We’re now five months away from the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and now is a good a time as any to relive the adventures of Nathan Drake. That’s exactly why publisher Sony and remaster developer Bluepoint Games have given us Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. For those that don’t already know, the collection consists of remastered versions of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (respectively). The biggest difference is that all multiplayer iterations are missing from the collection, so this is just for the purpose of reliving the three main Uncharted stories at their fullest potential.
So how well done are the enhancements? They’re extremely well done if you ask me. The games run at full 1080p resolution and at 60fps. I found that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune ran exceptionally smooth, and I was able to aim and pull off headshots quicker and cleaner than I remember on the PS3 version of the game. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is my favorite of the series, so you can imagine my delight at playing through the excellent Nepal levels, where buildings crash into each other and furniture flies all around Drake as he struggles to navigate through a building while under fire from a chopper. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is clearly the most polished of all three games, and that’s reflected in this collection as it looks the closest to a modern, current-gen game graphically.
There’s no doubt here that Bluepoint has done an exceptional job raising Naughty Dog’s babies to the current day. But here’s a little break down of my thoughts on each game individually.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Being that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the oldest of the Uncharted games, it clearly benefits from the remastering the most. The original game ran at 720p, and the remastered version runs at 1080p/60fps with post-process anti-aliasing. It’s not just a lazy upscale, entire textures and components have been recreated to compliment the power of the PS4. Watching Digital Foundry’s feature on the remaster will show just how much detail was added to the game.
I played a ton of Drake’s Fortune back in the day, so I can easily tell how beneficial the 60fps is. Gameplay elements are much smoother, buttons are more responsive, and lining those headshots up is a breeze.
I often get upset that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is overlooked, simply because the following two games were such a huge step up for the series. There’s no denying that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves kind of left Drake’s Fortune in the dust, but that doesn’t mean that Drake’s Fortune isn’t a game worth playing. I would even go as far as saying that Drake’s Fortune is still better than a lot of games that have been released today.
Though the set piece action scenes aren’t as dramatic as those in the following Uncharted games, and the thrill aspect isn’t as exhilarating, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is still an enjoyable platforming experience, with some of the most satisfying combat sequences. If you get this collection, do not ignore this first game because your friends told you it was okay to skip it. It’s important to understand where the Uncharted series started in order to appreciate the next two games even more.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
If you need an example of why Naughty Dog is perhaps the most talented studio out there today, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the perfect testament to that. The PlayStation 3 was reportedly a difficult platform to master when it came to development, but Naughty Dog was able to deliver one of the most technically superior games of that age on a system that was supposedly restrictive.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves remains my favorite game in the Naughty Dog library, and there was nothing more satisfying than reliving the experience at its full potential. If there were anything negative to say about this game, it would be that the CGI cutscenes do look dated in this game, mainly because of the fact that it looks slightly like a cartoon when compared to games of this era. But then again, it’s also unfair to compare a 2009 game to a 2015 one when it comes to CGI. The in-game graphics however, are as beautiful as I remember them looking, and they alone can stand up to many games of this age.
With this game, the changes in the remaster are much more subtle compared to the work done on Drake’s Fortune, but even so, it’s not too difficult to appreciate this game that is already a masterpiece running at 1080p/60fps. It features post process anti-aliasing, and unlike Drake’s Fortune (which required new assets), the assets from the original Among Thieves game were dropped in and touched up.
While it may sound as though Bluepoint needed to do less work on this game, it would be a disservice to them to say such a thing. They clearly did much more than they needed to here, as there are entire textures that have been enhanced, there’s also an abundance of texture filtering and lighting effects that have been added. They went out of their way to ensure that this classic would now be played at its full potential, no longer restricted by the boundaries of its hardware.
As a full on adventure game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is hands down my favorite, and this remaster was a reminder of why. If you’re one of the people that struggle to understand the appeal of the Uncharted series, then playing this game should be enough to convince you that we need more Uncharted games.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is the most technically superior in the series, the graphics are the most polished, and it plays host to a number of new gameplay additions. I’d still lean towards Among Thieves being the better package simply for the story and level design, but you can’t doubt the level of quality Naughty Dog put into Drake’s Deception.
The assets in the Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception remaster are largely the same, with a lot of minor tweaks to bring them up to scratch. The game also runs at a maximum of 60fps, with some minor drops during the more action heavy sequences. Just like the two prequels, the resolution also sits at a lovely 1080p with post process aliasing.
The biggest thing to write home about with this remaster is the aiming. When the game was originally released on PlayStation 3, there were many complaints about the aiming being sluggish, making it harder to line up precision shots. While Naughty Dog did patch this issue, it didn’t feel a hundred percent tuned. Bluepoint has thankfully been able to resolve this issue, and now the aiming is a pleasure to work with.
In terms of the story, I found Drake’s Deception to be the weaker of the three, but that opinion is largely subjective and will come down to preference. I also thought the level design wasn’t as satisfying as Among Thieves, and though Drake’s Deception features some of the most ambitious set-piece sequences in the trilogy, I feel like they’re much more short lived than the ones in Among Thieves. The airplane and sinking ship levels in Drake’s Deception are over way too quickly for them to leave a lasting impression, and ultimately there were no moments that topped the collapsing building and the moving train levels from the previous game. I also feel like the pacing is a little more disjointed than in the other two games.
With that being said, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was Naughty Dog’s most impressive work until they released The Last of Us in 2013. Remastered, it’s that much better than it was in 2011.
Whether you’re experiencing these Uncharted games for the first time, or reliving them, There’s no doubt that this collection is a treat for all PS4 owners. These are games I feel like I can play again and again, and I even put off playing them again on the PS3 simply because I knew this collection was coming out.
The biggest slap in the face here for most is the fact that the multiplayer from Uncharted: Among Thieves and Uncharted: Drake’s Deception is missing. For me personally, I feel like those multiplayer experiences were great at the time of release, but they’re not experiences that I’m eager to relive currently. I feel like the main single-player experience in these three titles is all that needs to be preserved going forward. This will all come down to opinion, but for the most part the absence of multiplayer doesn’t blemish the collection. If anything, I would have asked for Uncharted: Golden Abyss from the Vita to be included, but even the lack of Golden Abyss isn’t enough to boycott this collection.
In an age where HD remasters are becoming the norm, and many of them are completely unwarranted, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a remaster that I would highly recommend to every PS4 owner. Each game has aged well, and with the new enhancements, they’re even better than before.
This review is based on a review copy of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection sent to us by SCEE for the PlayStation 4.