The Nathan Drake collection brings back some old favourites in a package that’s too tempting to resist
Having already given us shiny new versions of classics in the form of Metal Gear Solid HD, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection and God of War Collection, makeover specialists Bluepoint Games are back, and this time with one of the most beloved franchises from the PS3: Uncharted. The Nathan Drake Collection includes the games from the first Uncharted trilogy: Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception. While the package stills smells a little of the old record label strategy of issuing remasters and compilations to cash in on beloved works of art, it will take you two minutes of gameplay to realise that your money was well spent. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake collection is the best way to play all three of Nate’s adventures – and that’s saying a lot.
Let’s start at the beginning. Drake’s Fortune was Naughty Dog’s take on a modern Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider, and a great game to boot when it launched way back in 2007. It could be unforgiving, beautiful and challenging with its gunplay and platforming, and its style of storytelling would become a Naughty Dog trademark in the years to come. Drake’s Fortune is also the game that benefits most from the remastering. A game that would look dated, now looks amazing, thanks to both the 1080p/60fps video delivery as well as the various enhancements including high-resolution textures, better character models, lighting and incorporation of motion blur. Among Thieves was the best-looking game on console since its release in 2009 all the way up to The Last of Us in 2013 (I would argue), while Drake’s Deception wasn’t a slouch in the graphics department either. These were all great looking games, and by leveraging the power of newer hardware, they’re made to look and perform better.
Do the games hold up? Yes, they’ve aged surprisingly well for the most part. Yes, there are certain instances where a design choice could feel archaic by today’s standards, but the driving force behind Uncharted has always been the storytelling techniques employed. The platforming most certainly holds up and the new controls bring the third-person shooting up to scratch (more on this in a bit).
The effect of higher frame rate on gameplay can never be understated. It isn’t simply about having buttery smooth visuals—it’s the equivalent smoothness of translating controller input into visual feedback that’s just as important. The Nathan Drake Collection stills feels like you’re playing your favourite Uncharted games, only they control a million times better. Bluepoint has clearly put in a lot of work not just remastering Uncharted, but reworking its control scheme. The sometimes-clunky aiming we’ve experienced in the past is now incredibly snappy and precise, with movement feeling more fluid while QTEs are easier to pull off as well.
It was also good to see that the cutscenes have been given the same treatment as the game. Running in-engine and also at 1080p/60fps, these meet the graphics standards of the remaster. We’ve seen cinematics ignored quite often, with packages that have the old videos at terrible resolutions, but that’s not the case here. Again, everything you see here will be quite familiar. It’s just that everything looks shinier than it ever did. What is particularly impressive is that all the cutscenes and the games themselves are just a touch over 45GB—which means that everything fits in a single Blu-ray disc. That’s some good compression by any standards, and the fact that there’s no evidence of it is amazing.
In terms of new additions, Bluepoint has been kind enough to include a Photo Mode – something straight out of The Last of Us remaster. With the press of a button, you will be able to freeze gameplay as you gain complete control over the camera. Move it around and take photos for days, if you’re into that sort of thing. Additionally, there are two more difficulty settings: Explorer and Brutal difficulty. While the former is intended to cater to newer players (easier combat), the latter is for hardcore Uncharted fans and completionists. A Speed Run mode is also present, adding a timer to levels, with the inclusion of a leaderboard style system where players can compare their level completion times with friends.
The Lone wolf
I should also point out that it’s super easy to switch between the three games at any point thanks to the slick UI. Your progress in each of the episodes is stored separately, so you’ll be able to play them in any order at any time. A slew of audio options is also now included, allowing extensive customisation of your speaker/home theatre/headphone setups.
Biggest disappointment? The lack of multiplayer. Uncharted 2 and 3 had some memorable online PvP moments for me personally, and despite months of preparation I was sad to see its absence in The Nathan Drake Collection. On the bright side, you’ll get access to the Uncharted 4 beta, which is set to take place between December 4th and 13th by merely purchasing the remastered bundle. I’m not sure if it’s a good deal for this alone, but the value The Nathan Drake Collection represents overall is very good indeed. With 30+ hours of solid action/adventure gameplay, cutscenes comparable to big budget Hollywood movies and some of the best voice acting around, this is a no-brainer if you’re an Uncharted fan.
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