Review: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)

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Title: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (43.47 GB)
Release Date: October 7, 2015
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog / Bluepoint Games
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation 4 disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 442 of the podcast.

The Uncharted series is one that defined PlayStation in the previous generation and backed their claims about “not buying third party exclusives”.

Yes, the series was definitely inspired in-part by the Tomb Raider games up to that point, but Naughty Dog definitely strayed a good deal to make it something truly special and unique. It was the first time that I actually felt like I was a character in a classic pulp comic, and obviously like I was actually Indiana Jones.

I’m not going to bother with giving you recounts of the specific game plots etc., but instead I’ll discuss what’s been changed, what’s been added, and if this is really worth $60.

Gameplay:
The possibility of Bluepoint bringing the refined controls from the later games to Drake’s Fortune really excited me, and I’m happy to report that they did.

After going back to play the first game a few years ago, I quickly realized that Uncharted 2 & 3 had spoiled me, as it felt really stiff (phrasing?). It was great for the time, but yeah, it was tough to go back to.

However, that’s a thing of the past. All three games feel fantastic and that applies across the board. That’s actually the overlying theme too, consistency, and it’s something that makes the experience so great.

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I played all three games back-to-back, and aside from some game-specific additions (like the changes to hand-to-hand combat as the series progressed), almost everything about all three games feels the same and that helped so much in getting me through all of them.

Combat both with your fists and with the myriad of weapons that you’ll pick up just feels right again, and having the tweaked controls in all three games is pretty great.

… a new Speed Run mode …
I will say though, when I originally played Uncharted 3 it always felt to me that getting a head shot was different than the previous games, and I’m getting that again. I’m not sure if it’s just a more refined hit detection or what, but it’s kind-of cool that Bluepoint kept the little nuances like that in the specific games.

Two new difficulty settings have been added specifically for this collection, “Explorer” and “Brutal”. This allows for the “Crushing” difficulty to be available right from the start. Previously, it had to be unlocked but this is now required for “Brutal” instead.

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The Explorer difficulty is there for just that, for people that want to explore the environment for all of the hidden treasures and for beginners. I can’t even imagine how tough the “Brutal” difficulty is by the way, and since I only have “so much time” to get this review done, I didn’t play on Crushing all the way through so I couldn’t unlock it.

I did play a section on Crushing though, and yeah, that’s not for me. Another addition though is specifically targeted at the more Hardcore out there, and that’s a new Speed Run mode. Speed Run adds a timer, and will even allow you to compare times and more with specific online leaderboards.

… set the bar for visuals in a video game …
Finally, and something that I love, is the ability to unlock a ton of bonuses, my favorite being the numerous player skins. These are the same ones that you would use in the Multiplayer on the original games. There are a ton of skins to open in each game, and playing as Elena or even better, Doughnut Drake, is pretty damned cool.

The new skins don’t appear in cutscenes and no matter what, all of your enemies still treat you as if you’re Nathan Drake, but hey, give it a try because it’s a lot of fun.

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Visuals:
One thing about the Uncharted series is that they definitely set the bar for visuals in a video game no matter what platform you were looking at. Naughty Dog found some incredible tricks to make the PS3 do what no one else seemingly could, and it just kept getting better from game-to-game.

Now, all three games are “targeting” 1080P/60FPS, and when they say targeting they mean it, because through all three I never once noticed a hitch. That could be simply because I was concentrating too much, or any drop in framerate was so subtle that I simply didn’t notice.

… all of the cutscenes have also been redone …
Not only were those items improved, but everything else has been as well. Among these are the geometry on characters and the environment, increase in texture quality, and also the lighting techniques from the later games being applied to all three now.

You’ll still see the occasional clipping issue, especially with foliage, but honestly everything is incredibly solid and beautiful. The one thing that really stood-out to me though, is that unlike some other HD Remaster collections in the past, all of the cutscenes have also been redone and they look fantastic.

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The detail, especially on the characters, is a pretty big leap from old to new and I actually had to go back to the PS3 versions to see the difference for myself.

The trend that you’ll notice throughout this review is the fact that the biggest difference between the originals and remastered versions happens in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

… brought a couple of mechanics from the newer games …
In its day it was groundbreaking in many ways, but going back to the first one after you’ve played Uncharted 2 & 3, the gameplay feels stiff as a board. And even though it still looks great, in comparison the visuals definitely feel deficient.

Now, all three games look and control the same across the board. They’ve even brought a couple of mechanics from the newer games to Drake’s Fortune like the “Baseball Throw” for grenades, which is one of my favorite things.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection™_20150928212553

Quite honestly, for many gamers, if they didn’t know these were remasters they’d be quite happy with how the games look on the PS4 now.

The most telling difference from a game made for the system is a lower level of detail in a few scenes, but even then it’s tough to spot. The most evident that I can think of is the long shot of the abandoned submarine from the first game, but it still looks great.

… comprehensive Photo Mode has been added …
Keep in mind though, with all of these upgrades that doesn’t mean that the areas in the games that people didn’t like are gone, they’re not. The last Jet Ski section of Drake’s Fortune can still be frustrating in terms of controls when you try to make your way up river, and the shipyard in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is still confusing at times.

Lastly, as we’ve seen in some of the other remakes, a comprehensive Photo Mode has been added. Accessed by pressing ‘Down’ on the D-pad, you’ll have a pretty hefty amount of options at your disposal including adding a film grain look, full camera movement, different filters and frames, and brightness controls. It’s fun to mess with, and I love that this is becoming a trend.

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Audio:
Something that’s always been a standout in the Uncharted series is the audio, both with the in-game sounds and the outstanding soundtracks, and now everything has been remastered in discrete 7.1 surround.

The level of control you have over the sound settings is impressive too, allowing you to either auto-sense what your output device supports or by fiddling with it yourself.

… This makes an audiophile like me very happy …
My 7.1 system is actually pretty beefy, which allows me to go full-out with the game’s capabilities, and it rivals the audio in many games made today. It’s been one of my favorite soundtracks for years, and hearing those horns right from the start brought a smile to my face.

Headphone users don’t have to fear, because they also give you some controls as well, and in the three different headsets that I tried, all sounded fantastic.

Explosions have an oomph that you expect, voices are stellar throughout, and even the environments all have their own signature. This makes an audiophile like me very happy.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Here’s my biggest disappointment, but I understand. The multiplayer modes from Uncharted 2 & 3 have not been transported to the PlayStation 4 and this makes me really sad.

Our community has had so many memorable experiences playing together online, including an amazing session with the Dogs during Extra Life a couple of years ago, and I long for that again in this new generation.

… an even better game than it was …
I know that I won’t have to wait much longer, but I can’t say that I’m not disappointed that at least one of the two games doesn’t include the online modes.

Online leaderboards on the other hand are present, including pop-ups when you pass someone on your Friends List in categories like head shots or silent kills. I found myself actually trying to make sure that I was ahead of the others playing the game early, so yeah, very cool feature.

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Conclusion:
So, is it worth the price for those that have played these before? For me, hell yes it is! It’s been so long since I’d played the first two games that it almost felt like it was the first time again, especially Drake’s Fortune.

Not only that, the refinements and additions make the experience so similar across all three games, and it just adds so much to the experience. The biggest changes are obviously applied to the first game, and it makes Drake’s Fortune an even better game than it was.

Yes, at its core, this collection is a new coat of paint, but additionally the gameplay has become so much more refined. It’s the best “Remastered Collection” available in my opinion and it’s such a great feeling to play through these again, even with that damned Jet Ski section in the first game.

Bluepoint has done a fantastic and worthy job with this collection and it’s the perfect run-up to Uncharted 4 early next year. I also love that they’ve taken some steps to allow for multiple playthroughs and have made attempts to make the games more accessible to both beginners and those that want even more of a challenge.

If you’re a fan of the Uncharted series or if you’re new to the PlayStation ecosystem and like Action-Adventure games, this is worthy of your time and money, and don’t forget, this gives you access to the Uncharted 4 beta as well.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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