Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection - PS4 Review
Naughty Dog (PS3)
Before we start this review proper we would suggest those interested in the finer details about each game spend some time to check out our original reviews as we won't be rehashing many of the finer details. Just bear in mind that many minor issues have been resolved for this PS4 release, multiplayer has been dropped, and there have been plenty of gameplay and visual upgrades, tweaks and even some additions too. In any case, here's our original PS3 reviews of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Some parts of these reviews have been reused where appropriate for this review of the PS4 remasters.
|Nathan and Elena star in Uncharted.|
According to Naughty Dog (in this interview with MVC), around 80% of PS4 owners have never played an Uncharted game. That's a staggering number which means there are millions of current PS4 owners that have never experienced what is undoubtedly one of the best franchises, and what is the closest thing to Indiana Jones in video games. With Uncharted 4: A Thief's End not scheduled for release until March 2016, there is no better time to revisit upgraded versions of the original games.
Nathan Drake’s story began in a fishing boat off the coast of Panama. As Nathan Drake, you’ll follow in the footsteps of legends on a journey that spans the globe. Hunt for El Dorado, the fabled city of gold, using Sir Francis Drake’s own notes. Retrace Marco Polo's doomed voyage through the Himalayas. And reveal the Atlantis of the Sands sought by Lawrence of Arabia.
|Fire effects in Uncharted 3 are superb.|
Without a doubt the three Uncharted games have some of the best storylines seen in any form of media - videogames, print or even film. In fact, any of these games could have starred Indiana Jones and impressed, it's that good. But it's not the storylines that impress the most, but the characters which are among the most believable, likable and entertaining we've ever seen. Naughty Dog have captured some brilliant performances here and it's a joy to watch the cut-scenes - there's no way you'll want to skip them while the level of humour is just perfect to break the mood during tense situations, or just lighten the story.
As most of you would be aware the Uncharted franchise is a third person action adventure game with the ability to switch to first person when aiming an shooting. Controlling Nathan Drake is fast and fluid and as well as using multiple weapons which can be found littered around the level, or indeed from fallen enemies, or grenades to take out groups or toughened foes. There is also plenty of platforming styled action - jumping from ledges, climbing walls - as well as puzzle solving which increases in complexity with each game. Furthermore each of the games has a series of treasures to find within the world which encourages exploration.
|Uncharted's worlds are stunningly realised.|
Rather than just a straight port of the PS3 titles the team behind this PS4 port at Bluepoint Games have actually made some additions and improvements. When it comes to game modes there are two new difficulties - Explorer which allows gamers the easiest path to just enjoy the narrative and is described as "as easy as possible" and Brutal which is a new difficulty described as "as hard as possible"
Perhaps more exciting for most is that the developers have now included a "Speed Run" option where you can play any chapter from any game and set the best time to completion - you can even do it for an entire play through a game for a continuous run. Any times you set can now be compared with your friends to see who can set the best times.
When it comes to gameplay there have been some tweaks to the controls to ensure consistency between all three titles. Throwing grenades in Drake's Fortune in particular is now in line with the two sequels and players no longer need to actually equip a grenade before throwing it, and can now throw from hanging or while in cover. Drake's Deception also benefits from smoother controls and seemingly reduced lag times - it just feels more responsive then the PS3 original.
|This scene on a train in Uncharted 3 is simply amazing, and stressful! |
That's not all however with some more tweaks and changes including much improved load times. In fact, the load times on PS3 were a pretty big issue in the games but there - thanks to the games being installed to the Hard Drive no doubt (and it is a hefty 45GB install), the load times are massively reduced to seconds. Bluepoint have also included some new Trophies specially tailored to the features in the such as Speed Runs, Brutal Difficulty and more. Oh, finally, the developers have added in a Photo mode so you can capture some of the amazing moments and visuals from the game. If you've used the one from The Last Of Us Remastered on PS4, then you know what to expect here. It's superb.
When it comes to missing features certainly the biggest is that of Multiplayer. Perhaps it was a due to time constraints, perhaps it was due to space on the disc - it's a remarkable achievement to get all 3 games on the single disc and even improve their quality - or perhaps it was seen as unnecessary as the bundle is great value. Either way, the multiplayer modes from both Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 aren't included on this release.
|Nathan Drake is a wonderful character.|
While missing out on multiplayer is a disappointment, those that pre-ordered this release, or get in quick enough, will get access to the multiplayer Beta for Uncharted 4 which is schedule to launch on December 4 - which means those hoping to get this release for Christmas will miss out with the Beta only lasting 10 days until December 13. As yet there are no details about what the Beta will include, but it's a pretty exciting prospect nonetheless.
We have to say it's a little disappointing that the PSVita games Uncharted: Golden Abyss isn't a part of this package, nor is the very different turn-based card game Uncharted: Fight for Fortune although we can see where Naughty Dog wanted to focus on the main story ark and not these side-games. Perhaps, hopefully, these can be remastered and released somewhere down the line on PS4 as they are both worth playing.
So now we come to a key selling point to this game, the visuals. In their day the PS3 versions of Uncharted were phenomenal looking titles. Running at 720p each PS3 game set new benchmarks for video games on Sony's platform - and indeed within the entire games industry. For this PlayStation 4 release Bluepoint Games haven't done a simple port and just increased the resolution to 1080p and wiped their hands. No, this is a complete remaster of all three games, but obviously with the original game benefitting most from the upgrades. Not only has the frame rate has shifted from 30fps on the PS3 to a rock steady 60fps, but fortunately this release doesn't suffer frame rate drops like the originals. Perhaps even more importantly all hints of screen tearing have been eliminated across all three titles. Also impressive is that you can now set the game between no motion blur, Object motion blur or Object and Camera motion blur.
|Strangely that is a submarine, in the jungle!|
It's not just the frame rate though with the developers making Nathan Drake, and other characters, look consistent between all three games. Certainly the original game needed a boost here with the original Nathan Drake looking much less refined then in the two sequels. Texturing has also seen a bump up in resolution while objects in the game world are now rendered with a higher level of precision. Further enhancements include improved lighting and shadows, an increase in the amount of foliage in jungle areas and a reduction in compression to the cut-scenes. While it's not quite up there with the best dedicated PS4 titles, it's certainly a vast improvement on the PS3 originals.
Sadly, one loss when it comes to the visuals is support for 3DTV's in the third game, which seems to be a common theme this generation. Given the title runs at an almost locked 60fps, we couldn't have it imagined it would be too hard to supply 30fps to each eye for 3D Glasses however we understand that the developers did have space issues and couldn't fit the 3D cut-scenes on the disc as well as the three games. Perhaps this will be patched at a later date however we wouldn't hold our breath.
|Cut-scenes in Uncharted games are stunning.|
As with every other aspect the audio quality in Uncharted is exceptional. One must first mention that the voice acting here is second to none, with Nolan North playing the role of Nathan Drake absolutely perfectly - he has a likable quality about him, but also a down to earth believability. Other voice actors are also up to the task with Richard McGonagle voicing Sully, Emily Rose voicing Elena Fisher, and, joining in Uncharted 2 is Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer. Not to be outdone the sound effects are fantastic across the board while the music by Greg Edmonson across all three titles is exceptional - and made all the better in this collection with an upgrade to make use of surround sound channels.
One of the greatest things about this franchise when it comes to the audio is the options available and quality. Not only can you set volume levels for SFX, music, Speech and Movies, but also the type of setup from Stereo Headphones, Surround Headphones, Home Theatre, Television and Studio Reference, and then between 2 channel, 5.1 channel or 7.1 channel and then even the type of Center Channel and Dynamic Range in your setup and the even the angle of your speakers. It was groundbreaking in the PS3 days and remains so now as well.
|Nathan and Sully meet for the first time.|
Despite the loss of multiplayer, having three of the best videogames ever developed bundled together leaves Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection as a MUST BUY buy compilation. While the multiplayer is gone, there is certainly enough here to justify the purchase price and unlike many other remastered efforts we would even recommend this release to those who own the original games. The graphical enhancements, gameplay tweaks and new modes makes this more then just a port, but an enhancement to some of the best games of the last generation. Well done Sony, Naughty Dog and especially Bluepoint Games who handled this port. Superb.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Improvements across the board from PS3 versions, with better textures, lighting and now 60fps. 3D has been dropped from Uncharted 3 sadly.||88%|
|SOUND||This series has some of the best dialogue, sound effects and music ever heard in a game. Stunning.||94%|
|GAMEPLAY||Uncharted remains one of the most enjoyable game franchises and it's a pure joy to play yet again.||90%|
|VALUE||Three campaign modes from the trilogy with a 20-30 hour completion, new difficulty modes and Speed Run. All for the price of a single game. Lack of multiplayer disappoints somewhat.||87%|
|OVERALL||Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is an essential purchase for those that never played the PS3 versions, and even worth upgrading to if you did. This is pure entertainment from start to finish.||90%|