Review: Uncharted The Nathan Drake Collection

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection was released in 2015 for the PS4 and contains the first three Uncharted games in their remastered versions. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception all stand as crowning achievements for developer Naughty Dog, and this collection is one of the most fun must-have games (collection) for a new-gen console gamer. The story of this trilogy stars Nathan Drake, Sully, and Elena as they hunt for treasure, discover lost cities, climb an unbelievable amount of walls, and shoot their way through danger… and have a lot of fun doing it! This review will contain abbreviated and updated versions of my previous reviews, as well as my thoughts on the collection as a whole! Enjoy…

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Nathan Drake is an explorer (treasure hunter) who is seeking clues for the treasure that his ancestor had discovered. Alongside him is his friend Sullivan, and somebody he hired for resources and to film the expedition, Elena. And then there’s a villain, of course, who is after the same treasure. The story is pretty paint-by-numbers with them racing to the treasure- watch National Treasure again if you need a refresher. The characters were definitely a strength in the game: the performances by the voice actors as well as the dialogue written for them did a great job of fleshing out the character and breathing life into them. While we don’t know or care much about the background of the characters, they work in the game because they are fun.

As this is a remastered version of a 9-year-old game, I expected to run into some clunky and awkward controls as times… and boy did I. Overall, the game played very well as far as shooting mechanics went, as it didn’t take me very long at all to get the controls down, I mentioned to my friend that the gameplay reminded me of The Bourne Conspiracy or Quantum of Solace as they were both TPS stealth/cover-based shooters, and they do play a lot alike, but this one preceded them, and credit must be given where it’s due. There wasn’t much ability to use stealth in the game, even though there was a cover system; no silenced guns and no ability to sneak past people. This is definitely more of a run-and-gun game than the other two.

This is a game in which you are supposed to take cover, and meticulously pick off your enemies one-by-one. When I do that while running around, and try to duck while running, the game will throw me against a wall thinking that I wanted to take cover (or it will hang me on a ledge in the middle of a firefight)… and sometimes, that wall will be directly in their line of fire. Of course, that’s not where I wanted to be, but the button for duck and cover have the same control, and so I end up prancing around the map looking like a mentally handicapped rabbit.

That being said, I would consider this game to be very fast-paced, if I think about the story and gameplay together: I played through the game quickly because the chapters flowed together extremely well. The game felt like a movie with me at the controls, and that was a lot of fun. And for the amount of fun that this game was, I must applaud it. For the most part, the controls were easy to learn and play, and I didn’t really have too many issues with the controls at all. I only had 2 instances in game in which I got frustrated because I couldn’t get the game to do what I wanted, and that was on the chapter in which you’re on the jetski, and the last chapter in which you have to spend most of the level in cover, trying to fight the “boss.” The game didn’t lag or glitch, and I played through the campaign in about 6 hours total (moving pretty fast). The graphics were good in-game, but in cutscenes, some of the characters looked block-y and like clay- however, this game being a remastered version of a 2007 game, I cannot complain… not ever remastered version can look like Halo 2‘s cutscenes.

Overall, I’d say that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was a lot of fun to get into. I think I learned more about myself as a gamer, and about the gamer I need to be while playing this series in order to play efficiently and effectively. The gameplay was great, the graphics looked beautiful in-game, and the characters were fun which made up for the mediocre story and… villain? I already forgot that there was one. I’m going to give this game a 7+/10 and a green recommendation. My score is based on my experience alone (this score would be different for every gamer based on their style of gaming).

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Never had a game wowed me as much as this one- at least not a game that isn’t an open world sandbox game- in just about every aspect of gameplay. I loved Drake’s Fortune, but it was very straightforward and very simple- I had fun, but all of my struggles were easily overcome. This game was extremely challenging and frustrating at times, and I debated with myself whether I wanted to give this a gold or a green rating- and I realized that I would be ashamed of myself if I gave this a green rating, because the reason would be that the game was too “difficult” at times, but what’s a game that doesn’t get you stuck now and then?

I hear a lot about people wanting an Uncharted movie, and while it might be cool, I think it would be disappointing no matter what; there’s no way any movie that a studio puts out would be better than the experience one gets when playing this game. The set pieces, cut scenes, sequences, and characters are already cinematic and gorgeous, and any adaptation that these aspects would have to film would be nothing besides a let down. There were many times in this game where my jaw dropped and I was just flat-out amazed by what I was seeing: I knew nothing going in about what to expect so I’m going to say nothing here, but just know that if you play this game, you will be awe-struck by the scenes and set pieces. Honestly, no game has wowed me as much as this game- and this game did that 10 times over.

In the first mission, you get betrayed by somebody who leaves you for dead, and this reveal was something I saw from a mile away. I thought I knew how the rest of the game would play out since I could get the first chapter’s ending… nope. This game is extremely unpredictable and it kept me on my toes, and kept me guessing until the very last scene- which made me tear up. Part of the reason why the story works so well is because the characters are astounding- I mean the way they’re animated, written and performed just drew me in immediately, and the way they play off of each other was beyond entertaining. I laughed out loud at Nathan’s quips at least a dozen times, and they were usually in response to Elena or Chloe, both of whom he works very well with as a jokester. The villain was one problem that I had with the first game, because you don’t even know who the villain is throughout, and then the villain switches to a new guy in the very last scene, which made them both extremely forgettable and weak as can be. This was not the case here. The first time we meet the bad guy in this game, I thought he was just a henchmen. In fact, I didn’t know who he really was until closer to the end, and while that’s a fault of the storytelling, his presence in the game is always a threat to our hero. Not only does he pose a physical threat to Nathan, but he is also after the “treasure” and often threatens, intimidates or stops us from progressing. He does a lot of damage, along with his army, and he is HARD to beat in the penultimate battle of the game. Talk about frustrating.

Another aspect of this game that was a vast improvement was the controls. Swift, fluid, and more natural, the shooting in this game was much easier to do- even if the opponents were much harder to kill with headshots than in the first game. In fact, the first game was much easier all around. Here, the firefights were very hard at times, and the puzzles actually took some thought as opposed to the straight-forward and obvious ones in the first game, in which I never got stuck once. In this game, I got stuck an embarrassing number of times and died so many more; this game made me look like a terrible gamer, which made playing very disheartening at times, but motivating to finish it without feeling like I sucked too much. Sometimes, the game would glitch or I would run into problems with the cover/hanging mechanics, but never enough trouble to warrant an actual complaint. This game, though, was a lot easier for me to play (although harder to beat) as the controls were much better- and I loved how stealth was a much more prominent aspect as I wasn’t a fan of how little it was in the first game, even though stealth still wasn’t perfected, making this game about as much of a run-and-gun as the first.

There’s really nothing that I wouldn’t praise about the game: the characters were hilarious and interesting, the action and set pieces were unbelievable and awe-inspiring, the story was unpredictable and enthralling, and the graphics were mesmerizing and the gameplay a blast… I laughed a lot and teared up at the end, and that’s unprecedented for a game for me. I have to give Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (remastered edition) a gold recommendation, and a 9+/10 overall- the only game I have rated gold so far (out of two games…). I can’t wait to play the third and fourth, and maybe this one again because it was just so much fun. Like watching a movie, but with you at the controls, this game is going to be a classic- one for the ages.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was released in 2011 for the PlayStation 3, and re-released in the remastered Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection in 2015 for the PS4 along with its two predecessors. I waited about two weeks after playing Uncharted 2 before jumping into this, because I knew to manage my expectations… and because it was the holidays and I didn’t have time to play this thing all the way through. Even though I tried to keep my expectations lower than they would have been, I still have mixed feelings about this game as a whole. Of course, there are many improvements featured in this game that outshine the first two games, but all in all, this game falls way short of the second game in the collection.

The story in this game is honestly more of the same: there’s a secret coveted item or place and we have to find it before the villain does, it’s a story we expect to see in Uncharted games, which is totally fine, but I didn’t think this game added much, which is the big drawback for me. First, let’s talk about the positives: the game looks gorgeous. This is by far the most aesthetically pleasing game in the saga thus far, and that’s not just saying a lot about the remastered graphics, but also the artwork on screen is so nice to look at. It was chapter 18 that had me take a picture of the screen and send it to my friends with the caption “wow,” just admiring the look of the game. All of the following chapters, which take place in the desert as seen on the cover and poster, look just as impressive, and I was awe-struck just seeing what was on screen. Another aspect that was vastly improved was the fluidity of the controls and movements. It was very easy to maneuver and traverse and I never had any real problems with glitching or anything as I did occasionally in the first two games. The gun control felt good, although it was harder to pop off headshots than it was in the previous games, partially because the “crosshairs” look different, and seem to block part of my targets which annoyed me slightly.

Another aspect that the first didn’t have at all, and the second toyed around with a bit, was stealth. This game vastly improved the stealth missions and allowed me to take out enemies silently, even with a silenced pistol this time! In the last two games, I’d always have to go in guns blazing, but the AI is slightly more able to understand that they can’t see you when you’re hiding, which made killing more fun. Furthermore, this game takes the highly cinematic elements from the second game and delivers some that almost rival those. That being said, the game doesn’t really pick up or get interesting until the 5th chapter, which made the introduction kind of a chore to get through but it finally kicked into high gear with a great set piece in a collapsing, burning building. In the second game, there are about 10 amazing sequences, and there are about 5 or so in this game, but they’re just as fun to play in. Speaking of fun, this game had a lot, and I don’t want to undervalue the excitement just because I’m going to be focusing on some negative aspects for the rest of the review. This is a really good- in fact, great– game, and I’m only going to be saying a lot of negative things because all of the good aspects of this game can be found in the Uncharted 2.

There are a lot of things in this game that don’t live up to the second, and the main thing is originality. This story felt so much like the last game, especially at the end, that I felt as though I’d already played it before. In the game, we’re searching for a lost city (just like the second), and it’s a race to there against the antagonist (just like the second), and I won’t tell you how it ends, but it felt very much recycled as well. I mean, it’s almost the exact same ending, minus the emotional slap in the face and the boss battle. Yeah, there’s no boss battle in this game, just henchmen-killing the entire time, and not even as fun as it was in the last game; I felt like I was simply playing through the motions. There are some henchmen that are larger than others, and I was always forced to fight them hand-to-hand and couldn’t kill them with bullets. This annoyed me for three reasons: a) they should’ve died when I shot them, but b) I’m forced to get into a fight with them, sometimes in the middle of trying to kill other people, and c) fighting them is just button-mashing with no skill, strategy or anything required. The guy walks up to you, you mash square until the game tells you to press triangle, and then repeat those steps until he’s unconscious. It’s a tedious and annoying trap, no doubt. Another thing that I thought was missing was the ability to sprint because running away from spiders and people sometimes was impossible, and it proved to be quite a challenge.

That being said, those instances were really the only times in the game that I felt challenged at all. I played this game on the same difficulty setting as the last two; the first one was easy, and the second one kicked my ass. This game was easy again, and I missed having the challenge even though it was very frustrating at times in 2. The puzzles in this game were also very simple, and I had no trouble breezing through them every time, whereas the second game (I’m going to keep drawing comparisons) had hard puzzles. The last aspect that didn’t live up to the predecessor was the characterization of the lead, and his relationships with his friends. Yes, this game focuses on Nate and Sully’s relationship first and foremost, but his relationship with Elena was the best part of the last two games, and actually got me to shed a tear at the end of the second. In that game, I laughed a lot at Nate’s jokes and really dug his character. In this game, he wasn’t nearly as fun or funny, and he just felt like he did in the first game again; this, of course, is far from being a bad thing, but I just feel like we took a few steps backward here.

I guess, if I were to find a silver lining here, I’d say that this game took the franchise back to its roots, but with set pieces reminiscent of the second game. But seriously, though, this game is a blast on its own, and only when drawing comparisons between it and the second (which set an impossible bar to beat), does it fail. One thing that I liked more about this game was that it maintained to be more “realistic” in the fact that it didn’t have zombies or strangely evolved beasts. In this game, all of the weird creatures we encounter are in hallucinations and don’t actually exist which made everything a little more believable (Nathan Drake can still move 10-ton stones by himself, though). Lastly, the best thing that I can say about this game is that it feels like an old-school James Bond game, but with glorious graphics and insane set pieces, like a convoy battle on a horse, racing to get off of a sinking boat (oh, by the way, THAT was a fantastic experience. Chapters 12-15 or so were one continuous and amazing “level”), venturing into the Mines or Moria or whatever the crypts were called, etc., I was reminded of the good old days with Goldeneye or Nightfire or even Quantum of Solace. The villain was decent at best, she or he or whoever the real villain ended up being was forgettable, and never really challenged the hero as he was in the second game.

The gun battles, the larger-than-life sequences that made my jaw drop, the relationship between Sully and Nate, and the gorgeous graphics are all elements of this game that make it so much fun to play, yet also make it fairly average when compared to the second game. Going into this with the expectations that Uncharted 2 sets you up with is a bad idea, but going into this game expecting to have fun, be amazed by some action scenes, and solve some puzzles while shooting some bad guys, is the best way to ensure that you’ll like this game for all that it has to offer. Regardless, Uncharted 3 is a great time and a very memorable game, and I’m going to give it an 8/10, and a green recommendation. However, if you had a choice, I’d ultimately say to play the second one again instead because you’ll probably have a better time in the end. I still have mixed feelings about it, but I’d feel terrible for giving such a gorgeous and fun game any poorer of a rating than it deserves, which is probably higher than I’ve given it, but I want to be an honest review and I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Based on these reviews, it’s easy to see that I love these games. While I feel that I may have originally been a little hard on the third game, I feel that there were many justified complaints even if some of those were petty in comparison to the second game. The first game was a lot of fun and a great scratch-of-the-surface of the series’ potential, and the second game took everything to incredibly new heights, redefining the franchise from being a fun action series to an absolute marvel of a video game franchise. Instead of going further, the third moved more horizontally; it didn’t improve much aside from graphics and controls, but the second still wins as far as amazing cinematic set pieces, characters, and story. Either way, all three games are a ton of fun, and the entire collection is a must-play as a whole. I’m going to give this trilogy a 9/10, and a gold recommendation! Time to play Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End now! Have you played these and what did you think about them? As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

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