A PULP ADVENTURE AT ITS FINEST
For the past few years there have been a few remasters from last gen games coming to current gen hardware. Some of these remasters can be great when the remaster is better than the original release, or they can be lazy ports that don’t add anything significant to make you want to buy it again. Thankfully, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is in the former camp. While Bluepoint Games does add improvements into each of the games, it does take out some of the features that were in the original release.
In 2007, Naughty Dog, best known at the time for Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, released their first game for the brand new PlayStation 3, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It was hailed as the first great PlayStation 3 game. At the time, the gameplay was solid, the characters were great and the story was exciting.
But as with nearly all games, time hasn’t been too kind to Drake’s Fortune. Because of the quality of the sequels, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Drake’s Fortune was rough to play. Not to say Drake’s Fortune was bad, but this was because the sequels had made the gameplay much more diverse and exciting.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune has the most changes in this collection. The Sixaxis controls that controlled your grenade arc and crossing a log are gone for good. You no longer need to move the controller to do simple things, they left it out for a more practical way to do those actions. Because this was Naughty Dog’s first attempt at an action adventure game, some of the mechanics don’t hold up. While the hand-to-hand combat can be fun, it can feel button mashy. When platforming, the camera will give you important angles, but it can be confusing on where to go because it can be hard to tell where to grab onto and what not to grab. Another problem is that whenever you go to a new area, there is a good chance that you’ll be ambushed. The enemy will even ambush you just where you came from moments before. While Drake’s Fortune doesn’t have the set pieces the franchise will be known for, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the perfect stepping stone of the series.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is considered by many to be the best game in the series and one of the greatest games of all time, and with good reason. The story expands, the gameplay is more refined and the series’ well-known set pieces are introduced here. It’s the definition of what sequels should do. Despite releasing in 2009, I won’t spoil the last few chapters, but it should be noted that there are a few enemies that can be a slog to fight. It feels more like work than actual fun. It becomes frustrating when facing off an incredibly tough enemy only to run out of ammo. The enemies get more annoying as the game concludes. Yet, it’s a fantastic adventure romp that is amazing and an absolute must play.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is where the series falters a bit. It’s next to impossible to top one of the very best games of all time. Uncharted 3 is still a great game, but it does have glaring problems that the other two didn’t have. An extended pirate section is easily the worst section in the entire trilogy. The three chapter sequences have nothing to do with the story, and if they took it away nothing would change. The best way to describe it is that it’s filler of a TV series. You’ll watch it once, but would never see it again unless you marathon the whole series. In one room, the game shows you the worst aspect of the whole trilogy. Rushing, hard to kill enemies while they have shotguns, grenades launchers and sniper rifles. It’s a section that isn’t fun to play at all. The story, while having some amazing stuff in it, falls a little flat. It doesn’t help that one of the characters leaves early on and another doesn’t explain how he does what he can do. It’s still a great game that is highly flawed.
Bluepoint Games proves once again why it is the best at remastering old games. Except for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, which has a lot of improvements like the way enemies take damage to making the aiming better, Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 play just as you remember them, for better or worse. With the new 60FPS, the game feels faster and more intense. Everything has a smoothness to it that made me feel like I was playing the trilogy for the first time. It’s a sight to behold. Unfortunately, they didn’t fix everything. Throughout the series you’ll experience areas that will spike the difficulty to a ridiculous degree. It doesn’t help that most of the enemies are bullet sponges. It seems the only game that made sure the enemies weren’t bullet sponges was in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It’s a shame that Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 didn’t get that part right. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune felt easier than I remembered while Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 felt harder.
Sometimes, as with when it was first released, the character movement can feel a little floaty. This can be a little frustrating when doing platforming as you’ll try to drop down to catch your fall only to hop out and fall to your death. It was a problem the games had when they were released and it’s still a problem here. The Nathan Drake Collection does come with extras, but they are mostly skins, tweaks and weapons to play with. When Uncharted 3 was released it was missing these features and it now packs 85 skins you can unlock by either collecting treasure or beating a game on a certain difficulty. Unfortunately, the skins don’t seem to be universal, but they are nice to have.
There is also three new modes to play. Speed Run, which allows you to try to beat the game as quickly as possible. Explore Mode, which is the easiest the series will ever get. And then there is Brutal Difficulty mode. Brutal difficulty is the hardest the game will get. Brutal mode is even harder than Crushing, and it must be unlocked by completing Crushing. As with nearly all remasters, there is a photo mode, this mode is completely ripped from The Last of Us: Remastered, another Naughty Dog game. Don’t expect to take pictures of every second of the game. Certain actions and events will disable photo mode.
While all the improvements are welcome ones, it did come with a catch or two. In Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2, there were behind the scenes videos that told you about the making of these games. None of that is in the collection. It would have been nice to see a retrospective on the making of these games, but considering Naughty Dog is working on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, it would make sense if they didn’t have the time. The major thing that is missing, and it will make or break whether you get it or not, is multiplayer. Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 multiplayer has a big following, so them not including it is a bummer. The Nathan Drake Collection is a purely single player experience.
THE VERDICT: 8.5 OUT OF 10.0
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection features some of the best games of the last generation and while the series’ main issues haven’t been completely fixed, it’s still an incredible experience to have. If you never played the series before, this collection is a no brainer. If you have played it before, you’ll have to ask yourself on what you like best; the single player, multiplayer or how big of a fan you are of the series. Regardless on if you wait or buy it now, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a must own.
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Jesse Webster is a Senior Writer for MONG and is treasure hunting.