Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection [Review]

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8 years ago Naughty Dog released one of the most amazing Action/Adventure franchises available to date. Shockingly enough, Naughty Dog has stated that approximately 80% of current PlayStation 4 owners have never played an Uncharted game. This is likely due to the fact that around 50% of PS4 owners never even owned a PS3. With the highly anticipated Uncharted 4 coming up in spring, we were given a chance to catch up on this amazing story driven series before Uncharted 4’s release. So what is Uncharted?

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Well the best way to describe it is “A tribute to classic treasure hunting movies like Indiana Jones.” Its a third person Action/Adventure/Puzzle/Platforming game all mixed into one. I Don’t think I would get much debate in saying its pretty much like playing a Tomb Raider style game, mixed with Gears of War style combat. You play as Nathan Drake, a witty, wise cracking, lovable treasure hunter set on an adventure and traveling the world solving puzzles, climbing on anything with a ledge and risking your life against an army of enemies working for the antagonist who is usually up to no good. With so many people having never played an uncharted game, I thought it might be best to do a quick review for each game as if they were new, as well as the HD collection in one. That way you’ll be able to better understand what you’ve been missing and why you should be playing this series.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

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As I mentioned earlier, you step into the shoes of Nathan Drake and along with his pal Sully, you try to uncover an  ancient treasure believed to be discovered by Nate’s ancestor Sir Frances Drake. The game doesn’t necessarily bring anything new in terms of game play that you haven’t likely experienced before. What it does bring is it’s incredible story driven plot and phenomenal voice acting to really take the story from game, to playable movie. The combat is standard third person with you finding cover and poking your head out to take out an enemy who is exposed.

The enemies have a lot of health and as a result can take a lot of ammo to eliminate which can be a problem when you find yourself low on ammo and way out numbered. Head-shots are a great way to speed up the combat but aren’t the easiest to pull off with the enemy AI being half decently intelligent. I did feel like the combat scenarios in the game became a little too frequent, Nathan even makes a few jokes at how endless the enemies feel. The puzzles are fun but also fairly simple with the answers being pretty much provided to you. The controls feel good but I had issues trying to pick up ammo with the same button used to pick up a gun and have to go back and get the gun I wanted. The platforming part of the game is an exciting and fun way to progress through the detailed and interesting world created in the game.

Over all I found Uncharted: Drakes Fortune to be a somewhat revolutionary game for its era in terms of story. Even by today’s standards its a well made game and the minor issues it has with overbearing combat and its asinine sea-doo segment are easily forgiveable when you get to the end and remember how much fun you had and how easy it is to get invested in the characters and their story.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

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The second game of the series is basically the same and yet somehow they managed to improve on something that was already so good. The game starts with one of the best beginnings in history and quickly sets you up for just how insanely epic this title is going to be. The controls are basically the same but the minor stealth options have been mildly improved on. Unfortunately it’s still fairly difficult to maintain stealth because there is no way to tell when an enemy will be able to see you. Like in the first game the story is one of the main reasons to be playing.

The in-game mini cut-scenes and quick time events really improve on the sense that the Uncharted series is more of an interactive movie than just another video game. the combat feels toned down without feeling easier. I never felt like I was just totally sick of gun fights like I did in Drakes Fortune. The puzzles are a little bit harder which in my opinion makes them a bit more fun to try and figure out. The only major flaw I could find in Among Thieves was that they ammo pickup and gun swap was still the same button which really annoyed me; they should just make ammo pickups automatic by walking over it or maybe press triangle for ammo and press and hold for gun swap.

Overall, Uncharted 2 is one of my favorite adventure games of all time. Even 6 years after its original release, its still one of the best stories in a game. Its difficult enough to make you feel like you’ve overcome a challenge but still easy enough to have fun without getting frustrated. Sadly the ammo pickup is flawed.

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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

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The most recent instalment in the franchise is easily the most chaotic. It’s as if they took a few pages from Micheal Bay’s book with this one. It’s almost difficult to find a time when you can climb on something without it crumbling away, exploding or just simply falling apart and sending Drake tumbling, nearly to his demise. I do have to say that it makes for some truly exciting action and brings a whole new level of intensity to the platforming part of the game but it also gets a tad exhausting. However, don’t take that the wrong way, while it can get old closer to the end of the game, it also created some of the most action packed, cinematic in game experiences I’ve ever faced in a story driven game. Drake’s Deception gives us a glimpse into Nate’s past and really helps strengthen your already strong feelings towards the characters. The fighting has also been updated to include better hand to hand combat. With the newly added “counter” ability, its easier to take on a few guys at once without guns and really brings dynamics to the combat system.

Overall, Uncharted 3 is a great follow-up to one of the best action adventures of our time. Naughty Dog really showed that they are invested in keeping the series fresh and exciting. Unfortunately due to the overwhelming action, it falls a little short of Uncharted 2.

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So what does the Nathan Drake Collection bring?

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In short, not much. But that doesn’t mean its not great. The recently released remaster gives us a way to play some of the PlayStation 3’s most fun and  exciting games in full HD 1080, 60FPS. The added frame rate really helps with aiming, running sequences and the lighting upgrades really emphasize just how much work was put into the incredibly beautiful levels. Even now, with the capabilities of the PS4, I found myself stopping to admire the world that was created in the game.

I was hoping for some extra content sort of like you would find in a special edition Blu-Ray like behind the scenes, a making of or even just some great art but sadly we got none of those things. They did however add new difficulty for the more hardcore players to challenge themselves with. 

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If I have not drilled it into your head by now, the Uncharted franchise is some of Naughty Dogs best work, on par with the incredible story telling of The Last of Us. The story alone is reason enough to experience these games but the added excitement of being a part of the action yourself is even better. The HD collection gives many new players a chance to discover just how good Naughty Dog is at making games that really give you value for your money. I highly recommend picking this up for yourself and getting familiar with the story and characters before Uncharted 4 drops on March 18.

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