Review: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)
It’s kind of crazy to think that the first Uncharted game is almost 8 years old. 8 years since we were first introduced to the always lucky Nathan Drake and his treasure searching escapades. So much has happened in that time, so many developments and so many games leading the way in innovation. At the time, Uncharted was THE game to be reckoned with.
Now, 8 years after the first release Naughty Dog, together with Bluepoint Games, have remastered all three games in the series and put them on one disc for us to play on our PS4. It’s been made to look pretty, but is it, and is that enough to make the games worth it today?
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune introduces us to the series as we are introduced to the enigmatic character of Nathan Drake and his associates, Elena Fisher and Victor “Sully” Sullivan. The first game is all about Nathan finding lost treasure buried by his supposed ancestor, Sir Francis Drake.
If you have seen any Indiana Jones movies you will have an idea of what to expect from the games. Lots of adventure, lots of action and some fantastic, light story telling with memorable characters all the way through. Drake’s Fortune has a good balance between platforming sections, action sequences and lots of gun combat. I say a good balance, but in truth there is a little too much of the shooting bits, and at times it feels a little drawn out, but it never actually becomes bothersome.
For a game that is 8 years old Drake’s Fortune still plays quite beautifully. Knowing that I was doing the review I actually went back last month and replayed the original on PS3. I am pleased to say that it still holds up even there, but with the new visuals at 1080P and the higher framerate it really does provide for a much smoother, more beautiful experience. The main issue previously was a lot of screen tearing while playing, and that has been completely eradicated in the remaster. Bluepoint have done fine work on making Drake’s Fortune look as good as it does. You may not quite see it as a truly “current”-gen quality, but it’s pretty damn close.
The controls might feel a little dated to some and, with cover systems coming a long way since, it does take some getting used to, but once you are an hour or so in you get the hang of it quite easily. The only real change is that the motion control system is completely out of the game, so no moving your control to balance or throw grenades… thankfully.
Drake’s Fortune is still a magnificent game, one of the best on PS3 and definitely up there with some of the best games of all time. It’s got character, mystery, great combat and that wonderful sense of adventure that really endears you to the world of Uncharted.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
There’s a reason Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of my favourite games of all time. It’s because it has the absolute perfect balance between all its components. For starters it has one of the finest intro scenes the gaming world has ever witnessed. Drake hanging from a busted train off the edge of a cliff, bleeding and with little hope of survival… except it’s Drake of course. That opening will be etched into my poor memory forever and ever and is just the beginning of what is a special game.
Among Thieves improved on everything from the first game. There are more elements thrown into the combat so that you aren’t just shooting all the time. Stealth attacks, break-ins to museums which require timing, and some great puzzle sections that will keep you busy for a while. It also has some spectacular platforming sections making it all come together as a near perfect package.
Of course, that’s even before you get to the characters, new and old, who make the game even more special. Drake’s charm, Sully’s attitude and of course the brilliant Chloe and Elena make every cutscene and piece of dialogue worth paying attention to.
The story follows a similar plot as Drake’s Fortune. There is a secret city that needs to be found with a certain treasure, someone bad wants it. Drake and company plans to get it first to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. It’s tried and tested but still works perfectly for the means of the game.
It helps that on the way you visit some astounding places. Some of the environments and backdrops to Drake’s escapades are breath-taking to say the least. If it weren’t for the review I think I might very well still be stuck gawking at the unbelievably detailed surroundings. It’s a credit to Naughty Dog and Bluepoint for making a good looking game even more visually amazing.
It helps further that Among Thieves has such spectacle about it. There are chapters in the game that are designed so well that you have to wonder if any developer will match it. It’s not just about shooting and platforming in Among Thieves. It’s about running through a city being chased by a tank, and figuring out how to destroy it. It’s about making your way along a train while being shot at from a helicopter with the glorious visuals in the background which can sometimes be a distraction.
Among Thieves is so much more than you’d ever expect from a game and it’s a wonderful testament, even today, to Naughty Dog’s skill and ability. I would probably say that the Uncharted Collection is worth the price just for Among Thieves alone. It’s aged well and despite one or two frustrations with the boss battles it still stands as one of the best.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
If Among Thieves was an evolution of Drake’ s Fortune, then Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception would have to be considered a slight step backwards. Out of the 3 games it undoubtedly looks the best. It has to considering how good it looked previously. It runs amazing well with the upgraded specs and at no point is it a bad game.
I do, however, maintain that it is the worst of the 3 games. It feels at times that Naughty Dog tried to push too hard, or perhaps they just didn’t know how to top Uncharted 2, which is understandable. Do not mistake me, Uncharted 3 is another fantastic game but it suffers from certain issues which prevent it from being as good as Uncharted 2.
It does follow the same basic plot of the other two games, but whereas the previous two followed consistently throughout, some of Drake’s Deception’s story seems to be lacking and missing a couple of plot points. The plot holes can be overlooked somewhat, but are definitely there.
When Drake’s Deception released there was a bit of a backlash in terms of the gunplay. It just felt a bit broken with the aiming being off. Naughty Dog at the time swore that it was the same, but then released a patch which apparently fixed it. The Collection is supposed to have the same gunplay throughout the three games, something Bluepoint worked on as part of the remastering, but I can’t help but feel that Uncharted 3 still feels a little rigid in the shooting department.
Speaking of shooting, if Uncharted 1 had a bit too much of it, and Uncharted 2 had just the right amount, Uncharted 3 has a bit too much of it again. There are sections where you will go through for ages trying to take out all the enemies and if you die you get to do it all again. It can be super frustrating although rewarding when you do get through. There is also an overemphasis on the hand-to-hand combat in Uncharted 3. It’s forced on you quite often and while it feels great at the start, towards the end you will be over the same animations and little QTE’s that get you to beat up enemies.
Those complaints aside, Uncharted 3 still plays really well. It has some excellent strong points too such as getting to look at Nate’s past a little bit as you take control of a younger Nathan Drake when he meets Sully.
One thing that is certainly not a let-down are the visuals. If Drake’s Fortune and Among Thieves have some amazing environments then the backdrops in Drake’s Deception are out of this world. From Deserts to a Chateaux in the middle of a jungle, everything is just oozing beauty. This adds to the action scenes too as you find yourself escaping a building on fire, having a fight on a plane and even more memorable action scenes than you can imagine.
Uncharted 3 also has by far the best puzzle sections. Some of which will keep you busy for a good while and they are not just a matter of looking in your notebook. It’s a great addition to the franchise and something I realised I wish there was more of in the first two games.
I actually enjoyed Uncharted 3 much more this time. Its twists are great, the visuals are amazing and it brings in even more cool characters. It may have some issues in the way it plays but that doesn’t take away from what is a great end to the original trilogy.
While all three games are magnificent to play with the all new ramped up prettiness there has to be a mention of the fact that there is very little different or additional in the games themselves. Motion controls are gone as I mentioned previously but other than that the in-game action is pretty much the same.
There is a new Explorer mode which pretty much has your enemies killing themselves (It’s so easy). I don’t know why anyone would want to play on this level at all, but there you go. There is a new difficulty on the other spectrum for those who want to torture themselves with frustration and have a real challenge throughout the games.
A photo mode has been included, much like The Last of Us had, and there are tons of opportunities to take amazing photos with all the little editing tools, you know, just if you want to keep those memories outside of the game.
The game does have a new “continuous speed run” mode which simply puts a clock in the corner so you can time how long it takes you to get through the game, or the different chapters if you like.
Multiplayer from Uncharted 2 and 3 has been removed completely which may just disappoint some. It would have been cool if one of the games included the multiplayer but I suppose the game does include a pass into the Uncharted 4 beta so that might help matters when it opens.
Other than that, it’s the same games you remember playing back on the PS3, only much better looking and much smoother (which is saying something). There may be no multiplayer included and the director videos are gone, but you are still getting three of the best games on one disc for the price of one game.
For those that have played it before, there’s every reason to do so again, and for those that have never played them well this is your chance to amend that heinous crime. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is undoubtedly the best remastered collection to ever hit the retailers, do not miss out on it.