Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

My experiences with the Uncharted series began back in early 2008, a short time after Uncharted Drakes Fortune released on the Playstation 3. I never heard anything to do with this game and had no idea what it was. I was searching around the bargain bins at my local gaming store and found Drakes Fortune sitting alone with a price tag of only $15. With a shortage of games to play at the time and a small amount of spare cash to splash, I picked it up and took it home. It was only about five minutes into the game before I hit my first "wow" moment. I have never seen a character walk through water before to have the water level determine how much of the players clothes appeared wet. My pants were submerged up to my knees in water and that's where the wet look stopped. It looked amazing and blew me away for a game of that time. I kept playing and was continually impressed with the integration of action and cut scene with the blurred reality of what I was controlling to what was predetermined by animation. Dynamic jumping from platform to platform meant that animations varied depending on how high or far I jumped. A mammoth amount of effort was put into this game that I'd never even heard of.

When the sequel was announced I got excited and had my money ready to drop on day one. The first 5 minutes of Among Thieves once again blew me away. After playing the starting section on the train that hangs off the side of a cliff I decided to start the game again just so I could play it again and show it to my less than impressed wife. I knew she wouldn't care but I pressured her to watch it anyway. It reeled her in regardless of her non gamer interests. I played through the game with her intently watching on. On occasion I would progress the story while my lovely wife was away at work and when she found out that she missed a section of me playing the game, she got upset with me. A game that plays like an action movie that even non gamers love to watch. It's just a masterpiece. Take this as a hint, if your significant other doesn't play games, but likes a good action film, get them to watch you play. They might just like it.

Uncharted 3 did all this again and more. Once again my wife was on board to watch me jump around levels and meet mysterious women and mischievous enemies. The story was impressive and spans across the lifestyle of a young man that does the things that I could only wish I had the abilities to do. All three existing Uncharted games push the limits of gaming for their time and put gamers through a whirlwind roller coaster ride of fun, excitement and impressive moments of "wow". These three games alone made sure that I never moved away from the Playstation format due to them being an exclusive title which is only available on the Playstation 3...Until now.

I kicked off my Nathan Drake Collection playthrough with the first in the series, Drakes Fortune. Obviously, due to it being the oldest in the series, Drakes Fortune needed the most work to fix the parts that weren't really up to scratch with the rest of the series. The shooting mechanics were probably the weakest aspect to Drakes Fortune and I am happy to say that this has been amended with excellent results. The targeting system feels smoother now and drake looks as though his gun is pointed towards where he is shooting. The aim and shoot mechanic has been adapted from the next two games which makes for a more uniform experience throughout the three games. I also noticed that the gimmicky "sixaxis" parts have also been removed which does not sadden me in the slightest. It wasn't really all that exiting to tilt the controller while walking across a log anyway.

I guess the most noticeable upgrade is the splendid 1080p resolution with the smooth as silk 60fps. The game runs perfectly and is difficult to fault with this new upgrade. Along with the higher resolution, a lot of the textures have been recreated to offer a clearer image and better detail. There are a lot of upgrades that most won't notice, but it's the small detail that shows that this remaster has been treated with care. For example, in the opening scene (Drake's Fortune) on the boat, if you look closely, you can see that a rope laying on the ground has been upgraded which gives it a more rounded appearance and looks more like rope should. There are also upgrades to Drake's wet suit which shows off greater detail. The character models have also been updated so that they resemble the models from the next two games more closely. Lighting has been improved with the addition of ambient occlusion, detailed shadows and increased draw distances. The audio has also been remastered however I couldn't really pick the changes. I could go on forever with a long list of effects and upgrades, but I'll add the finer details in at the end of this review.

The following two games (Among Thieves and Drake's Deception) didn't really need too much work due to their advanced visuals and game play on their first time around. Although, they have also been given the same amount of attention, which ends up making them exceptional and visually stunning. 

Well, I've told you all about the good stuff, and there's a lot of that to talk about but truth be told, there is some badness still in here. Well badness is probably a bit heavy. I guess there are just some kinks that could have been ironed out that annoyed me the first time through that are still there. The cover system, although it does work quite well most of the time, there have been plenty of moments during heavy firefights where I have attempted to get into cover to only take cover in places that I didn't choose to which eventually gets me killed. This could be partially user error but the sticky cover needed some work. I believe this was perfected in the later game "The Last of Us" where there was no cover button, rather it was context sensitive and automatic. In addition to the cover issue, I have found that ladders in the Among Thieves can be a place of death if you come under fire. I have found no easy way to get off a ladder without either climbing to the top, or dropping a couple of rungs at a time to get to the bottom. Sometimes you just want to drop completely off the ladder to get to cover, but the slow decent makes that sometimes impossible.

The last thing I want to mention that I am not pleased with is the omission of multiplayer for any of the games. I would have been happy if they at least included multiplayer for the third game but instead there is no online multiplayer at all. The only online aspects are with the scoreboards and speed run versions of the game. Although I never spent a lot of time in the multiplayer in the past, I would have like to see one version of it ported across to try out with my friends.

Overall the Nathan Drake Collection is a solid and successful remaster. To date, I would credit this remaster to be one of the best, namely because there has been a great amount of work put to the three games, but also because this just happens to be a personal favourite of mine. If you're a PS4 owner that hasn't ever played these titles before, then the Nathan Drake Collection is a must buy. I don't think any gamer would be able to say that the games are bad or poorly made. Surely the only people that aren't interested in the non-stop action sequences that these games deliver are those that simply just aren't into that type of game. Also, this is a great way to refresh the lore and background to Drake and his cronies before the awaited release of Uncharted 4. I can't wait.

Listed below is what to expect from the updated games including all of their original glory.

Tech/Visual Upgrades
The Bluepoint team has made numerous tech and visual upgrades, including but not entirely limited to:
  • All three games now target 1080p/60Hz
  • Removing screen tearing in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
  • Increased texture resolution and geometry detail
  • Improved environment lighting
  • Improved character models and shaders
  • Improved particle effects
  • Increased draw distance
  • Improvements to shadows
  • Screen space ambient occlusion has been added to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, improved in Uncharted 2 and 3
Gameplay Updates and Unification
The team took more than 65 aspects and improvements from each of the three Uncharted games and applied them across all three titles, unifying the game play experience.

Examples range from:
  • Adding the baseball grenade throw from U2 and U3 to UDF
  • Integrating weapon feel and aiming logic
  • Making Crushing difficulty available to players from the moment they start the game
What’s Brand New
  • Three new game modes
    • Brutal Difficulty: Our most difficult and punishing game play difficulty yet. It is the ultimate challenge, as the gameplay will be more punishing than Crushing Difficulty (unlocked after beating Crushing Difficulty in the same game)
    • Speed Run: Added a timer to track your gameplay time against friends, see your progress against them as they play
    • Explorer Mode: All new easy mode for beginner gamers where combat difficulty is significantly reduced
  • Photo Mode
  • Adjusted existing Trophies, added new Trophies across all three titles 
  • Render mode unlocks and 80 bonus skin unlocks so you can play as Elena, Sully and more
  • Soundtrack remastered from original source material, discrete 7.1 surround sound
  • Exclusive access to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End multiplayer Beta (December 4-13) with purchase
Patch 1.00
A patch will be made available on launch day that will include minor fixes for stability, audio and visual improvements, performance optimizations including tweaks to aiming controls and minor gameplay bug fixes. 

Lucas Aurelius (aka LewkOne) 

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