Uncharted 3: Graphical Comparison to the Series History

There is no denying Uncharted 3 is one of the best looking games of 2011, but we've always hailed the Uncharted series as some of the best looking games in the industry.  Dating all the way back to the release of Uncharted in 2007, Drake's Fortune revolutionized gaming by using the Cell microprocessor to generate dozens of layered character animations to portray realistic expressions and fluid movements, allowing for responsive playing control.  Then in 2009, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves hit the shelves and further improved an already great looking game.  Now, we will soon have Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, the third installment of a very successful franchise by Naughty Dog.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception pushes the limits of the PlayStation 3 with even more graphical improvements than it's predecessors, leading many to say that it's one of the best looking games for the PlayStation 3 ever.  Judging from screenshots, videos, and gameplay, it might even be the best looking console game, period.  While that one might be debatable (I'm sure some Xbox 360 fanboys can think of a few games to compete with Uncharted), one thing is for certain, Uncharted 3 is the best looking game of the series, BY FAR.

Naughty Dog has made leaps with their engine, which is actually an "evolved" version of the same engine they used in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.  This has allowed the game to have better physics, visuals, and environmental effects.  Don't believe me?   Let the screenshot comparisons do the talking.  Below I've compared similar scenes from Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing any of the previous Uncharted titles.  In fact, at the time, they were some of the best looking games out there.  Even now, Uncharted 2 could measure up to many of the games released today.  Rather, I am looking back at the previous games in appreciation of what Naughty Dog has done with Uncharted 3.  It is revolutionary what they have done graphically.  So without further adieu, I present to you a look back at the graphics of Uncharted and Uncharted 2 in comparison to the upcoming Uncharted 3.

Nathan Drake

Nathan drake graphics

I think it's safe to look back at Drake's Fortune and laugh.  It looks like something we'd get on the PlayStation 2.  Ok, maybe not that bad, but compared to the newer games, it doesn't stand a chance.  Still, at the time, it was one of the best.  Now some of you may be hard-pressed to notice a big difference between Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3, but upon closer inspection you can see a ton more detail, especially in Nathan Drake's skin.  While he looked great in Uncharted 2, he looked sort of plastic-y.  Everything has a shine to it and it's very smooth.  No rough or course textures.  Looking at Nathan Drake in Uncharted 3, you can see much more distinguished features.  He's got wrinkles in his forehead; he's got a rough 5 o'clock shadow.  Look closely and you can even see the pores in his skin.  It's amazing the subtle details that Naughty Dog has included in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.

Elena Fisher

Elena Fisher has received quite the makeover throughout the series.  She started off pretty manly in the first two games.  She has a harsher appearance, shaper, more man-like even.  While her hair hasn't changed, her face sure has.  In Uncharted 3 she has more of a softer, rounder face.  In my opinion, she looks the worst in Uncharted 2.  As you can see, she still has that plastic looking texture, where as in the new game that's gone.  It's more life-like.  Still some shine, but not too much.  She doesn't look like a toy from Toy Story anymore.

Fluid Action

I'll be the first to admit that these may not be the best screenshots to judge the fluidity of the action in Uncharted.  Let's be honest, all of the Uncharted games have featured fun, fluid gameplay and it's hard to complain about any of them.  Which is why I'd rather point out how flawless Uncharted 3 looks.  In the other shots you can see some rough edges, motion blur, and square pixels.  In the Uncharted 3 screenshot, nothing.  Everything is smooth and clean, right down to the running water in the background, which is the perfect time to mention that the new game features new innovations in water dynamics. Naughty Dog has said Uncharted 3 will have better physics and more realistic textures and animations.


Fire and explosions, which Uncharted lacks none of, has received a drastic improvement in Uncharted 3.  With the new engine, fire in Uncharted 3 looks more real than ever.  While the fire and explosions in Uncharted are nothing to scoff at, you can see when you look close up the circular particle effects and how perfectly rounded the explosion is.  If there's anything one should know about fire, it's how unpredictable it is.  It appears that the flames in Uncharted 3 are as unpredictable as they come, not constrained to a circle.  And as you can see they don't have any clear particle effects, aside from the smoldering ash.


The environments in the Uncharted series have always been astonishing and beautiful to look at, but there is a clear improvement from the previous titles.  Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was weak on lighting effects, blocky, and very light on the textures and plant detail.  Uncharted 2 improved upon that, and Uncharted 3 looks stunning.  The shadows, details, crispness, everything about it is improved.  According to Naughty Dog Uncharted 3 will be graphically superior to Uncharted 2 and thought the environment may be the hardest to tell the difference in – Uncharted 2 looked simply fantastic – you can tell from the other images that there have been definite improvements visually to Uncharted 3.

Naughty Dog has pushed the PlayStation 3 to the limit with Uncharted 3, and while they've admitted Uncharted 2 to 3 is a "narrower jump", it's still an impressive jump.  It's even more impressive when you see the jump since Drake's Fortune.  The Uncharted series has been known for it's cinematic-like, fluid gameplay and nothing helps more than realistic graphics.  To put it simply, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is a graphical powerhouse that looks like you're watching a CGI film.

Are you impressed with the graphical improvements of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception?