Naughty Dog is undoubtedly one of the greatest video game development companies in the business. Founded in 1984, the company has become famous for its slew of incredible games including Crash Bandicoot, The Last of Us, and the Uncharted series. Most of their games are critically acclaimed, so it's hard to suss out the "greatest of the great" from the "great but maybe a little flawed."
Regardless, we're here to do just that. By looking at the Metacritic numbers, we're going to rank the ten best Naughty Dog video games and see what the greatest of the great truly are.
It's telling that Naughty Dog's tenth highest scoring game is still sitting at an 87. Released back in October of 2003, Jak II earned immense amounts of critical acclaim, and some critics even praised it as one of the greatest games on the PS2 and one of the greatest platforming games in history.
While nearly all aspects of its creation were praised, some didn't take too kindly to the checkpoint system or the game's convoluted and often empty-feeling open-world city. It sits at an 87 on Metacritic, with the user score rounding out at a slightly worse 8.3.
Left Behind was released as an expansion pack to The Last of Us, and it featured Ellie's adventures with Riley before the events of the main game. While it didn't quite reach the heights of the core game, it was still universally praised, especially as a piece of DLC. A few shortcomings were noted, including its lack of innovation (not surprising), the short length, and its unnecessary padding.
However, the story, character work, and gameplay were all praised, leading to its 88 Metascore. However, it's also interesting to note that the user score sits at just 8.2, with many people criticizing the length and boring story (and, yes, a few criticizing Ellie's relationship with Riley).
The game that started it all: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Uncharted was praised upon release for its cast and cinematic qualities, and it basically singlehandedly give rise to the whole "action cinema" genre of gaming.
While the game may seem dated today, this was unbelievable stuff back in 2007. While critics found it a little derivative of Tomb Raider, it was still praised for its action elements, fun characters, and ridiculous adventure story. However, the users weren't as kind to the game as the critics, and the user score sits at a surprisingly low 8.0.
Kart racing games were all the rage back in the late 90s, thanks primarily to Nintendo's absolute classic Mario Kart 64. Naughty Dog got in on the action and released Crash Team Racing, a kart racer based on their iconic Crash Bandicoot series. It served as the answer to Mario Kart, as it was endlessly praised for its cast of characters, graphics, gameplay, and buttery smooth controls.
In fact, many critics declared it a better game than MK64, which was insanely high praise, indeed. This is also the first time (on this list at least) that the users agreed with the critics, scoring it a cumulative 8.9.
Breaking the elusive 90 barrier is Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, the first entry in the iconic Jak and Daxter series. Released on December 3, 2001, The Precursor Legacy was instantly praised as one of the greatest games available on the PlayStation 2, with many critics singling out its graphics as the best in the history of gaming. Others praised aspects include its endearing cast of characters, voice acting, and platforming elements, and it basically made platforming cool and again—for a while, at least. The user score also sits at 8.8, signaling the game's status as a universal icon of gaming.
Crash Bandicoot: Warped is an all-time PlayStation classic. Released way back in 1998, Warped was endlessly praised for its production values, which included stellar graphics, crisp and alluring sound design, and brilliant music.
But a game is not a game without good gameplay, and Warped delivered that in spades, building on everything that made Crash Bandicoot such a success and expanding on it in various imaginative ways. The user score also sits at 9.0, meaning that darned near everyone that plays this game considers it near gaming perfection. It's a masterpiece.
Drake's Deception represented a rather divisive then-ending to the Uncharted series. Unfortunately, it had to follow Uncharted 2, and that is not something any game would want to do.
Critics praised the game on its terms as a video game, and, as a video game, it was a masterpiece. Great story and voice acting, same old Uncharted gameplay magic, and wondrous graphics. However, general players were left slightly disappointed, evident by the rather low 8.4 user score. To them, it was a good game, but it was also a little same-old-same-old, ya know?
Naughty Dog decided that they weren't quite done with Nathan Drake, and Uncharted 4 was assembled and released to widespread critical acclaim. Like all the other Uncharted games, A Thief's End was praised for its unbelievable production values (especially the GORGEOUS graphics and animations), gripping and emotional story, imaginative settings, and blockbuster action sequences.
However, general players were again left slightly underwhelmed, and the user score also sits at 8.4, tying it with Uncharted 3. Naughty Dog claims that they have now retired the Nathan Drake saga. It seems like general audiences are done with him, as well.
What gamers aren't sick of is The Last of Us. That makes sense considering there's only been one of them (well, two soon enough!). The Last of Us was Naughty Dog's first original IP since Uncharted, and it also remains their last original IP. But that's okay, because it's an absolute masterpiece of a game, and it contains what is arguably the greatest story in the history of gaming.
No, that's not hyperbole. It sits at a rightfully high 95 on Metacritic, and the users are right there with the critics, scoring it a cumulative 9.2. There's no getting around it; The Last of Us is one of the greatest video games ever made.
When it comes to Naughty Dog's masterpiece, it always boils down to two games: The Last of Us and Uncharted 2. While the Metacritic scores are insanely close and virtually the exact same, Uncharted 2 actually gets the edge by a mere point, making it the highest-rated Naughty Dog game ever made.
It's really no surprise; what this game did for blockbuster gaming is simply unspeakable. Even to this day, its action sequences remain as heart-pounding and fresh as they were ten years ago. The user score sits at a slightly worse 8.9, indicating that while they agree Uncharted 2 is a masterpiece, they believe that the greatest Naughty Dog game is actually The Last of Us. What do you think?