Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

With the highly anticipated Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End arriving early 2016, many people are eager to get their hands on it. Sadly, we have to wait just a little longer but I am confident that it will be worth the wait.

I've been a big Naughty Dog fan since Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 all the way up to their newest game The Last Of Us. With many Xbox owners coming over from the Xbox 360 to the PS4, they weren't able to enjoy this highly recommended PS3 trilogy on release. Thankfully now though they can! All 3 games are getting released in one collection,including enhanced graphics and better handling. 

Once I heard this information I sold all my PS3 versions to get the all in one collection for the PS4. The collection comprises of Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception.

So here is my review for each game in the Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for PS4, plus a overview of the package as a whole. 

Uncharted: Drakes Fortune


After the success of the Jak and Daxter series on the PS2, many people couldnt wait to see what Naughty Dog had planned next for PS3 players. Showcased at E3 2006, Uncharted wowed with amazing graphics, high production values and a great cast of characters.

A lot of people billed it as a combination of Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones, mixed in with a tongue-in-cheek tone. The Uncharted series' success may have inspired Tomb Raider with its 2013 reboot (Rise of the Tomb Raider is arriving at the end of this year). It was also a huge hit for Nolan North, the voice actor for Nathan Drake, with the game boosting his voice-acting career tenfold.

The Uncharted series at the time did many things what other companies wasnt doing at the time from strong adventure game, great cast of characters, very well thought out story with twists and movie production levels.

Released in 2007, Uncharted introduces us to Nathan Drake who is assisted by a journalist called Elena Fisher in the quest to find his ancestor Sir Francis Drake coffin on the ocean floor. Within the coffin they find a diary pointing to the location of El Dorado, the lost city of gold. Whilst the pair try to find the lost city of gold, they must contend with pirates that are trying to beat them to it.  Without giving away more of the plot, Uncharted is helped along nicely by excellent twists and turns throughout the 8 to 10 hour long story.

I found the story very thrilling from the get go, making you wonder with every step what will happen next to Nathan Drake. Even when you think you are near the end and feel like you know how the game will end, you're confronted with a big twist (one I didn't see coming!), which made the story even better. The game includes a great set of characters that feel believable and are easy to like. Cutscenes allow us to see more of their personality and cheeky wit, which is a pleasure to watch.

Not only does Uncharted: Drakes Fortune have a great story and it also has strong gameplay to compliment it along the way. When it first was released on the PS3 the shooting was a little sluggish, but it still felt satisfying. Grenades incorporated the controller's six access by tilting it back and forth trying to line up the throw. However, this made it clunky in middle of combat. Luckily they have fixed this in the collection now just allowing you to use the analogue stick whilst the shooting felt even more fluid and responsive, like that in Uncharted 2. The game now sports 60fps. Everything feels more refined, polished and playable.

The gameplay includes plenty of variety, from shooting, puzzle solving, climbing and vehicle driving, so the game never feels boring or sluggish. This is were Uncharted shines because any minute the game might change to something else, often with a whole different level design staying fresh for the player. The gameplay does change a little after the big twist, making it more a run-gun gameplay than shoot and cover but still stays solid through out.

When Uncharted: Drakes Fortune come out I was wowed by the graphics and sound design. Constantly I was stopping to take in the scenery and the amazing set pieces, even rolling in the water just to see Drake clothes get wet and slowly dry off (something that wasn't really done this well at the time). Now many years later I find myself still doing the same thing with the enhanced graphics and resolution from the PS4 collection. This just shows how much detail and care Naughty Dog put into this game that even today it still feels special.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Two years later, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was released and it well worth waiting for. The sequel just got everything right, going even higher than the first game from story, characters, set pieces and gameplay. Many regard the second Uncharted game to be a system seller and I've got to agree as it is one of my favourite games of all time. I've completed it many times and have never tired of it.

The game starts with the awesome opening scene of Drake in a destroyed train that is hanging over the cliff side edge. Immediately the excitement factor is ramped up to 10, letting you wonder how he is going to get out of this situation.

Once you are able to climb out of the destroyed train you have a flashback to a few months ago of Drake trying to find out about Marco Polos doomed voyage to China by breaking into the Istanbul museum. This is where he finds out his new adventure will take him to find Shambhala to find the Tree of Life. Same as the last game, the story has many great twists and turns whilst also introducing new characters and many new locations to discover.

They really ramped up the gameplay for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, including so many wow moments that what will make your jaw drop. I cannot fault any part of the Uncharted 2 gameplay. It had me gripped from the start to finish. The set pieces are even more amazing with such high detail that you will want to stop and look at every bit of the game. The shooting has improved so that it feels more responsive and fluid, benefiting from the upgrade to 60fps. You'll have even more variety in gameplay than the first Uncharted now, introducing more vertical gameplay. When it comes to gunplay, you'll be able to shoot people while hanging from ledges, constantly making you change position to get advantage over the enemy. It also introduces stealth elements, allowing you to try to kill as many enemies as you can without being caught. Luckily though the enemy AI has improved a lot, allowing them to try to flank Drake and get one up on him. This is where your new skills come to good use as you will need them especially on the higher difficulty. The climbing is also more fun, making you climb great set pieces to either get to a certain place, to an enemy or to solve a puzzle.

The graphics and animations from Drakes Fortune was improved even more with so many set pieces all feeling very different from each other. You will always have something to look and marvel at, even to this day. With the new improvements it makes the world feel even more believable and realistic

There are not that many enhancements for Among Thieves, but then apart from updating the graphics to be more eye popping, there wasn't really the need to for anything else as they did everything right the first time round.

Im so happy a lot more people will now be able to play Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as its one of my all time favourites and it just shows you how much love and care Naughty Dog had for the game.

There is one bad change though- the great multiplayer has been taken out. They likely did this to save costs as it will be coming back for Uncharted 4: A Thiefs end.

Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception

After another two years of waiting, we were treated to the third game in the series; Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception. After the huge hit of the second game everyone was eagerly anticipating the third. Unfortunately even though still a great game it wasnt as great masterpiece as Among Thieves.

Drakes Deception takes place two years after the events of Among Thieves. We open to Nathan Drake in a London pub, where he is going to make a deal on his ring from his ancestor Sir Francis Drake. Unfortunately for him, the deal turns sour, ending with Drake and his friend Sully taking a bullet. Then we are treated to flashback of 20 years ago and how Nathan met Sully. This time Nathan Drake is following his ancestor voyage to Arabia commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I to search for the lost city of Ubar. Like the last two games, there are many twists and turns along the way. While still a great story that everyone should play, the bad guys didnt draw you in as much and it wasnt as good a story as Among Thieves.

As for the gameplay, thing hadn't changed too much, including the epic set pieces, great story, interesting characters both new and old and gorgeous graphics. Unfortunately when Drakes Deception was first released on the PS3 the aiming felt a bit off. They have resolved this in the collection, making all the aiming across all 3 games feel more responsive and fluid. You will be doing the same thing as the last games such as shooting, driving, climbing, stealth and puzzle solving in a new story with new levels. Another gameplay problem was that unlike the last 2 games that came before it, there isn't really a final boss, just a QTE section.

Same as Among Thieves the multiplayer was cut out but I find this not too big of a deal when Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End is out soon. The game still holds up to be amazing graphically, making you stop time and time again to take in the scenery around you.

New Features Added to 
Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection

  • Stunning enhanced graphics that make the already gorgeous games look just that much better with improved lighting, detail and resolution.

  • Fixes to the gameplay, such as smooth and responsive shooting over all three games. Also it now runs at 60fps, making everything flow so much better.

  • Two new difficulties, 'Explorer' mode and 'Brutal' mode. Explorer mode makes the game more accessible to everyone so they can just enjoy the story with ease in the combat moments. Brutal mode will test the true veterans of the series.

  • Photo mode allows you to take as many pictures of you like from all three games.

  • Speed run mode allows you to set a record for how fast you can complete the game. Compete against friends scores!

Final verdict

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is an amazing set of games to have in your PS4 collection. Comprising of around 30 hours of gameplay, you cant go wrong with the price tag. You will find some of the best games in last 10 years. Even if have played them before, they are worth replaying again just to remind you how great these games are and why so many cant wait for Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End. If this is the first time you playing the series, you're in for a treat, thanks to a compelling story, interesting characters, fun gameplay and stunning set pieces. So get strapped in for a fun thrill ride through three of the best game from last generation, remastered and packaged beautifully in one collection.

Score: A solid 9.5. One of the best remasters to date.

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