Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is pure gold. This isn’t surprising, considering that Uncharted is arguably the best action-adventure series in modern gaming history, and here, it’s as faithfully recreated as you would have hoped. Bluepoint Games, the company responsible for porting the Uncharted trilogy to the PS4, have done an excellent job — each title runs perfectly, looks beautiful and controls even better than its PS3 counterpart, and despite a disappointing lack of bonus features, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is the best way to experience the series.
And just to be clear, “series” refers to the mainline PS3 trilogy — Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception — and sacrifices the oft-forgotten but still impressive Uncharted: Golden Abyss on PS Vita. While it’s an excellent game, and one of the Vita’s very best, it doesn’t really strike me as part of the Nathan Drake story — it’s more of a throwaway adventure. Still, it’s a shame to not see it included, but ultimately, it’s not an important loss.
Luckily, you won’t be lamenting this loss for long, because what is included is nothing short of astounding. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Uncharted is the story of Nathan Drake, a happy-go-lucky fortune hunter who navigates deserts, jungles and an entire army of goons with his mentor and lifelong friend, Victor Sullivan. Whether you’re a franchise veteran or not, the Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection offers the perfect starting point for newcomers and hardcore fans alike — allowing you to experience Nathan Drake’s story from the very beginning.
Starting with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and concluding with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, port-house Bluepoint have done a fantastic job with this remaster; upgrading textures, doubling the frame rate and unifying the gameplay across the board. The jungles look lusher than ever, the water looks wetter than ever, and Sully’s moustache looks downright impeccable, with each hair follicle rendered at a solid 60fps — featuring zero dips in performance. Uncharted has always been known for its stellar visuals and hardware-pushing capabilities, and this Ps4 Uncharted bundle is no different — it looks absolutely incredible, and is up there with the finest graphical displays on the PS4.
Often, I would stop Nathan dead in his tracks and gaze across the cityscape onto the horizon. I could make out details on buildings that were incredibly far away — glinting windows, decrepit doors and crumbling stonework — and see that the mountains in the distance were peppered with a very light dusting of snow. I’ve never used the PS4’s photo mode so much, and it felt like a gift from the heavens to be able to pause the game, whip out my virtual camera and snap some shots that Van Gogh himself would be proud of.
This beauty also extends to your protagonists, their villains and the actors behind them. Every single character — whether it’s the cheeky, foul-mouthed Charlie Cutter, the deadly, battle-hardened Lazarevic or Chloe “dat ass” Frazer — is fully motion captured and voice-acted, and it’s here where Uncharted rises head-and-shoulders above the competition. Each actor brings their character to life with aplomb, and this makes them feel that little bit more real. It adds stakes to the action, and where similar titles lack personal investment, Uncharted thrusts you into the trials of its characters with all the emotional resonance of a Spielberg adventure classic.
But, as my mother used to say, looks are all very well and good — but they’re nothing without a killer personality. Luckily for us, original trilogy developer Naughty Dog all but graduated from the school of third-person action, so Uncharted is in fine hands. Climbing mechanics are solid and well detailed — every ledge you need to jump to is cleverly color-coded so it stands out from everything else around it — and I never got lost traversing the various fortresses, caves and temples I found myself in.
Once you land on your feet, gun in hand and grenade in pocket, it’s time to shoot things in the face — and here, Uncharted excels. While Drake’s Fortune is starting to show its age in certain areas — bullet-sponge enemies, arena style combat scenarios and slightly dodgy hit detection, for example — other areas have been improved and modernised. In the PS3 version, you’d have to physically equip a grenade to throw it, but here, Bluepoint have adopted the Uncharted 2 model and made grenades throwable at any time. This improves the flow of combat vastly, and makes the Uncharted trilogy feel more cohesive as a whole on the PlayStation 4.
Shooting has also been tweaked — on last-gen, each game felt radically different to its predecessor, but here, combat has been unified, and this makes them feel more alike. The gunplay in general is very smooth, precise and tight, with just the right amount of auto-aim, and it’s a downright pleasure to pop headshots, spray armoured thugs and basically dance my way through hundreds and thousands of goons. A “killer” personality indeed.
It’s just a shame I wasn’t able to pop any headshots in the multiplayer maps. Fans of the franchise will probably notice the lack of competitive/co-op action in The Nathan Drake Collection, and they’re both sorely missed. The multiplayer portion of Uncharted is severely underrated, and it spawned a passionate, dedicated fan-base that still plays the PS3 versions to this day. I understand why Bluepoint chose not to include it — the disastrous online launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the upcoming Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End were surely deciding factors — but it’s a shame to see such an underappreciated mode hidden from the thousands of people who will play Uncharted for the first time on PS4.
Multiplayer isn’t the only supplement that I felt was missing, and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection suffers from a serious lack of bonus content. While we do get the obligatory photo galleries, in-game cheats and player skins, this would’ve been a great opportunity to include some behind-the-scenes documentaries, character bios or interviews with the cast — after all, a collection is a celebration of a franchise, so why not throw it a party to remember?
Slapping down $60 for three excellent games is undoubtedly a good deal, but you’d be forgiven if you felt like your dollars deserved more bang for their buck.
Regardless, if you’ve yet to dabble in uncharted territory, I highly recommend you strap on your AK-47, commandeer a vehicle and plunder some temples to your hearts content. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is the finest way to experience this wonderful franchise before the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End next April (Update: May) — and I urge you climb aboard the burning, high-speed Uncharted bandwagon as soon as possible.
- Gorgeous environments
- Smooth, precise gunplay
- Story and characters
- Voice performances & mo-cap
- Lack of bonus features
- No multiplayer