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Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

by William Schwartz

Arguably the biggest franchise for the PlayStation 3, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series was a big reason to own the console.  It’s hard to imagine anyone who missed the original trilogy on the PS3 given how well the games were received by both critics and fans alike.  Then again, Sony ran into an interesting problem with the PlayStation 4.  They sold so many of them, converted so many players from other consoles, that there are likely those out there that aren’t ready for Uncharted 4.  The solution to this problem is Uncharted:  The Nathan Drake Collection.  The original Uncharted trilogy has been polished up and bundled for the PlayStation 4.  Despite the market becoming saturated with remakes, re-masters, and re-releases, the Nathan Drake Collection is one that both fans of the series will enjoy for its improvements, and those that missed it the first time around can enjoy as a series that stands up pretty well to father time.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection features three games.  Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007),  Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009), and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011) — a series of games that chronicle the adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake,  as well as an interesting all-in-one look at how markedly improved the series grew within this single console cycle.  Certainly more than just a re-release of the first three Uncharted campaigns, Sony tapped Bluepoint to make a number of enhancements to the games in terms of visuals, gameplay tweaks, and new modes.  They’ve also removed the online multiplayer portions from these original releases.

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Those familiar with the Uncharted series are probably very well aware of the quality jump between Drake’s Fortune and Among Thieves.  The first game in this series hasn’t aged very well.  In retrospect, playing it again, it seems very experimental and rough around the edges when compared to the second and third games in the series.  However, the enhancements made in this collection, like the removal of screen tearing, the improved character models, and gameplay unification between the three games make it more playable than its original release.

The best of what Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection has to offer is in the back two thirds and that’s largely due to Naughty Dog’s original improvements to the gameplay, diversity in environments, and commitment to spectacle on a grand scale.  No matter how you cut it though, The Uncharted Collection still doesn’t necessarily deliver the fidelity of a current gen title.  Despite the resolution and frame rate bumps, along with the improvements to lighting, shadows, and other graphical elements, you can still see its last-gen roots showing.

Outside of the meandering campaign and obvious technical shortcomings of Drake’s Fortune, if you can make it through the first volume of the trilogy the other two are a real treat.  Regardless of whether you’ve been on this ride before or not, Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 are both great games that stand the test of time when it comes to both story and gameplay.  Uncharted 2 revealed a Naughty Dog that was much more sure of what they were trying to accomplish with this franchise, and the results are still astonishing when compared to the first game.  Add in the graphical enhancements from Bluepoint, as well as some new modes and unlockables, and Uncharted 2 is just as much fun as it was the first time around.

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New game modes like Brutal Difficulty (Highest Difficulty), Speed Run Mode, and Explorer Mode (Less Combat) all have a pretty defined type of player they are looking to cater to.  While photo mode has been added to the game as a novelty feature.  New trophies have been added to the game as well, and there are 80 bonus skins you can unlock to play as Elena, Sully, and others.  Unfortunately, they also removed the multiplayer modes for both Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3.  As the series progressed Naughty Dog made improvements not only in the single player campaign but in the multiplayer as well.  Uncharted 3 had a pretty robust multiplayer suite that offered a different take on third person shooters, one which capitalized on the game’s penchant for big set piece moments at the beginning of every multiplayer round.  The lack of multiplayer is the one big glaring omission for this game as what’s been added isn’t nearly a replacement in terms of replayability.

Remasters always have you asking the question of whether it was necessary or not.  We’ve seen quite a few games that have been re-released with very minor upgrades to the graphics and labeled a remaster.  We’ve seen some impressive packages that include all of the original content and then some.  Those are the most worthy sorts of remasters in my opinion.  In the case of The Nathan Drake Collection things are a little bit more murky.  While Drake’s Fortune makes the best case for a game that needed significant polishing to even be tolerable in 2015, Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 still hold up pretty well without any upgrades at all.  These already good looking games are only made to look better with resolution and frame rate bumps while most of the other improvements are negligible.  The Nathan Drake Collection doesn’t really add all that much to the original games, but then again features three of the most critically acclaimed single player experiences of the last-generation.

The Verdict

The Nathan Drake Collection most certainly does the job it sets out to do and that’s to get you up to speed on the story of Nathan Drake and excited about Uncharted 4.  However, it also serves as a timeline of sorts.  It’s a collection of games that really showcases how Naughty Dog came to be so beloved by so many PlayStation faithful.

"loved"
loved

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

  • Available On: PS4
  • Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developed By: Bluepoint/Naughty Dog
  • Genre: Third Person, Adventure
  • US Release Date: October 9th, 2015
  • Reviewed On: PS4
  • Quote: "Despite the market becoming saturated with remakes, re-masters, and re-releases, the Nathan Drake Collection is one that both fans of the series will enjoy for its slight improvements, and, those that missed it the first time around can enjoy as a series that stands up pretty well to father time."
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