HD remakes and re-releases seem to be the flavor of the month don’t they? Developers are almost constantly remastering some of the best selling and highest critically rated games of last generation and giving them a new life on the PS4/Xbox One. Well, with Uncharted 4: Thief’s End just around the corner, it is no surprise that Naughty Dog have jumped on the bandwagon and released the three Uncharted games in one brand new package titled Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. Does the gameplay and Hollywood-style story of these games hold up on new hardware? Lets find out.
Part Indiana Jones, part Lara Croft; Nathan Drake is the suave, scruffy, globe-trotting treasure hunter who is always looking to solve a riddle or two and get his next big score. The Uncharted games all put Drake into increasingly insane situations, like jumping out of a cargo plane in the middle of a desert to fighting ancient werewolves all over the course of a game. A lot of inspiration has been drawn from classic Pulp Magazines where the protagonists were put into similar situations.
If the Uncharted trilogy has one defining characteristic, it is its characters. All of whom are engaging, lovably and memorable. A few moments into Drake’s Fortune (the first of the three games) when we think that Drake’s longtime companion Sully has been murdered, you feel a prang of pain and heartbreak; despite the fact that newcomers have only known Sully for all of five minutes at that point. It is a real credit to the writing team that they managed to create such a bond between the two characters that becomes apparent from such a short amount of time on-screen.
When I first played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, it completely changed how I viewed video games forever. The Hollywood blockbuster style presentation is something that, at the time hadn’t really been done before and even since has been hard to for any other studio to replicate. The other two games in the trilogy just meet and exceed the already high bar set by the original and frankly are a litmus test to how to do storytelling in a digital medium.
The Uncharted games are a series of third-person shooters that put you in the shoes of Nathan Drake as he battles against pirates, gangsters, scarab beetles, werewolves and a whole slew of other enemies. The game is broken into two main elements; combat and exploration, with chapters leaning more towards one or the other.
Combat is relatively standard for the third person genre; hold a button to zoom in on your enemies and pull the trigger. One thing that I did notice was the original games had a tendency to make use of the PS3’s motion controls to throw grenade which no longer seemed present (by default) this time round.
Exploration is the other main focus of the game, although that may not be the best word to describe it. The three games are quite linear in design, but Drake needs to use rock climbing, parkour and other various survival skills to move through the world. There is a surprisingly amount of verticality to the world of Uncharted and each aspect of the environment seems well planned. One of my favourite sections in any video game is when you have to cling to a building’s suspended sign, and aim around it to take out opposing forces.
If The Nathan Drake Collection has one major flaw, it is that the games all act and play almost identically to their original editions. Now that might seem like a little bit of an odd criticism, but hear me out. With each iteration, some controls and features were changed and updated between it. Uncharted (3): Drake’s Deception plays a hell of a lot more differently than Fortune, and it would have been nice for there to be a more unified and cohesive method of gameplay in this collection.
In terms of differences, there aren’t too many. A few extra difficulty modes have been added to the game in the form of “Explorer,” (think really, really easy mode) and “Brutal” (think really, really, REALLY hard). In addition there is a new Speed Run Mode that keeps track of how long you are taking to play the game and compares that to your PSN friends. These additions are nice, but don’t really add all that much to the overall experience.
Also, I will say that I personally am a little disappointed that the PS Vita exclusive prequel – Uncharted: Golden Abyss wasn’t included in the collection. While it isn’t an integral part of the Uncharted saga, the collection would have been a great place to release this often-overlooked gem.
Visuals & Audio
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune came out in 2007 and was an absolute technical marvel at the time. It was such a marvel that even now eight years later, with little more than a few tweaks here and there it still looks absolutely incredible.The lighting, environments and enemies all still look great, and the other two games in the collection have aged just as well. By the time I got to Uncharted: Drake’s Deception, I was really taken aback at how good a last-gen game could still look on the new hardware.
Audio is Uncharted series really thrives, especially the voicework. Since 2007 the voice cast have all gone on to become household names in the gaming world. Nolan North’s portrayal of the sassy, cocky Nathan Drake is just done so perfectly. Having the games brought across almost identically to how they were originally released means that this incredible voice work is maintained, so fans new and old can enjoy an incredible narrative experience filled with characters who have a real chemistry among one another.
Let’s call the Nathan Drake Collection what it is – a HD rerelease of three incredible games. There is no arguing that Naughty Dog’s globe-trotting treasure hunter is one of the PS3’s flagship mascots and it is easy to see why. With such an epic scope, lovable characters, brilliant voicework and downright solid gameplay 0f the Uncharated games will forever go down in history as examples of how to do blockbuster-styled games.
That being said, I would have liked to see more out of this collection. More behind the scenes footage, more interviews, more anything. The whole package just feels a little lackluster and a disservice to the franchise. Although, I have to admit when my main gripe with something is that there isn’t enough of it – well you just might have something truly special on your hands.
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