Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is pure bliss. Going on adventures and dangerous expeditions as the charming Nathan Drake is some of the best fun you’ll have playing a game.
Originally developed by Naughty Dog, and with Bluepoint Games handling this HD port, the Uncharted games — Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception — are some of the most important and exhilarating action-adventure titles released this past decade. You can play them on a PlayStation 4 now. When I booted the collection for the first time, and the series’ main theme began playing, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.
The likable characters, focused stories, terrific action set pieces, and exceptional level designs are the reasons why the Uncharted series is one of my favorites. Surprisingly, all three games have aged well. Everything feels and looks just as good as they did all those years ago. This is a sumptuous collection and the best way to expose newcomers to one of PlayStation’s most popular series. And for those who’ve played all three games before, the visual upgrades and the anticipation of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End are good enough reasons to revisit the franchise.
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When playing all three games in order, it’s easy to notice the first entry’s (Drake’s Fortune) age and flaws. It’s apparent that Naughty Dog was still learning the PlayStation 3’s hardware and growing as a studio. But this doesn’t mean that Drake’s Fortune is a bad game. It still holds up. It contains clever platforming and puzzles. Some of its set pieces are still enjoyable, and the gunplay feels solid. Sure, it’s definitely the weakest out of the bunch, but it still plays better than most third-person action-adventure games out there.
Both Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception are Naughty Dog at its best. Some standout set pieces, such as the long train ride and helicopter chase scene in Among Thieves and the sinking cruise ship and airplane ride in Drake’s Deception, are some of the best video game moments you’ll ever play. It’s high-octane, thrilling action. Pretty much every single gameplay mechanic introduced in Drake’s Fortune is massively improved on in the latter two games. Shooting feels more refined and solid thanks to better aiming; and the same rings true when its comes to getting around, as you’ll be climbing more ambitious and bigger structures and obstacles.
Hand-to-hand combat is also massively improved, especially in the third game. Drake will react to his surroundings while punching people in the face as he’ll often throw them on tables, desks, chairs, and much more. The puzzles also add a much-needed change of pace. Both games slow down at just the right moments, forcing the player to think in order to solve a ton of breathtaking visual riddles. You often really do feel like Indiana Jones himself, only Drake might actually be a bit more funny.
Series still looks stunning
Above: Care for a swim?
Image Credit: Sony
All three games were absolutely gorgeous for their time. Drake’s Fortune in 2007 was really the first game to showcase PlayStation 3’s horsepower. Two years later, Among Thieves was even prettier. In 2011, Drake’s Deception continued this superb visual trend. But the latest game in the series came out four years ago, and old games are never as pretty as you remembered them to be, right? Right?
Well, Bluepoint Games has done an exceptional job refreshing all three games. The full 1080p HD visuals and 60 frames-per-second video make the trilogy look just as beautiful as a good chunk of the games being released today. Yeah, that’s right — 6-year-old Among Thieves and 4-year-old Drake’s Deception really do look like native PS4 games. Even 8-year-old Drake’s Fortune shrugs off its age. The gorgeous and varied environments, character models, and art direction also help a great deal as Naughty Dog really managed to deliver a stunning trilogy in the first place.
Uncharted’s wonderful cast of characters and interesting story beats are intact, as you’d expect. While the series never really delivers a poignant and touching story like, say, the way Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us does, the witty writing, fantastic character arcs, and the constant sense of adventure make for some memorable story moments. Even after playing through all three games dozens of times, I still found myself sitting through all of the cutscenes and giggling at the sharp quips the characters yell at each other. It’s all just so damn enjoyable.
What you won’t like
The one flaw I’ve with this collection is the total lack of multiplayer. Both Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception had refreshing and addicting online components. Including Drake’s Deception’s multiplayer as part of this collection would’ve really made it an even more appealing purchase, especially for those who’ve already played the entire series before. Plus, this collection is the only big PS4 exclusive releasing this holiday season.
A playable online mode would’ve been a great way to remind folks that this series doesn’t only deliver exceptional single-player experiences. The beta test access for A Thief’s End that comes with every purchase of The Nathan Drake Collection isn’t really a good substitution, as it’s only going be available in December and will only last for a limited time as well. It’s a strange decision.
Above: You tell him Sully!
Image Credit: Sony
All three Uncharted games are must-plays, and Bluepoint Games has done an exceptional job porting the trilogy over on PlayStation 4 with The Nathan Drake Collection. The 1080p HD visuals and 60 frames-per-second add a fresh coat of paint that make all three entries look and feel relatively ageless. The set pieces are as thrilling as ever, and the characters are still charming and well written. But the lack of a multiplayer component is one strange and noticeable decision.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is now available for PlayStation 4. Sony provided GamesBeat with a review copy of the game for the purposes of this review.