Game Name: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer(s): Naughty Dog, Bluepoint Games
Release Date: 10/7/2015
Three of the most beautiful games in history just got prettier, and they’re pretty fun too.
For those fresh to the series, Uncharted is the saga of Nathan Drake, a determined treasure hunter who races around the world and gets into all sorts of trouble. But, whether or not you’ve played any of the entries in the series, you probably knew that. Over the course of the PS3’s life span, Drake became not just a Sony staple, but perhaps the most important IP in their stable. It would be fair to say that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the most anticipated upcoming title on the PS4, and it’s delay into 2016 was not taken well. But, as recompense, we now have The Nathan Drake Collection, a fantastic remaster of the previous three (primary) entries in the franchise.
First and foremost, Bluepoint Games has done a great job tuning up the graphics, especially in the lighting and texture department. While Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception still look great in their original forms, environments now look even more vibrant and feel more organic. With less to work with, Drake’s Fortune is certainly starting to show some age. There is less detail in the surroundings, while fire and particle effects are clearly dated. That being said, the work that went into these games is most apparent in that first title, with the starkest contrast to the original. The bottom line is, these games were gorgeous to begin with, even rivaling today’s AAA titles such as The Phantom Pain. It isn’t simply the backgrounds, it’s the characters that fill them and how lifelike they are. The extra polish is icing on a cake that Naughty Dog baked years ago.
Surprisingly, this remaster makes a fair amount of changes in the gameplay department. Combat has been pretty much equalized across the board. There are minor differences, like the melee systems, but overall the best of the series was implemented throughout. No more wagging the controller to throw grenades in Drake’s Fortune, no more awkward camera movement in Drake’s Deception (which was patched, to be fair). It is quite unbelievable how much easier it is to play the games with these frustrations removed, and I cannot stress how fun it is to do so.
The gunplay and platforming are good, but the true draw of these games lies in their cinematic design. I don’t just mean the story and cut scenes, which are fabulous. It’s the pacing of the set pieces, the balance between action and puzzle solving, and how the camera is directed to augment the epic nature of it all without confusing the player. The games average about 10 hours to play through (it took me 27 to finish all three), making them great weekend marathons. On the other hand, individual chapters and set pieces make for great half hour play sessions as well.
Like other remasters they have done, Bluepoint has added some extra features. The “continuous speed run” mode along with the ability to track your stats against those of your friends should provide some longevity for those who like a challenge. On top of that, with each set of the original trophy sets come new ones specific to the Collection. While I would say the games themselves provide value enough, this suite certainly does not hurt.
It is here, then, that I will discuss something the Collection lacks: the multiplayer functionality of the originals. While I never myself put too much time into these modes, they were fun and had a steady player base. On one hand, it was made clear that multiplayer would not be a part of the Collection. To be quite frank, the three single player campaigns more than justify the price tag. That being said, it is somewhat disappointing that the multiplayer wasn’t included.
The honest truth, however, is that the exclusion of the multiplayer components from the original games is the only negative I can really think of. At the end of the day, if you haven’t played these games, this title is a must buy. If you have, then this is a great opportunity to catch up on Drake’s story thus far in anticipation of the ending.
Overall Score - 9/10
- An absolutely gorgeous set of games
- Enthralling story and characters
- Superb game design
- Speed run mode and stat tracking
- No multiplayer :(