Monday 5 December 2016

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection review – The maestro of adventure remastered

Published 07/10/2015 | 19:33

Nathan Drake is as deadly as he is charming: very
Nathan Drake is as deadly as he is charming: very

Every console needs a hero, a totem to rally fans around and use as a focal point of pride. As the Xbox 360 had the master chief, so too the PS3 had Nathan Drake.

9/10; Playstation 4; Naughty Dog (BluePoint Games)

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It’s fitting that almost a year after Microsoft released the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Sony’s star should get his turn in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection.

In the box you get the original three adventures: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune; Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

Each title has been remastered by Bluepoint Games, who had form with such sacred tasks after successfully delivering revamped versions of God of War, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

Booting up the collection is like walking in to a local bar after years of being away. The stories sound familiar, the walls have had a new lick of paint and it soon forces a smile at remembered good times. 

Naughty Dog’s now renowned respect for narrative and character development shines from the very beginning of Drake’s Fortune. Nate still has the roguish charm to make him instantly likeable and the effort is extended to the majority of main characters. Each game sets up a story that's easy to get engrossed in and ultimately feel satisfied by.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection - Bet somebody wishes he went for the fireproof model
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection - Bet somebody wishes he went for the fireproof model

Bluepoint have done an excellent job making the graphics suitably impressive, at least initially. New textures and lighting effects make an eight-year-old game shine again. There’s a comparative wow factor at first, but it soon begins to fade, limited by the foundation Bluepoint had to build on.

 

Of the three games, only Drake’s Fortune actually feels like an obvious remaster. There are points where the new textures look great, worthy of a photograph, but around the next corner is a dated particle effect or design decision forced by graphical limitations. Of course, the good news is the other two games look great throughout.

Uncharted 2 was a major progression at its time of release and has taken nicely to the new graphics. As a near-unanimous game of the year winner, Among Thieves’ class still shines through. Both Uncharted 2 and 3 get very close to feeling like native PS4 games and only rare moments of flat textures remind you of the truth.

Bluepoint have made the three games feel like a genuine collection. Combat is more consistent over the trilogy and new animations give the feel that you’re playing with the same character throughout. The bump up to 60fps across the board is a noticeable improvement, adding to the fluidity of affairs.

To add a little spice to the mix, three new modes have been included. Speed Run sets up a timer for certain parts of the game, allowing you to scramble with a purpose across familiar levels. Explorer mode is for players focused on the platforming and story elements, easing off on the combat that can admittedly feel like a chore at times. Finally there’s the addition of Brutal Difficulty mode, providing an extra challenge for players who think they’ve conquered all before.

Additional features include new trophies and a photo mode to capture all those fancy new graphics. Multiplayer modes have been stripped out, but it's a case of good riddance.

While the three new modes certainly allow for a replay without the exact same experience, there’s the slight niggling that there could have been more included. The collection updates the feel of the three games and little more. There’s no ‘making of’ style content or additional service for fans. With Uncharted 4 marking the final game centred on Nathan Drake as a protagonist, chances are the reverential ultimate Uncharted bundle will span the treasure hunters whole career, while this collection is merely bringing PS4 owners up to date on his adventures.

Uncharted 4 will be Nate Drake's final outing. There's no beating those pure PS4 graphics
Uncharted 4 will be Nate Drake's final outing. There's no beating those pure PS4 graphics

Seems odd to release “The Nathan Drake Collection” while the old boy still has one run in him.

In a time when binge-watching and box-sets rule the roost, it’s good to be able to do the same with games of this quality. This collection allows you to kick back with an old reliable friend that’s not Tony Soprano for once and not feel cheated. The stories are still strong, the set pieces still impressive and the experience enjoyable.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection gives a new lease of life to three great games. For big fans and those who have never been dazzled by Drake’s cheeky smile, it’s surely a must-buy. For veterans looking for something more, the €74.99 asking price may be too much for a cosmetic makeover, but the collection will still bring at least a smile. You’ve definitely never seen the old boy look so good.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is available on PS4 on 9th October 2015

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