Greatness from small beginnings.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection on PS4
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection could be viewed in one of two ways. First, it could be seen as a sign of how far gaming has come and evolved. And second, a reminder that certain games, no matter how special they are to us, will never hold up as well as we thought they would the first time we played them. All three Uncharted games have been ported beautifully over to the PS4, and it has been such a joy to relive Nathan Drake’s first three adventures again. But boy, these games are definitely starting to show their age.
So what can you expect from Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection? Well, for starters, you get the main campaigns of all three games, excluding the online multiplayer portions from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. As we’ve come to expect in this day and age, all three games now run at 1080p and at a smooth 60 frames per second on the PS4. Naturally, this also means that the gunplay is a lot snappier than it was back on the PS3. You’ll also get to play around with a brand new photo mode, in which you get to pause the game, manipulate camera angles, and take some sweet screenshots. Unfortunately, that’s about all of the new stuff you’ll be getting out of this collection.
As pretty as the collection looks at first glance, as soon as you jump into any of the three games, you’ll start to see that these games, the first Uncharted especially, don’t appear to be as good-looking as you used to think they were. Don’t get me wrong; Bluepoint does a lovely job of porting these games over, but one look and you’ll be able to see the age on some of these character models, especially in Drake’s Fortune. The game isn’t ugly per se, it’s just that you can tell these were originally PS3 games, and none of them – least of all, Drake’s Fortune – can really pass as PS4 games today.
Unfortunately, where this collection falls short is the fact that the gameplay hasn’t been tweaked at all. I had jumped back into Drake’s Fortune with much excitement and anticipation, happy to get back into Nate’s shoes, but I soon realized I’d been viewing this game through rose-tinted glasses. If you asked me a few days ago whether I loved Drake’s Fortune, I would’ve launched into a lengthy monologue, describing to you my love for Nate, Elena, Sully, and all their witty quips throughout the game. Playing through it again this week was essentially a jarring reminder of how painful and grueling this game could get at times.
Drake’s Fortune isn’t an easy game; even when it first launched, it proved to be a real challenge with the endless gauntlets of enemies, drawn out gunfights coming one after another, and a couple of really annoying segments involving speedboats. God, that speedboat segment struck a nerve back then, and it’s still a pain to go through it today. While the increased frame rate does allow for smoother gunplay in this collection, a lot of problems from 2007 still persist today. The cover system just isn’t intuitive, enemies are still insane bullet sponges on normal difficulty, and the platforming mechanics get a little janky here and there.
Another drawback of all three Uncharted games is the lack of variety in its gameplay. Gunfights get a little tiresome as the games funnel you down a linear path with no room for breaks. The few puzzles present in each entry are welcome reprieves from all the killing and shooting, but those often feel too few and far between. There’s never a dull moment in an Uncharted game, but I’d be lying if I said things didn’t get just a tiny bit frustrating from time to time.
The third-person shooter genre has evolved and improved a lot over the past few years; aiming feels more natural and intuitive, and it’s easy to snap in and out of cover whenever you need to, so replaying these older Uncharted games after getting so used to newer titles like Tomb Raider and even The Last of Us hasn’t been the easiest of transitions. However, it must be noted that the terrible Sixaxis motion controls have been completely removed, and the game is now completely playable for normal human beings. Thank you, Naughty Dog.
While Drake’s Fortune served as a solid entry into the life of Nathan Drake, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception really stepped it up in terms of production value and memorable scripted sequences. The opening stage and the falling building sequence in Among Thieves remain as breathtaking as ever, and playing them in gorgeous 1080p only made the experience that much better. While Drake’s Fortune and Among Thieves blew us away with those amazing water and snow in-game physics, Drake’s Deception tried its hand at emulating sand in a video game to stunning results.