Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection acts as one of the most meaningful history lessons in recent gaming. The series’ top notch storytelling, art direction, and excellent gameplay, are all preserved and presented superbly, along with a welcome upgrade to 60 frames per second. Bluepoint has done a fantastic job remastering the trilogy, as the environments look better than ever and the moment-to-moment gameplay shines with the collection’s technical refinements. While The Nathan Drake Collection is hands down the best way to experience Naughty Dog’s action adventure trilogy, I would have loved to see more extras incorporated to complement the simple packaging of one of the medium’s most prized franchises.The now eight year old, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, begins the adventure, kicking off the series with an emphasis on platforming, gunplay, and exploration, helmed by the witty Nathan Drake. While Drake’s Fortune has aged poorly in comparison to its successors, Naughty Dog’s series’ debut carries with it a sense of magic. Each environment is meticulously crafted to traverse, explore, and engage with combat in, rivaling the best of level design in its select genre, even by today’s standards. It’s clear Naughty Dog was stilling trying to fine-tune what pacing to run with, as the swift momentum of the narrative outshines the prolonged nature of its gameplay. Clunky handling can also make Drake’s Fortune feel like a chore, especially on the game’s harder difficulties. However, what it ultimately accomplishes in the end makes it sticking its out the more tedious moments worth it, chiefly for newcomers to the series.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on the other hand, firmly secures its place as one of the greatest games of all time, improving on its predecessor in every way imaginable. The remaster treatment brings the highs of the PS3 version to another level, with the memorable locales of Among Thieves, such as the Himalayas, and urban ruins of Nepal fully achieving a tangible sense of place. Naughty Dog’s initial attention to detail when crafting Among Thieves is given the full recognition it deserves with the remaster, as Bluepoint has made even the smallest of details shine. Nevertheless, even with the remaster’s great visual enhancements, Among Thieves most praiseworthy trait remains its masterful pacing. From its captivating opening, to endearing close, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves makes the most of its character, set pieces, and narrative beats. Simply put, there’s never a dull moment.The same can be said for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Naughty Dog’s most recent installment in the series, and easily the most narratively ambitious of the bunch. Drake’s Deception is the deepest of the trilogy, in terms of both gameplay and storytelling. Uncharted’s characterization excels within the third chapter, with effective flashbacks and brilliant banter between its magnificent cast. Aside from grounding Nate’s past and personal relationships in meaningful and effective ways, Drake’s Deception strikes a perfect balance of gameplay as well. Few games exude as much confidence, personality, and infectious involvement as Uncharted’s third installment.
What’s new to The Nathan Drake Collection is sparse, and the lack of extras acts as the collection’s biggest shortcoming. Aside from a new “Speed Run” mode, which is nothing more than an escalating timer in the corner, and a new “Brutal Mode” which simply ramps of the difficulty, there’s a surprising shortage of extras in addition to each base game. An absence of concept art, character bios, developer interviews, and more, feels like a missed opportunity for Sony’s flagship series. Multiplayer has also been removed from the title, meaning there’s not much incentive to return to the collection once completing all three games, unless looking to stack up trophies. While the lack of extras may seem like a misstep and the removal of multiplayer may turn some away, the overall quality of the collection can’t be denied. All three games look excellent, even compared to many PlayStation 4 games, with the most recent two looking especially great. The remaster also tweaks a few control issues that had previously proven frustrating throughout the series, for each moment of the collection controls like a charm, with the exception of the original’s more inconsistent parts.Conclusion: The Uncharted series is best summed up by the inscription on Drake’s ring which reads: “greatness from small beginnings.” That greatness formed, evolved, and adapted within the jungle of the original and set lofty standards with the two magnificent sequels that followed. It’s greatness that will transcend to what lies ahead for the series and The Nathan Drake Collection makes that very clear. Despite Drake’s Fortune’s occasional sign of age, as a whole, these games have stood the test of time remarkably well. The collection is a captivating history lesson of Naughty Dog’s evolution as storytellers, with each game encapsulating some of the best characters, set pieces, and pacing the medium has ever seen. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a brilliant refresher to why I play video games, and whether you’ve played the games before or not, this collection should absolutely be in your library.
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