The Nathan Drake Collection, needless to say, is Drake’s first three adventures remastered for the PS4. I have always yearned to play this franchise, it was one of the few I was unable to play due to only owning a Xbox 360 at the time of their release. This was a great opportunity to play through these entries before playing the highly praised Uncharted 4. Playing through the Last of Us (which is my favorite game ever at this point) and Tomb Raider (360 Version) for sure changed my feelings about the mechanics of these games. This robbed me of the amazing experiences that players felt upon release with state of the art graphics and mechanics. None the less, the adventure was sure one worth taking.
I went in very excited to play these titles. I imagined them as the Tomb Raiders of Sony. A big to my surprise it had a very different feel and the nature of the game was almost completely different. While both franchises do focus on treasure hunting, Tomb Raider had more of a survival feel to it. Uncharted had more of a cartoon like feel, which was escalated by it’s grand set pieces and the countless time Drake and company escape the clutches of death. Enemies who were wearing nothing by wife beaters had bullet proof skin and were easily able to absorb 7-10 shots and never could I depend upon Sully to take down a single one. It was clearly a mistake to start the franchise by playing my first run through of Drake’s Fortune on Brutal difficulty. Unknown to me was that I’d be facing armies that include the entire population Haiti with an aiming reticle that was as accurate as hip fire. Admittedly, this pulled me out of absorbing the story and instead got me frustrated at bullet sponge enemies and cheap deaths. I did enjoy the story for the most part, but I would have enjoyed some more character development or something to make me feel for the characters. The graphics were a a surprise to me with a lot of great colors and location detail. The older animations didn’t translate well, I’m not sure if it was a frame rate issue but Drake looked weird when he moved. I didn’t expect the highest quality in the first game but overall I enjoyed it despite my drive to complete it on Brutal difficulty decreased my overall satisfaction and I was excited to move on to the next game.
Praise the Gods the second game had so many improvements! I cranked that difficulty level down to Normal and combined with improved mechanics, graphics, and story, Uncharted was able to shine and show me what I missed in the previous generation. Combat was improved and I was actually able to predict where Drake would aim out of cover, a noticeable problem in the first game, and some guns actually had sights! Enemies would still shutter oddly when hit with bullets making headshots overly difficult which was something that happened in all three games. It’s like enemies would dab wildly to avoid getting shot and would just awkwardly absorb more bullets as they did their weird movement. The story had made great improvements and I especially liked how the introduction was actually a portion that happens later on in the game. The locations varied a great deal more and the transition between locations felt very fluid and made sense with what was happening. The graphics in this title were great and some of the screenshots I was able to get were amazing (see below)! Location detail was superb and while the render distance showed its age occasionally, I was impressed for a great portion of the game. They added a couple more great set pieces including the portion where you have to advance through a train which was super creative. Enemies seemed to be in no short supply of mini-boss helicopters which but it never made the fight feel saturated. The series really hit it’s stride with this title in making me feel that I was on a crazy adventure which gave it more personality. I was taken aback by the fact that Elena was able to survive a full on frag grenade and it took away any feeling of nervousness that I had pertaining to a possible character death. After said scene, it felt completely adventured base and any plays at some sort of emotion just didn’t really work for me. The game ended with a surprisingly ok boss fight, for it being a covered based shooter, even if the damn guy would never die. Like I stated, loved the adventure and locations in this game and it still had a couple of issues with mechanics and trying to get players emotionally involved.
The third game carried on with the improvements the second game made in terms of location settings and feeling like your in an adventure. The story made greater attempts to attach itself to characters and gave us an opportunity to learn about Drake and Sully more. I loved this effort even if the story felt that it almost made to great of an effort to go to a lot of different locations. Despite the stretches at getting Drake to as many locations as possible, the areas themselves were amazing, detailed, and better looking then a lot of games that are made for the newest consoles. There were more set pieces then the first two games but they were still super enjoyable to play through and it really showed off some of the outstanding visuals that Naughty Dog worked on. Oddly enough, Elena’s character model seemed to be the only thing that looked terrible, especially in comparison to other characters. While the essentials to combat were improved, hand to hand combat as a quick time event wasn’t all that welcomed, especially since the finally fight was a QTE. I was surprised by this point that they hadn’t offered more variety when it came to variance in combat. They made one noticeable effort to try stealth in the chapter where you try to get on the cargo plan, but it still resulted in a huge open combat fight. This title expanded areas horizontally more, rather then just going straight and climbing up something but it’s linear path was still very noticeable. Throughout all the games, sometimes it wasn’t clear which way to go and which ledges were ones you could grab. The portion of this game that took place in the desert was neat because it showed how vast the dessert was and how lost Drake was. It went on for a bit to long though and it seemed to predictable that he would stumble right in to the area he was looking for. This third installment, like the second one, really had a feeling of adventure behind it and actually added some character development I was looking for. The locations and set pieces were amazing but the story really stretched and felt not as put together to get to them.
I’d have to say Uncharted wasn’t the games I expected them to. Thinking that they were similar to Tomb Raider was a mistake even though they have some similarities the feeling you get while playing them is extremely different and so is the story telling. I wasn’t too big of a fan of the combat system which improved nicely throughout the titles but failed to expand beyond massive gun fights. The locations, graphics, and set pieces were some of the biggest highlights and it really captured that Indiana Jones feeling of adventure which I had a great time with. Playing on normal difficultly is probably best so you have more of a fun time with the story and set pieces rather then getting frustrated. This is due to how they increase enemy volume, bullet taking capacity, and accuracy which lessened my enjoyment of the game where as increasing the Last of Us difficulty actually increased enjoyment. Since these games are older (even if they are remastered) I understand the mechanics can’t really be graded against newer games like the Last of Us or else I’d be grading this unfairly. Being partial, Uncharted offers the an adventure experience worthy of many players times and having all 3 games on one disc for a low price is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who has missed out on them. I can’t wait to get my hands on Uncharted 4.