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A great way to try out this series if you haven’t already.

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    Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    A great way to try out this series if you haven’t already.

    Okay, so for a review like this, I want to try and review the collection itself and what’s in it, rather than review any of the games extensively. I’ll give a quick rundown of what I think of each game, but I don’t want to get too detailed with any of it. If you’re wondering about a specific game in the collection, I’d recommend seeking out other reviews.

    With that disclaimer out of the way, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a PS4 remastered collection of the first three games in the Uncharted series: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Now, I’m someone that never got around to playing this series when the games first came out on PS3, so an updated collection of the series was right up my alley. I want this to be known as well, because while I know some surface-level things about what’s different in the remastered versions of the games compared to their originals, I’ve never played the original games, so I can’t give you a detailed breakdown of how different these remastered ports are. As a newcomer, I will say that the games look and feel really well, so it does at least feel to me like it belongs on PS4.

    As far as I’m aware, the main differences between the original games and the ones found on this PS4 re-release are the typical things you find in remastered versions of games. It just looks and feels better than it did the first time around. Again, I only have my own experience to go on, but so I’m told at least. In particular, I hear that the first game plays a lot better, because from what I understand the PS3 version originally utilized SIXAXIS motion controls that made combat sections harder, and so now that has been fixed to play like a "normal shooter" in those sections. Additional incentives for people that have already played the original games are that the PS4 versions feature slightly different trophy lists. Comparing them, it seems that the PS4 versions have more trophies revolving around speedrunning than the originals do. Also, the games now feature a Brutal difficulty setting, which is even harder than the previous hardest difficulty for the games, Crushing. So, if you want an extra bit of challenge to the Uncharted games, The Nathan Drake Collection has you covered. However, one potential drawback for some players might be that The Nathan Drake Collection does only feature the single-player campaigns of the games. I’m aware that the campaign is the main draw to the games, but if you were looking to play the online modes at all, they are taken out in this collection.

    With that being said, I’m pretty sure those are all of the main key differences and elements to this collection that you should be aware about before you consider purchasing it. Now, as far as my own overall impressions of the collection, I think it’s pretty good. I personally felt a significant uptick in quality as the games progressed, so in general I felt that each game was better than the last. I’ve always heard that this is one of the best first-party Playstation series, so I’m glad that I at least finally got the chance to experience them. I will say that these kinds of games aren’t typically my cup of tea, as I’m more into games like platformers. So, I’m not particularly knowledgeable in how the game stands out next to its contemporaries, nor do I come at these games with a solid foundation to go off of. I found the games to be pretty difficult at times, but I’m sure for more experienced players they might get through it pretty quickly.

    For the most part, each game follows the same basic formula, for better or worse. In them, you play as Nathan Drake, who is a treasure hunter. The series takes heavy influence from properties like Indiana Jones, and seems to pride itself on being the video game equivalent of adventure movies like that. So, dumbing it down to its most basic bullet points, each game basically features Drake going off on a hunt in search of some legendary artifact, and winds up competing with an enemy that’s also searching for it with the intention of using whatever treasure it is for villainous purposes. It’s a simple formula, and honestly I didn’t really play the games for their story, so it’s not anything exceptional in my eyes.

    I think the reason most people play these games is for their gameplay. The games basically alternate between four types of gameplay. There are sections of climbing, combat, puzzles, and set pieces. For me, the climbing parts are the worst ones. My inexperience with the genre might play into this to some extent, but I found a lot of the climbing sections to be way too "trial and error." I can’t count how many times I would jump to something that seemed like it was something I could grab onto, only to fall to my death. I will take some responsibility for not being good at these kinds of games, but I think to some extent the design is to blame as well. While it’s very easy to tell what can be climbed on in some sections, in others the climbable or grabbable objects blend in with the rest of the environment, making it very difficult to discern where to go to next. These sections just really frustrate me.

    Considering I’m not a big fan of shooters, I was surprised by just how much I enjoy the combat sections of the games. Gunplay has felt equally challenging and fun throughout the entire series, and hand-to-hand combat just got better with each game. While some sections can feel pretty cheap at times (in particular, towards the end of each game), I still felt like things were natural, and so I always looked forward to the combat sections.

    The puzzles are a different story. I would honestly be fine if they removed puzzles entirely from this series. They don’t frustrate me like the climbing sections do, but they just never added anything to the games for me. They range from glaringly easy (literally telling you what to do) to unnecessarily vague (giving you no indication on what you’re supposed to do). While the climbing sections might have frustrated me the most, at least at their best I felt like they were pretty fun. At the puzzles’ best, I was just waiting to get through them.

    The set pieces are the main draw to this series, however. Occasionally, you’ll come across a section of the games where you’re thrown in the middle of some crazy action scene that you have to get yourself out of. I don’t want to spoil any of them, so I’ll only bring up one as an example that I remember being featured heavily in game promotions. In Uncharted 3, there’s a section where you’re on a sinking cruise ship. So, you have to try to escape the ship before it sinks. It’s moments like these where the Uncharted series really shines. These sections are fast paced, thrilling, and put you on the edge of your seat. While I recognize that the entire game can’t be one long set piece, it’s always these sections that I most look forward to in these games.

    While I’ve never cared as much about technical aspects of games, if that’s what you’re looking for then the Uncharted games are very well-designed. The games look very pretty, but keep in mind that these weren’t made for PS4, but rather are just PS3 games that are being upscaled a bit. Considering that, though, I do think that the games look pretty on par with some other PS4 games. The only things that looked weird to me at times were facial animations during cutscenes, but other than that it looks really great. I do have to commend the sound department as well. The music is what shines the most, but the voice acting and sound effects are pretty well-done as well.

    Okay, so I’ll just give my brief impressions on each individual game before wrapping up this review then.

    Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – 7/10
    The first Uncharted game is definitely the weak link of the series. However, what’s more important to me is that Naughty Dog learned from the criticisms of the first game, fine-tuned it a bit, and improved things for the sequels. The thing about the first game isn’t that it’s bad by any means, though. I do still think it’s an entertaining experience. However, everything in it just isn’t as good. The story isn’t anything special, the set pieces aren’t as memorable, and the environments aren’t varied enough (there’s a lot of jungle). I still think it’s a decent game, but it definitely isn’t remarkable.

    Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – 8/10
    Like I said, for Uncharted 2 Naughty Dog was able to take what wasn’t working with the first game and make it better. There are a lot of people that think that Uncharted 2 is the best Uncharted game, and also one of the best games ever made. I disagree with this, but I think the reason people look so fondly on it is just because of how big of an improvement on the first game this really was. While playing it, all I was thinking was how the game made what I liked about the first game even better (such as the set pieces), but the things that frustrated me about the first game still did (such as the climbing). It’s definitely an improvement over the first game, but considering how highly praised it is, I’m going to have to call it overrated. It’s a really fun and great experience, but it didn’t dazzle me as much as it did everyone else. Also, this is the longest of the three games, so I was starting to feel like it overstayed its welcome by the end of it.

    Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – 9/10
    People say that Uncharted 3 was a let-down after 2, but I completely disagree. In my opinion, Uncharted 3 is easily the best of the three games. It was the first of the three games to have a story that I was actually invested in to any extent. Its combat was even better than the second game, which made those sections even more enjoyable. Its set pieces were the best they’ve ever been, featuring my favorite one of the whole series. And everything just flows at just the right pace, so I felt satisfied when I reached the end rather than just being happy it was over when I finished 2. The only reason I can think that 3 isn’t liked as much as 2 is because it didn’t radically improve itself as much as 2 improved 1, but even so I still think there was a clear improvement. If 2 is overrated, then I feel Uncharted 3 is underrated, because it’s the first game in the series that I felt was truly fantastic.

    And so, that’s how Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is in my eyes. I don’t think the series is quiet as amazing as other people think it is, but I definitely enjoyed myself while playing them. I think that if the games had less sections that frustrated me, I’d enjoy them more. However, even so, the games are relatively short experiences, ranging from about 8-12 hours each to beat on a first playthrough, depending on the game and your play style. There’s also collectibles, harder difficulties, and different tweaks to extend game time if you’re interested, but I mainly just wanted to play through them myself. On the surface, it seems like there may be incentives for veteran players of the series to play these games again on this collection, but again I can only go off of my perspective as a newcomer to the series. So, for people like me, I do think that if you’re looking to get into the series, getting this collection is the best way to do it.

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