Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developers: Naughty Dog, Bluepoint Games
Platform: PlayStation 4
This week, after months of anticipation, I was able to pick up a copy of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. I’d been fighting the urge to go and repurchase the original games on PlayStation 3 for some time, but knowing that a current-gen release was just around the corner, I held off for as long as I could. The Nathan Drake Collection was developed by the collaborating teams of Naughty Dog and Bluepoint; and while you may be familiar with Naughty Dog, you may not know Bluepoint Games by their name, and you definitely should. They were behind some of the best HD Rereleases of the last Generation, including but not limited to the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. The PlayStation 4’s Nathan Drake Collection contains all three Uncharted games released on the PlayStation 3, and makes sure you know it isn’t just a simple upscale. All three titles are now running in 1080p at a very nice 60 FPS with only a few noticeable frame rate drops, but that’s mostly in the cutscene transitions.
For those of you still unaware of what Uncharted is, I think the best way to describe it is to say it’s like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft made a baby (the franchises, not the characters, though there’s probably art depicting that scenario somewhere). The games tell the story of Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter and thief who travels the world attempting to unravel the mysteries of Sir Francis Drake, the famous navigator and Nathan’s ancestor. Across the series, you travel through amazing ruins and exotic locations, putting together a perfect mix of fact and fiction as the story unfolds. To me, that’s the best part about this franchise; the story. Legacy of Kain writer Amy Hennig did a fantastic job crafting the tales of Drake, making him into a relatable protagonist who had his strengths and weaknesses. While he may seem immortal by some of the situations he survives, you’re always unsure if he’ll pull through until the end credits (At least before you KNEW there was a sequel). Honestly, Nathan Drake is up there on my list of favorite characters in gaming today and the cast of characters you meet along your adventures are the back bone of that decision. Whether it’s talking about beautiful women from Peru with Victor “Goddamn’ Sullivan, attempting to aid Charlie Cutter through his claustrophobia, or getting into feisty conversation with recurring heroines Elena Fisher and Chloe Frazer; every character is unique, well written, and three-dimensional. Which may be the hardest thing for a writer to do, especially across three games.
But that’s enough about the stories. I will NOT be touching on them in detail in this review due to the fact that I’d like to avoid spoilers for those of you who haven’t played the games before and because I’m not really capable of reviewing three different game’s stories in detail at once. Let’s just say if you’re a fan of Indiana Jones, you will definitely love the formula of these games.
But as always, the most important part of reviewing a video game is the gameplay, so how is it? How well did the games translate from 30 to 60 frames? Well running at 60FPS I have to say it’d be hard to go back. It feels nice, smooth, natural, and feels like the way the games should be played. While playing the first two games over the course of two days (Which was exhausting) I was reminded of last year’s The Last of Us Remastered. Both took previous gen games and brought them up to snuff with what the consumer wants out of their new PS4s.
Both franchises have pretty damn smooth gunplay that can and often does shift into seamless, albeit simplistic melee combat. A lot of climbing too. If you want to get anywhere in Uncharted, you’re going to have to climb to get there, and while these segments are pretty fun at first, there was something that really started to bug me as I powered my way through the games. I wished I had more options to get around, instead of the one correct answer to the parkour puzzle. This series also stands as one of the best cover-shooters, with satisfying weapons and explosives ensuring encounters are always action packed.
However, I am willing to put that aside because Uncharted is very clearly a narrative-driven, set-piece focused game. The limits on climbing aside, Uncharted is a very fast paced series, filled to the brim with explosions, helicopter battles, fist fights on top of trains, and romance; it’s just an all-around fun equivalent to Hollywood action flicks. I have to admit that I regret not playing through the original games sooner. I originally played through the series back in 2012 and it quickly became my favorite new IP of last gen, and with The Nathan Drake Collection being sold at the price of a single game, there is now a definitive way to play the adventures of Naughty Dog’s new icon.
While this review is short, let it be known that there is almost no end to the good things I can say about these games and have only cut it down as not to dive back into gushing about the story. I can’t not recommend this collection enough. It’s three games, dozens of hours of content all sold at the price of a single price. Except for one thing…
The only downside to this collection is the absence of any of the multiplayer components, so you will not be able to play through the amazing online multiplayer modes Naughty Dog made for Uncharted 2 and 3. While this is disappointing for sure, it should be noted that the Nathan Drake Collection comes with a beta key for the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End multiplayer (set to go live on the 4th of December). So if you were to ask me why we didn’t get the multiplayer, I’d probably tell you they didn’t want to pull attention away from the beta and Uncharted 4’s incoming online scene.
Finally and as always, because I’m required to give games a review score. I’m going to do this a bit differently, this time I’m going to give individual scores to each of the three games and average it out.
-Uncharted Drake’s Fortune gets an 8 out of 10. It was a great start to what would end up becoming one of the best franchises in gaming.
-Uncharted 2: Among Thieves gets a 9 out of 10. Easily the best in the series, and honestly one of my favorite games of all time.
–Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception gets an 8 out of ten. It’s not as good as the second game, but very rarely does the third game in a trilogy ever get as good as this.
When averaged out this gives Uncharted The Nathan Drake Collection a solid and well deserved 8 out of 10. Even if you decide to wait on picking this up, I can’t say enough how worthwhile it is. The Uncharted Nathan Drake Collection is the perfect way to relight the flames of interest in the Uncharted franchise leading up to the March release of Uncharted 4.