Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
When the first Uncharted game landed back in 2007, the most common and astute observations pegged it as a mix of Tomb Raider’s gameplay with the charm and wit of Indiana Jones. Fast forward to 2015 and Lara Croft has been rebooted with some definite nods to Nathan Drake, whilst there’s speculation about an Uncharted film to wash away the sour taste left by Indy’s last escapade.
With a fourth game set for release early next year, developers Naughty Dog and publishers Sony are capitalising on their success with Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, a remastered look back at the first three PS3 games. Having deftly handled upgrades of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Bluepoint Games join the Uncharted ranks and showcase why they are becoming the go-to team for such projects.
The Uncharted games were never anything but gorgeous but this facelift for PS4 really brings out some zing. The first chapter, Drake’s Fortune, is the understandable beneficiary here, being the oldest of the games. Textures are that much sharper, draw distances that much farther and the fluidity of sixty frames-per-second is simply icing on a particularly yummy cake. There’s also been a tightening of the combat mechanics, which were always above average for this type of adventure game anyway, but now gunplay is that little bit snappier.
The first game perhaps sags a little from an overuse of such battles and a couple of unwelcome difficulty spikes but most of these complaints are retro-active, brought about by the superior second outing, Among Thieves. Here Naughty Dog really stepped up a gear with set pieces, locations and storytelling for what is, for many, the highpoint of the series. Again there are the aforementioned cosmetic improvements and whilst Among Thieves perhaps needed less a lick of paint than its predecessor, it’s definitely the more visually-stunning game.
Drake’s Deception ends the trilogy on a more-or-less equal footing, bombastic and cinematic in all the right places – the cargo plane jump is up there with Among Thieves’ iconic opening act in our book. It’s difficult not to be bowled over by the sheer scale and ambition of the series when you can dip in and out of all three games rather than wait two or three years between titles.
That said, Naughty Dog have apparently stated that this collection is aimed at PS4 owners who missed Sony’s previous console – a not-too shabby amount judging by the lacklustre numbers of the Xbox One when compared to its predecessor. In that respect, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a system stand-out, almost as essential a purchase as Naughty Dog’s other remaster, The Last of Us.
For those who followed Nathan Drake’s adventures the first time around, there’s plenty of reason to go back for a second helping should you feel inclined but there’s nothing here beyond the games themselves. Whilst no one is likely to miss Uncharted 2 and 3’s multiplayer modes (tacked on as they were) it would have been nice if there had been some fan-pleasing, optional extras included. It might seem churlish to complain in the face of such great games but even a little background detail or behind-the-curtain peek would have made all the difference.
Still, it’s clear all the love and attention has gone into the remastering process itself, which is no bad thing given some other titles have merely cashed in on next-gen upgrade without putting in half the work here. Criticisms of an industry becoming reliant on dusting off classic titles may hold true overall, but on a case by case basis, Uncharted clearly proves that some games are more deserving than others.