The final “boss” was probably the biggest letdown, with it basically being reduced to a quick-time-event.
3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
This game wins the award for most improved sequel: whereas the first title was very simple and repetitive, Among Thieves offers plenty of variety with great pacing. The game also introduced huge set pieces that the game is now known for, with the excellent train section as the game’s biggest highlight.
I think what sets this game apart from Drake’s Fortune and every other game that came before it is its presentation and scope: Among Thieves is a true blockbuster action movie come to life. The game takes inspiration from many action films, from the heist mission’s Ocean’s Eleven vibe, to Nathan Drake’s Indiana Jones-like persona, to the villain’s Bond-like cartoonishness, the game has a clear vision, and is proud of it.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4 shows just how far a series can really progress over the course of a decade. Whereas the third installment focused on Nathan and Sully’s relationship, its follow-up shifts its focus to Nathan and his long-forgotten brother, Sam. The story constantly tugs on player’s heartstrings, as we learn more about Nathan Drake than ever before, even going as far as to reveal how Nate got his name.
Besides the excellent storytelling, Uncharted 4 has the most varied gameplay the series has seen to date, with stealth-combat now being a viable option, and puzzles that truly test the player’s wits. Overall, the final Uncharted installment is the most well-rounded of the bunch and stands out as the series’ best.
1. The Last of Us
The Last of Us is a near-perfect game. From the moment it begins, players are thrown into the brutal and unforgiving world of the Apocalypse, playing as Joel and accompanied by the young Ellie.
From its tight gameplay to its beautifully told story, The Last of Us is a true masterpiece.
But…What About The Last of Us Part 2??
That, dear readers, is a question for you. Where should the second entry in the Last of Us franchise sit in this list?
Does it take the coveted number one spot from the original release, or does it languish somewhere down the list, perhaps in between Crash Bandicoot: Warped and Uncharted 3? Let us know in the comments!