Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection  Review

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

The Nathan Drake Collection is a Bluepoint remastering project, and as such it is excellent. Well, technically at least: we'll address the content of the games in a moment, but for those of you with an inclination to love Naughty Dog's trilogy no matter what, even if Drake himself had snuck into your house and choked your dad to death before nicking your mum's pearls and calling your dog 'pal', you'll be delighted with how his adventures have been rejigged and upgraded for PS4.

The series was already known for substantive quality leaps between instalments, particularly the first and second, but Bluepoint has worked hard to introduce a consistency across the three, adding certain attack animations (the 'baseball' grenade throw) while tweaking less obvious issues. Drake's Fortune is still by far the worst-looking, but much of that is to do with its samey jungle environments and rigid, right-angled level design. Texture and lighting work upgrades are very good, given the base game: not PS4-level quality, rather flat and pre-baked looking in fact, but, far, far better than before: clean and clear and solidly presented.

Elsewhere, updated character models help no end, and the elimination of screen tearing has a huge impact. While in retrospect you'll no doubt be bored of Drake's Fortune long before you see the credits - it has aged terribly, far more so than the others - that it can even stand side by side with the other games in the collection and not stick out like a sore thumb is testament to the work put in.

Uncharted 2 saw huge improvements, both in visual fidelity and almost everything else, over its predecessor, and Bluepoint builds on that well. The three games' art design and direction always saw them stand out among a sea of 'military grey' shooters, and both the density and diversity of the foliage and other flora found in the Borneo chapters is superb. (Compare and contrast to the vibrant if samey jungle environs in the original Uncharted.) Texture work is again one of the most impressive elements of the upgrade, especially in the 'Urban Warfare' chapter, where you're fighting through the rubble of ruined streets and shattered building facades.

Get close enough and you'll see that it's not quite current-gen level, looking flatter, less dynamic. But this is, of course, the nature of the beast: while the upgrade to 1080p and sterling texture/lighting buffs make the game look better overall, they highlight that Bluepoint are working from old games: there's little to hide behind here. Given how sharp and colourful everything now looks, it's more cartoony than ever, and some characters now look rather like Thunderbirds than real people, but it's a fantastic effort nonetheless.

As expected, Drake's Deception is by far the most modern-looking game, fine-tuning the excellent effects work of Uncharted 2 (that game's hazy, hanging fog is worth mentioning: it's amazing how static Drake's Fortune looks next to the later two). There's the benefit of a strong template to work from, with deft use of lighting both natural and man-made and its strong principal character models. Remasters are balancing acts, and it's been handled well. Put UC3 next to Drake's Fortune and you can see what a great job a) Bluepoint has done bringing the original anywhere near in line with it and b) Naughty Dog did in the original instance.

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Technically then, this is the best version of the Uncharted trilogy you're ever likely to see: an intelligent and well-crafted update, one which also adds in a new mode built around speedrunning, with an onscreen clock and everything, for those who want it. Sadly there's not much that Bluepoint can do to update the core mechanics, some of which are creaking badly, with the shooting in particular being annoying at best and terrible at worst.

Sony has claimed Bluepoint has improved the feel of the shooting across all three games, but it's still poor. Drake's reticule sweeps S L O W L Y, like the hands of a clock, rather than snapping to enemies, even with the sensitivity turned way up. This makes the lack of strong aim-assist maddening, given that you'll want to be in and out of these sections with the minimum of fuss. More galling is the fact that the shooting just isn't any fun, which is rather dispiriting considering there's so much of it.

The combat, although weak, could have been somewhat forgiven if you felt any urge to shoot anyone at all, but there's no drama to proceedings, no tension, no real need for any of it (barring enforced mechanical variety). Drake himself seemingly takes no pleasure in killing, so you have whole sections where he's going 'whoa, easy, don't shoot' before shooting and killing tens of people. Your bullets carry no weight, landing softly on enemies who then botch a cartwheel to their deaths, and your melee attacks feel like Drake is hitting enemies with a wet sock. There is nothing at stake here: a killbox is closed off and you shoot some people, badly, before going on your way.

The platforming elements fare better: never really challenging, but enjoyable all the same, especially when scaling large natural structures. But even these are hamstrung by some insane over-animation (which isn't helped by the leap to 60 frames): Drake can't simply turn, he must pirouette, dashing about in the frame, making for some comical three-point turns, his arms flailing, legs jutting, head wobbling. It all feels so loose: he moves, under even the simplest instruction, like a frog in a fire, a FIFA player model out of time and place.

Odd too, in retrospect, are some of the other climbing sections, especially when they don't take place in the jungle/other appropriate places. Does Drake really need to climb over a bombed-out building when engaged in a street-fight with some baddies because a wooden door is locked? Why doesn't he just throw one of his grenades at the door? The rest of the house is fucked anyway. The answer, of course, is because it's a closed set, and there's not much to actually do in these games but climb and shoot, no matter how strange it seems to do so. At its best, the series hides this superbly. At worst, its obvious you're an actor on a stage. Don't get me started on the Young Drake section near the beginning of Uncharted 3.

Time has not been kind to Uncharted, then, but the latter two games are still enjoyable, despite their many flaws. The obvious influence of Saturday serials of the 50s (and the films which were inspired by them from the 80s) is interpreted well, dragging players through to the next big set-piece, and while he is a serial killer and mad war/conflict profiteer, Drake is also a somewhat charismatic shit-eating grin of a man, as are his friends. It's like an ultraviolent travel show, presented by three or four people who seem to be having a great time. It's just a shame the player has to slog through so much nonsense to join them.

Note: if you're just here for an appraisal of the remaster, feel free to make yourself feel better and add two points to the score.

7 / 10

  • Has some excellent set-pieces
  • Superb remastering job
  • Shooting is still terrible
  • Drake is over-animated

Click above for enlarged Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Screenshots

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User Comments

CaptPierce's Avatar

CaptPierce@ BalloonMan

Loooooooooooool you really think Tomb Raider aged that well? I've been playing TR since the original and they have NEVER held up at all. Even when the series jumped to the PS2 for the first time, they started to show their age. It's so pathetic to see how badly people want to jump and compare the two even though Uncharted has been shown to be leaps and bounds ahead of it in every conceivable way while Tomb Raider stayed being a relic of the past. The platforming in TR felt painfully stiff and dated even for its time and Uncharted has always been the stronger one in that aspect. By the time Uncharted 2 came out, it was clear that Uncharted left Tomb Raider in the dust, and TR had to reboot TWICE in order to compete, because Lara as a character was nothing more than an object to be perved at from day one no matter how they dressed her up until the new game and they had to ironically copy their competitors in the process. As good as the new reboot is, the hype and acclaim that Uncharted has is well earned for a reason, because the games have been clearly better for nearly a decade. Don't let the nostalgia fool you into believing those were really better games.
Posted 16:55 on 26 October 2015
CaptPierce's Avatar

CaptPierce

@BalloonMan Loooooooooooool you really think Tomb Raider aged that well? I've been playing TR since the original and they have NEVER held up at all. Even when the series jumped to the PS2 for the first time, they started to show their age. It's so pathetic to see how badly people want to jump and compare the two even though Uncharted has been shown to be leaps and bounds ahead of it in every conceivable way. The platforming in TR felt painfully stiff and dated even for its time and Uncharted has always been the stronger one in that aspect. By the time Uncharted 2 came out, it was clear that Uncharted left Tomb Raider in the dust, and TR had to reboot TWICE in order to compete, because Lara as a character was nothing more than an object to be perved at from day one no matter how they dressed her up until the new game. Don't let the nostalgia fool you into believing those were really better games.
Posted 16:55 on 26 October 2015

Neon-Soldier32@ booflax

I posted the antiquated thing, referring to what Burns said. I haven't played it, nor the demo, so I have no opinion on the collection.

Not all old things stand the test of time. Just because some of the Mario games have, it doesn't mean everything else does. I mean, both Mario 64 and Goldeneye were on the 64, but only one is playable today.

I'm ambivalent to Burns and his YouTube personality is different to what he's actually like, but that's beside the point.
Posted 07:31 on 09 October 2015
booflax's Avatar

booflax@ Neon-Soldier32

"It's disappointing that the games have ages but alas the clock on the wall makes fun of us all, even games. A shame though that the games do seem antiquated, there's nothing much to be done about that. "

Jesus christ, how can a 6 year old game be "antiquated". It was revered as one of the best games of all time in 2009 and now it's just alright? Are games really on that short of a timer? Of course not, Super Mario Brothers 3 was amazing back then and it's amazing now. Super Mario 64 was really fun back then and it's really fun now. Conkers Bad Fur Day was incredible back then and it's incredible now. Mega Man 2 on NES was a blast to play back then and it's a blast to play now.

For Uncharted to be "antiquated" (such a ridiculous word for such a young game) then a game would have to surpass them in their genre. The only prominent game that could compete is Tomb Raider (Remake). While a great game, it can't even come close to competing with Uncharted 2 & 3.

But my real problem here is you sheep that just suck up Burns opinion like "oh well guess they're outdated LOL" without taking into consideration the more popular opinion on Metacritic that "These games are must play masterpieces". Just because one man says the Mona Lisa is overrated garbage doesn't change it's legacy, impact, and quality.
Posted 06:39 on 09 October 2015
Njeezy's Avatar

Njeezy@ manamana

By that reasoning every review of anything that has the lowest score is purely clickbait. If you know you'll like a game, why bother reading an opinion that you disagree with?
Posted 07:39 on 02 October 2015
manamana's Avatar

manamana@ Njeezy

Well, if the (by far) worst score on metacritic isn't clickbait enough for you ...
Even Jim showed more love ...
Posted 22:01 on 01 October 2015
manamana's Avatar

manamana

Clickbait crap. I do feel sorry for you.
Posted 21:59 on 01 October 2015

DASHONFIRE

Is it just me that is finding the backlash (especially on N4G) absolutely hilarious? Who gives a crap if Burns gave it a 7? Surely people already knew whether or not they were going to buy this and the only thing that would put them off is if the remaster was dog *****? (which if you read the review, it's not).

I love the Uncharted games and was going to buy this to play though with my flatmates. People get themselves so worked up about a score, it's hysterical.
Posted 13:36 on 01 October 2015
Njeezy's Avatar

Njeezy@ bengalsfan819

Both the reviews you mention were reviewed by different people with their own opinions.

Miller's review of Gears of War UE was a review by a Gears Super-fan (patent pending), and as such could have been a 7 when reviewed by someone else.

This is the point that Burns makes with this quote: "if you're just here for an appraisal of the remaster, feel free to make yourself feel better and add two points to the score..."

Also clickbait usually relies on a contentious or inflammatory title. "Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review" is neither of these things.

But believe what you want to believe, it's a free world. (mostly)
Posted 13:19 on 01 October 2015
BalloonMan's Avatar

BalloonMan

I'm not a huge fan of the Uncharted series. I am a huge fan of the Tomb Raider series, and have loved all 3 generations of the TR games, even though as the visuals and cinematic aspects have gotten better over the years, the puzzles and platforming have been dumbed down. The Uncharted games have always been been something similar, but inferior, to play while waiting for the next Tomb Raider game. With Drake's Fortune in 2007 I was waiting for Underworld in 2008, which was flawed, but still better. Then the next two Uncharted games held me over until the new 2013 Tomb Raider was released.
The Uncharted games are more about shooting, which bores me. The puzzles are almost nonexistent, and the platforming and climbing is pretty much on a rail.
But for some reason I've always found the Uncharted games fun and I've always looked forward to the next. I was upset when #4 was pushed back. They are often more like interactive movies than games. But when you compare them to something like Until Dawn, which is almost not a game at all, but also pretty fun, the Uncharted series are much more game-like. But they are more about the story and the characters and the adventure. I've hosted a few gatherings to show people how good #2 and #3 looked. Everybody loved them, just watching them. After taking turns playing they realized they were a little more scripted and dumbed down than they originally though, but they still loved playing them and watching them.
This somewhat negative review reminds me a lot of what I think of the games, but when I hear somebody else say it, it sort of upsets me. Yeah, I grumbled a lot while playing these games, but I also enjoyed them. I gave away my old copies and feel like I might want to do them all again before playing the new one. They aren't perfect and they might not be for hard-core gamers, but if you like a good story and a cinematic quality, they are entertaining and worth playing. Even at full price the three of them are not much more than three iMax movies, and you'll probably get more enjoyment out of them. There are dull and tedious parts, but there are some great scenes and chapters that will stick with you a long time.
7 out of 10 is actually a good score. It isn't a 70% "C" as if everything below 5 is failing. Even a 6 is usually "liked it" on a 10-point scale. So I don't know why they whined so much. 7 seems fitting as an overall score, right between "liked it" and "really liked it." They're linear and scripted and made for mass appeal, but they look good and they are fun.
Posted 11:55 on 01 October 2015
ps44life's Avatar

ps44life

oh well, sounds bad preorder canceled getting something else
Posted 04:58 on 01 October 2015

Luci_87

I never have, and never will, get the massive appeal of The Uncharted games. Always found them kinda of entertaining for a few hours but they always got boring to me around half way through. Never even finished number 2.

If Naughty Dog dropped Uncharted 4 and announced a current gen Jak and Daxter game instead, I'd be a happy man.
Posted 23:36 on 30 September 2015
IKNOWBEST's Avatar

IKNOWBEST

AMAZING
Every game in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection has aged well, thanks to an excellent visual remaster.
Posted 23:33 on 30 September 2015
Ghost_Dog's Avatar

Ghost_Dog

Three of my favorite games from last gen, with Uncharted 2 being in my all-time top five.

For what it's worth, I would rate the original games as follows;
Uncharted - 9/10
Uncharted 2 - 10/10
Uncharted 3 - 9/10 (I actually think this one is underrated)

Cant wait to re-play these again. Not going to comment on the review, as it seems that Bluepoint have done another top-notch remastering job and that's all that matters.
Posted 22:57 on 30 September 2015

skidoosh

Just had a blast on the demo. Drake is over animated. The shooting is still shocking even with aim assist. And the reload on an R button feels as wrong as Garry Glitter.

Excited for it now though!
Posted 21:24 on 30 September 2015

Game Stats

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
7
Out of 10
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
  • Has some excellent set-pieces
  • Superb remastering job
  • Shooting is still terrible
  • Drake is over-animated
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 09/10/2015
Platform: PS4
Developer: Bluepoint Games
Publisher: SCEE
Genre: Action
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 804 89
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