Three PlayStation classics in one package
Whenever I reminisce about the PS3 era, one extraordinary game trilogy always seems to come up: Sony’s Uncharted. This action-adventure franchise, developed by Santa Monica-based Naughty Dog, set the benchmark for story-driven gaming, taking us around the world to exotic locations as the world-renowned treasure hunter, Nathan Drake. With countless deserving “Game of the Year” awards to its name, Uncharted is, arguably, the pinnacle of what PS3 had to offer.
In anticipation of next year’s big next entry in the series, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Sony has bundled together the first three games on one disc in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. Available for the first time on PlayStation 4, these games have received the full high-definition remastering treatment from Bluepoint Games, the same team behind superb PS3 ports like the God of War Collection and The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection. As fantastic as their previous efforts were, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, as I discovered, is easily their best work to date.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Developer: Bluepoint Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: October 9, 2015
Genre: action-adventure / third-person shooter
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Relive Drake’s epic adventures in HD
Unlike many of the remastered games we’ve seen this console generation focusing on a single title, in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection you don’t just get one, or even two, but three full single-player campaigns to play through. The collection includes high-definition remastered editions of the following games:
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007) – In Drake’s first adventure, a 400-year-old clue discovered in his ancestor Sir Francis Drake’s tomb propels him to search out El Dorado, the lost city of gold.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009) – Drake is lured back to treasure-hunting by an old friend after learning that a mysterious artifact may hold the secret to finding the legendary Himalayan valley of Shangri-La.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011) – Searching the heart of the Arabian Desert, Drake attempts to find the fabled “Atlantis of the Sands” once visited by his ancestor.
The Nathan Drake Collection does not include the multiplayer modes featured in the latter two games, presumably because of the extensive amount of added development time that would entail, which may come as a disappointment to gamers that enjoy online competitive action. For me personally, I’ve always played Uncharted games for their top-notch, adrenaline-charged single-player campaigns, so I barely felt the absence of the multiplayer components. What you do get in The Nathan Drake Collection is quite possibly the three best action-adventure campaigns to ever grace PlayStation hardware—all completely remade with new modes, stunning visual and audio enhancements, and improved, consistent gameplay across each title.
Beautifully redone graphics
The Uncharted trilogy was always among the most visually arresting on PS3, but even the best-looking games from last generation can look a little dated when compared to PS4’s more powerful graphical standards. With the numerous visual touch-ups by Bluepoint Games, the three Uncharted campaigns included in The Nathan Drake Collection look vastly better, with the second and third entries being nearly as impressive graphically as games built natively on PS4. Drake’s Fortune has been spruced up quite a bit as well, however with it being an 8-year-old game and the least cinematic of the bunch, even in HD it doesn’t quite “pop” like the sequels do.
Bluepoint has done an outstanding job enhancing the three Uncharted games, while at the same time preserving the beautiful art direction established by Naughty Dog. Some of the visual enhancements you’ll find include higher resolution character models, more detailed environmental textures, gorgeous new lighting and shadow effects, and completely re-rendered cutscenes. This fresh coat of paint is especially palpable during iconic set pieces like the speeding train chapter in Uncharted 2 or the desert plane crash in Uncharted 3, which are even more exhilarating in crisp 1080p resolution. If you’ve played The Last of Us Remastered on PS4, the graphical upgrades are even better here, and that’s saying a lot.
Gameplay enhancements and new modes
By and large the biggest gameplay upgrade in The Nathan Drake Collection is the improved framerate, which is locked at a blisteringly fast 60 frames-per-second in all three games. Controlling Drake is now much smoother, and aiming your weapons is easier and more precise. Additionally, some of the streamlined game mechanics introduced later in the series, such as the ability to throw grenades without equipping them, have been brought into Drake’s Fortune to modernize the controls. Other more subtle tweaks were made to make the gameplay across all three games more cohesive, such as adjusting the stickiness of aim assist, the speed of camera movement, and the remapping of buttons to unify controls. While there are still a few key control differences that were introduced in the later games (e.g. Drake’s Deception has much deeper hand-to-hand combat), with all this gameplay fine-tuning, jumping between each of the Uncharted games has never been more seamless.
The Nathan Drake Collection also introduces three new gameplay modes, including an “Explorer” mode that significantly lessens the game’s difficulty, and “Brutal” mode, which as the name implies, is extremely challenging. A new “Speed Run” mode is here as well, letting you play a timed continuous run through each game, or practice individual chapters to set your best time. Finally, there’s a new Photo Mode where you can capture your favourite gameplay moments and share them with your friends. Overall, it’s great to see these new modes, though in terms of “extras,” The Nathan Drake Collection is rather light. Bonuses we see in many other compilations/remasters, such as behind-the-scenes videos, art galleries, or developer notes are curiously absent here.
Access to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Multiplayer Beta
While The Nathan Drake Collection may be missing the multiplayer component for the second and third game, it does offer an online experience to sweeten the pot: exclusive access to the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta. The beta is currently scheduled to take place between December 4-13, so you want to participate, you still have time to join this year’s hottest multiplayer beta.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a superb remastered collection of three of the finest games to ever grace the PS3. The beautifully refreshed graphics look stellar, and the fluidity of the gameplay running at 60 frames-per-second is simply impressive. Packing the entire Uncharted trilogy on one disc is great for gamers looking to discover, or rediscover this amazing franchise before next year’s big release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
+ Incredible remastered graphics
+ Smooth 60 FPS gameplay
+ Breathtaking cinematics
+ Access to the Uncharted 4 Multiplayer Beta
+ Amazing to discover, or rediscover the adventures of Nathan Drake on PS4
– No multiplayer included
– Original Uncharted game doesn’t hold up as well over time
– Bonus content is rather light
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4.25/5 (85%)
By Paul Hunter, Editor Gaming
I work out of Toronto, Ontario as the Editor of Gaming here on the Plug-in Blog and as Editor-in-Chief of NextGen Player. I am thankful for having a loving and patient wife who doesn’t mind my 40 hour a week obsession with gaming. You can follow me on Twitter @NextGenPlayer