When comparing two titanic titles like Uncharted and Tomb Raider, it’s equally important to understand the history of their creation, and their drive to succeed.
With Uncharted and Tomb Raider, we’re presented with a multitude of experienced developers as well as competitive producers, who are battling it out for the top spot; in both sales and critical acclaim.
I wanted to explain why it seems now that Uncharted has solidified itself as the top dog in the battle of action adventure titles.
For this sole reason and many others, I’ve created a detailed outline analyzing all aspects of both characters, their studios and teams, as well as their releases to give perspective to my reasoning.
Tomb Raider vs. Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, Crystal Dynamics, Naught Dog
History/ character concept
Nate Drake draws many design concepts from several of Hollywood’s most elite. His primary character concept comes from Johnny Knoxville, Harrison Ford, and Bruce Willis.
For this reason and many others, the series creators didn’t want him over masculine—or over hyped—due to his rugged and average appearance.
Comic characters Tintin, Doc Savage, and movie character John McClane served as personality outline for Nate Drake’s character as well.
We can see from his concept designs, and inspirational personas what makes Drake the character he is. Both in grit and conviction, he always honors himself and his comrades by placing himself in harm’s way for their sake.
Knowing this Uncharted writer Amy Henning stated:
When we set out to do Uncharted, we decided we wanted to tackle one of these beloved action-adventure games in the spirit of this whole tradition. We knew that in order to pull it off, we had to have a hero who was completely relatable, just a regular guy.
So when people saw him and said “Why do I want to play a guy in t-shirt and jeans” that was a deliberate move on our part, to say look, he’s just a guy. He’s just like you and me.
It’s important to understand that Drake didn’t have parents growing up, and had to survive as best he could until he met Victor Sullivan. This gave him his steel resolve to survive anything.
At this point we learned Nate Drake wasn’t his real name, and that Marlowe(as shown in Uncharted 3) knew more about his life than he did.
With Uncharted 4, Drake has an older brother(voiced by Troy Baker), and is off to a new adventure—which leads us to believe that his history could be self-fabricated beyond his orphan origins.
Nate Drake isn’t the best liar, but he is very good at keeping secrets from his enemies to spare his allies.
Lara Croft has had many redesigns over the years, including a massive overhaul in her reboot, as seen in 2013. She has been the center of controversy since her debut, due to her oversexualized design, and creation by her creator Toby Gard.
Originally designed to be named Larry Croft, Gard said that he redesigned Lara to a female character for originality, and to inspire a female lead character.
She is modeled after Neneh Cherry, and comic book character Tank Girl perspectively. Her determination to uncover the secrets on her expeditions often leads her into trouble, but she finds a way out with her gadgetry, or .45’s.
Her upbringing shows us that she is more than equipped to explore the continents, and discover great treasures, as displayed in Tomb Raider 1-3. Even though she was orphaned much later in life than Drake, Lara shows us that her tutoring and knowledge base surpass Nate’s by leaps and bounds.
However, this doesn’t make up for the fact that street smarts outweigh book smarts—or true grit to be beaten during an interrogation.
For this reason, and many others we can see why Lara wasn’t so much hunting treasures, as she was artifacts. Drake has had to carry the grievances of losing comrades, and his loved ones his whole life.
Lara has suffered similar constraints in her life—with the difference being she was thrown into tragedy, and inherited millions of dollars, while Drake lived through it, and survived with stealing, and hustling.
Crystal Dynamics helped to usher in a new era with Lara leading the way. With Its overhaul of the core engine used to develop Tomb Raider, and its basic mechanics perfected, it made Tomb Raider 2013 the greatest commercial success of its generation.
It’s only competition being The Last of Us by Naughty Dog. Within this new engine several factors were revolutionized, and players got to experience the true feel of exploration.
For starters The Definitive Edition frame rate was unlocked on PlayStation 4, which allowed it to vary from 32 to 60fps (averaging 53.36fps).The Xbox One version is locked to 30FPS (averaging 29.98fps); both versions of the game have a resolution of 1080p.
Square Enix also used motion capture, and borrowed heavily from Uncharted for free running, platforming, as well as close and long-range combat mechanics.
Naughty Dog has always had the lap of luxury with the Uncharted series. To be more specific, I mean that it’s easier to develop one game for two consoles that are of the same creator than two for two different companies.
Uncharted uses the Havoc engine in pair with the Naughty Dog engine. While the Crystal engine focuses more on graphics, detail, and intense panoramic design, the Naughty Dog engine is trailing behind it struggling in some aspects even.
The point that Final Fantasy XV is showing the pinnacle of what Crystal Dynamics is capable of with a game, environment, and character models is a sliver of what we can expect from Rise of the Tomb Raider.
On the other hand, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is gearing up to surpass Tomb Raider in terms of Gameplay by using lush terrain, and heavy platforming. This newest entry is looking to leave Tomb Raider behind in a field that it created a long time ago, and no longer cares for.
Should Square Enix chase Naughty Dog, and follow Uncharted’s bait, it could end in a bad way. The last thing we would want to see is Tomb Raider become a feminine version of Uncharted—especially due to Lara having PTSD in her latest trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Tomb Raider has sold over 4.6 million copies globally, while Uncharted 3 has sold over 6.54 million copies to date. The difference is apparent and clear. Once again as stated above—splitting the attention for a title detracts from its success rate, and cuts the ratio down by almost half.
Knowing that since its first entry, Tomb Raider has seen more commercial success, it would be expected to follow the same trend. But it would appear that it cannot.
The reason it has dwindled up until the reboot is due to a changing of the times. Tomb Raider was created in the 90’s when it was a surprise to receive the world’s first 3D platformer, and it’s protagonist was a woman.
Since then we’ve received several female protagonists including Bayonetta, Juliet Starling, and Lightning of FFXlll.
Tomb Raider has always had to compete, while Uncharted has remained relevant throughout its tenure. Through the evolution of its engine, storyline, and its gameplay, we’ve seen Uncharted adopt new aspects to gameplay—including its failed attempt at multiplayer in Uncharted 2.
While it could do better to provide a more generalized female perspective, and not the damsel in distress trope, it does a great job of trying to balance the female narrative as an independent character as well.
Elena Fischer, and Chloe Fraiser have been prominent staples in the series since the first two titles.
Demographic/ mass appeal
Clearly Tomb Raider was developed to close in on sex appeal, and inspire female gamers to play as a female centric lead. It served to captivate the male audience with Laura’s features and revealing clothing.
Despite continued entries, It failed due to the fact Lara didn’t deliver what the creator claimed she could.
Giving a woman combat .45’s and climbing gear, doesn’t make her Indiana Jones. Lara should have been given the opportunity to let players experience what Uncharted has to this very day. Fun through freedom of exploration, and character narrative.
Making someone feel more included in the gameplay instead of running around until you pull a switch isn’t very fun.
Uncharted isn’t without its fair share of hard knocks either. The unfortunate knowledge that Uncharted doesn’t offer a feminine perspective to its storyline is unsettling—especially since we have to ask ourselves: “What was Elena doing while Drake was knocked out?”
It should serve as precedence that we receive a spin-off DLC featuring Eelna Fischer, or Chole Fraiser to give fresh perspective on the series through their eyes.
Equality in games is important even if it’s subtle. A drastic change too quickly would cause a jaded shift in the premise of the game, and possibly harm the fan base and sales for the team.
So far Tomb Raider is the only one of the two that has received a reboot, as of 2013. Uncharted should receive a HD remake for the Playstation 4, or a few tie-in titles to make up for lost ground within the series. There are so many questions in both series fans have, that haven’t been answered yet.
Whether Tomb Raider will continue the path that it has started is yet to be seen, as the game hasn’t reached its sequel yet.
Hopefully Lara won’t be viewed as a victim since the first game concluded, and she’ll take players to a great new adventure discovering new lost wonders. As for Drake it would appear since the announcement of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, it marks the conclusion of the series.
We were also told that God of War 3 would be the final title, yet we received God of War Ascension and a new God of War project is in development. Only time will tell how these two series will round out, but for now we’ll cover them as they develop.
Uncharted is taking the lead over Tomb Raider due to its new perspective on closing a character on a good note. However Tomb Raider can still hold cards we haven’t seen in the form of story DLC, a Season Pass for new weapons or areas, and crafting elements.
What are your thoughts on Uncharted 4, and Rise of the Tomb Raider? Let us know in the comments!
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