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Review

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

  • First Released Oct 9, 2015
    released
  • Reviewed Sep 30, 2015
  • PS4
  • PS4

From small beginnings.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a history lesson on a grand scale. It weaves through maps, journals, and diary entries long separated from their ancient authors, in abandoned ruins across the world. But this collection also delves into the series' own dark recesses, highlighting the progress developer Naughty Dog made from the first Uncharted to the third. There is brilliance in this collection. But there are hints of mediocrity as well.

It begins with the first entry in the series, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, which shipped in 2007. This marks our first moment with its hero, Nathan Drake. He's since become a video game icon, but eight years ago, he was Naughty Dog's first departure from the affable Jak and Daxter. At the time, Drake had yet to prove his worth.

The Uncharted series combines third-person action, cover-based shooting, and cinematic storytelling. Throughout its three installments, we've followed our hero across deserts, between mountains, and underground through ancient tombs. Each title is replete with action-oriented set pieces, from Uncharted 2's perilous train intro to Uncharted 3's premature plane evacuation.

By grouping all three PS3 titles together in one place, The Nathan Drake Collection comprises a larger story arc. We can experience the entire original journey, from beginning to end, in 1080p, at 60 fps.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune's story takes a sharp turn in this cavern.
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune's story takes a sharp turn in this cavern.

But this adventure's early moments are unsettling. Despite its upgrades, the first Uncharted has not aged well. Drake's Fortune used to be an enjoyable, accomplished game--but that was in 2007. This remastered version looks gorgeous now, its lush jungles greener, its shooting controls tighter thanks to Bluepoint Games' refinements. But set against modern standards, its overall quality is middling.

Drake's movements are floaty and imprecise. The cover mechanic places me in danger far too often. Climbing sequences leave little room for error, often leading to death for unknown reasons. There are even rare storytelling missteps: the entire middle section of the game is devoid of much meaningful character progression, opting instead for imprecise jetski treks against the jungle's raging rivers. Furthermore, at the perceived death of his closest friend, Drake allows himself a single gasp, before his mourning is displaced by excitement for another adventure. He's smiling ten minutes later, laughing as he looks into the sunset toward the next "X" on the map.

Wading through Drake's first outing means suffering constant frustrations. But in the end, it's worth playing, because of what its story leads to: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a fantastic sequel successfully modernized by improved cosmetics and smoother aiming controls. Naughty Dog's characters show real complexity here, and their relationships shift, align, and resettle as the story takes haphazard turns.

Uncharted 2's intro still outshines many other games' endings.
Uncharted 2's intro still outshines many other games' endings.

Its pacing is masterful as ever, too. Small skirmishes and full-scale battles in the Himalayas perforate a story with real charm. In slower sections where other developers might falter, Naughty Dog uses endearing dialogue and cinematic shots to give the story a sense of gravity. There is, as they say, never a dull moment.

Much of the same rings true in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Although the pacing stumbles throughout, and the story introduces supernatural elements in a predictable manner, Uncharted's characterization is at its peak here. Drake's bright personality shows some darker shades. Sully tries to anchor things with a warm, comforting presence, and Elena's apprehension toward Drake mirrors our own, as we grow to question his actions.

Much has been made about the disconnect between the characters of Uncharted, and the actions they perform. Drake, Sully, and their crews are amicable people. But they have almost no problem killing on a whim. To be clear, this doesn't make any of the three games less fun--they are shooters, after all, and the resulting action is tighter here.

The beginning of an era.
The beginning of an era.

But the narrative disconnect does pull me out at times. In a series so focused on story, it's odd that the characters collide against the gameplay with such friction.

Uncharted 2 and 3 both make self-aware nods to this dichotomy--one of the main villains even points out Drake's murderous streak with a clichéd "You're not so different from me"--but it's hard to get past the speed and ease in which Drake and Sully switch between jovial exposition to mass-murder.

This disconnect is more pronounced in 2015, considering Naughty Dog's work on The Last of Us, a game in which its characters, their actions, and the world around them all made sense together. There is violence in The Last of Us--but it belongs there.

Despite Uncharted's inherent juxtaposition, these games are still fun shooters with colossal set-pieces. There are also new modes that add variety to the series, such as the punishing Brutal difficulty, the easier Explorer mode, and a Continuous Speed Run mode that keeps track of your time during certain sections of Drake's travels.

But as of this writing, we know Uncharted 3 isn't the end. Uncharted 4 is on the way, and with it, the continuation of Drake's story. And in preparing us for the vagabond's encore--likely his final chapter--Bluepoint Games has delivered a polished prelude.

The developer has compiled a singular story arc leading into the fourth chapter, and revamped it for modern visual palates. Like the best stories, those of Uncharted and its characters have changed over time. The Nathan Drake Collection smooths out the crinkled pages, clarifies the memories, and buffs all the right details in the retelling of this storied series.

In preparing us for Nathan Drake's encore, Bluepoint Games has delivered a polished prelude.

At various times throughout the Uncharted games, our protagonist carries the ring of Francis Drake on a leather band around his neck. The ring's inscription reads: "Sic Parvus Magna," or, "greatness from small beginnings."

I can't imagine a better way to encapsulate this collection. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was a fine game in 2007, but its wrinkles are deeper now, its age more apparent.

With Uncharted 2 and 3, though, Naughty Dog transcended Drake's own small beginnings. The Nathan Drake Collection is a firsthand account of Naughty Dog's growth as a storyteller, and this collection is the best way to relive that history, and witness its transformation up close.

Mike Mahardy on Google+
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The Good
Vivid, sweeping stories with grand cinematic scope
Endearing, versatile characters with complex relationships
Fine-tuned set pieces in vibrant locations across the world
Masterful pacing in Uncharted 2 and 3
Finer detail and smoother framerate
The Bad
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has not aged well, making a third of the collection a slog
Disconnect between the gameplay and tone of the story that, while not jarring, feels more pronounced by modern standards
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Mike Mahardy still enjoys Uncharted 3 more than any other in the series, despite that arduous desert scene.
539 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

The behaviour scripting for companions in the first entry is really bad. They tend to get in the way during combat.

Also, the finale of the first entry is awful. Troglodytes, really? And then there is this bullshit run towards the camera scenario - and Drake can get killed in one hit in this scenario, after having absorbed so many bullets throughout the playthrough.

Avatar image for gns
GNS

I am playing Uncharted 2 now. Is it just me, or the levels are quite shorter than Uncharted 1?

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709
Ezioprez9709

Played the demo of this, fell in love with it. It was full of action, and it caught me off guard. Might get this in 2016, really impressed.

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g-impy

Tha fukk did I just read? They shoot people in this game?! Thank you Tipper Lieberman, don't call us, we'll call you.

Avatar image for the_bobster_10_
The_Bobster_10_

This was a fantastic review. I feel so embarrassed that I owned the PS3 but only spent a few hours playing the first Uncharted. I never bothered playing the other two - probably because I was so busy with work and school. Anyways. Now that I have more time I am having a lot of fun with the Nathan Drake Collection. It really is a great series and I cannot wait for Uncharted 4.

Avatar image for Verityrant
Verityrant

Picked this up, as one of those who never had a PS3 and no exposure to Uncharted, and I was unbelievably disappointed by the games compared to the hype. Game 1 was super short, and 2 not much better, but that's ok because honestly Uncharted makes a better CGI movie than a game. Most of the set pieces have a very linear and specific approach, so player agency is basically just "press button to keep going". The controls are clunky, often more what I was fighting than any enemy or puzzle. And nothing felt unique in the game at all. Its basically Indiana Tomb Raider with a dash of The Mummy. It all feels like a rehash of archaeological treasure hunt adventure that has been seen before and done better. The only thing it had going for it was charm of the characters and solid dialogue. The stories were cliche', the villains as well, and everything you thought would happen or saw coming did exactly as you suspected. The gameplay mechanics are terrible, stealth was bad, melee combat was bad, shooting was bad, platforming was bad, random poor camera angles during platforming was bad, it was just bad. Again it might make an ok CGI movie just off characters and dialogue (story is just serviceable). But as a game, its bad.

Crying shame too, I was hoping to be impressed by it, as I had heard nothing but praise for this game series, but after playing the collection, I truly do not understand why.

Avatar image for Foxhound1982
Foxhound1982

People complaining about the lack of multiplayer. K'Den, as if you played Uncharted for the joy of an unnecessary MP mode with mostly empty servers, because this series is not about multiplayer. As for the price, wait a few weeks and pick it up on Ebay for half the RRP. With comparisons to Halo MCC, well, maybe that got a lower score because Halo is the biggest pile of dross ever developed, while the Uncharted games are masterpieces.

Avatar image for hollywood1
hollywood1

Yes yes, I understand you placed "spoiler" at the beginning of your review, but why in the hell would you mention WHO dies in the game in a REVIEW! I've never played an Unchartered game before and was looking forward to spending the $60 to finally engross myself in this famous franchise and then YOU being so so unfricken awesome decide to say all nonchalantly "Oh yeah and when this guy dies". Not very smart man, an uncool mention of something that doesn't even benefit the review in anyway. How about thinking through things for those who actually just want a review that doesn't give IMPORTANT details/things away. I've been apart of this site for well over 10 years and this is the first of the thousand reviews I've read when I thought the reviewer an a-hole for spoiling plot details. *slow clap for you Mike. You're a champ.

Avatar image for kadin_kai
Kadin_Kai

Just finished the first game. I partly agree that the first game is a bit old, but its still great to play and very addictive.

What's is surprising is how short the game is, after playing games such as Diablo 3, the Witcher 3, Far Cry 4 and Batman Arkham Knight, Drake's first adventure feels very short. I understand they are different types of games but still feels short, hopefully Unchartered 4 will be a bigger game

Avatar image for TommyT456
TommyT456

OK in your review you state...

"Much of the same rings true in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Although the pacing stumbles throughout...."

but in the pro's column you state...

"Masterful pacing in Uncharted 2 and 3"

You use the term disjointed which seems to better describe the content of this review.

Also, of course the first game in a re-release of an almost decade old franchise is going to show it's age more than the others. That's to be expected and is not a down side when the game is that old. You keep comparing the first game to modern standards but it's not a modern game so that's unfair. Drakes Fortune was so much better than the majority of games at the time and this trilogy is just giving the new PS adopters the chance to experience what they missed last gen while all the way being aware that it is an older game. Plus you may be surprised to hear that in the gaming community there are tonnes of people who prefer UC1 to both sequels, it presents more of a challenge and has more gameplay that isn't scripted set pieces. I prefer the sequels personally but I can see why so many love DF.

Oh and also you said that UC was Naughty Dogs first departure from Jak and Daxter. If you mean it was the first game they did since the Jak games then you're right but I hope you're not implying that it was the first game they did that wasn't a Jak and Daxter game because that would display a distinct lack of gaming knowledge, especially as Crash Bandicoot was such a big franchise.

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pgharavi

Anyone know what song is playing during the review?

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DEVILTAZ35

The game was made for the dual shock 3 at 30 fps so just changing the graphics and leaving the original physics in place as it was before was bound to cause control issues. All of the timings were set for the PS3 and i doubt they bothered mucking about with that part when they upped it to 60 fps.

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MyFinalHeaven86

IMO, there is no reason to buy this being that Uncharted 4 is being released. I'd rather wait until they are ALL released and buy the ENTIRE collection. Hopefully by that point they will all be remastered. Great games though!

Avatar image for TommyT456
TommyT456

@MyFinalHeaven86: You'll be waiting a loooooong time!

Avatar image for moesuir
moesuir

So Halo MCC gets a 6.0, but this $60 collection which has FEWER games gets a 8.0 ???

Gamespot, you're dead to me !!!!!!!

Avatar image for TommyT456
TommyT456

@moesuir: What has the number of games got to do with it? It's the quality that is reviewed, not the quantity. Plus the MCC was completely broken on release. If it is in fact fully fixed now then maybe they will re-review it. But if you ask me Halo is one of the most overrated series ever made.

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Xbox1day1

@TommyT456: I completely agree I owned all Xbox's and never cared for halo

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stevenchorton

@moesuir: didn't MCC have a bunch of bugs or something?

Avatar image for regix416_basic
regix416_basic

@stevenchorton: They're all fixed now... but Halo 4 is still as hard as it ever was... And even if you CAN get the expansion for Halo 3 for free now, it's STILL not worth it. Halo 2 CE is STILL the best game of the set.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

There's finally upvotes, yahoo! But you're wrong in your comment, I've finished the games several times over, not worry about the spoilers, I'm simply not interested in the plot stuff, as should be all people, since the games are old now and most importantly all the plot stuff was talked about in their respective reviews, it's just common sense. I stand by my "dumb" grade.

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marcheegsr

The Last of us remaster > Uncharted collection

Avatar image for regix416_basic
regix416_basic

@marcheegsr: 1 game and expansion vs. 3 games? I didn't care too much for Uncharted Drake's Fortune either but 3 games is a lot better than 1 game.

Avatar image for spiddyman007
spiddyman007

Yeah. I clicked off an ad for this game to watch this. It's not much graphical inhacements. More of refined controles and multiplayer. This whole website is playstation biased. And advertised. If you want a real review check another site. Like not playstation endorsed.

Avatar image for moesuir
moesuir

@spiddyman007: Gamespot is now PlaystationSpot

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RussellGorall

How do you take out half the content and still get a good score?

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Kudorigami

@RussellGorall:

Because it makes absolutely no sense to have it in anticipation of the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta coming out early December.

Avatar image for wkadalie
wkadalie

@RussellGorall: Nobody played Uncharted just for the multiplayer. That was just a bonus. I just want the Uncharted 4 beta. It's why I'm buying this.

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trollhunter2

holy shit at the amount of Butthurt in the comments :O

Avatar image for NoahRoalson
NoahRoalson

A great series, worth playing if you haven't already.

Speaking of games from 2007 holding up I have one word- Crysis.

Avatar image for regix416_basic
regix416_basic

@NoahRoalson: Crysis is S$%# on the PS4. Play it on the PC. On anything else, it looks like S##^.

Avatar image for ksteward84
ksteward84

I loved the games, and I understand if you don't have a PS3 anymore. However, $60 might seem silly for a polished remake if you still have a PS3 and they are all available for probably $30 total.

Avatar image for wkadalie
wkadalie

@ksteward84: You don't get Uncharted 4 beta though.

Avatar image for moesuir
moesuir

@wkadalie: Beta's are supposed to be FREE....sony really has you fooled.

Avatar image for Ohaidere
Ohaidere

$60 might be a bit of a tipping point on me getting this (in the negative direction), especially since the main reason for me to get it at this point would be to play them before getting the $60 sequel. With Battlefront and FO4 coming can't really justify the purchase. Barely have time to play the slough of excellent new games that have come out this year.

Bring back Jak and Daxter :(.

Avatar image for punnyjokes
PunnyJokes

@Ohaidere: I kinda agree. While $60 is a great price for three games, I'm waiting for the month before Uncharted 4 to get this game. That'll give me plenty of time to beat Witcher 3 again, play Fallout 4, and hopefully by then there's a price drop

Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

The word MULTIPLAYER is not even in the review!

How can you tell me with a straight face that this was not paid for? And I don't even believe publications get DIRECT payments, but Sony has ads (right now, no less) on this very website and we all know what it means.

Avatar image for moesuir
moesuir

@Ripper_TV: PlaystationSpot, we give high scores to the games that the cool kids like. And where the advertising dollars are.

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RekkingNoobs247

@Ripper_TV: The damage control is real.

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chimpjnr

"Uncharted 2" was the first game in years to truly blow me away at the time. The scene with the gunship attack on the apartment building in Nepal was simply incredible.

Avatar image for wkadalie
wkadalie

@chimpjnr: It was cool because it wasn't really pre-rendered or a cutscene, just actual physics. All the stuff in the building sliding an stuff.

Avatar image for usernameonetwo
UsernameOneTwo

It's a remaster of not so old games. A quick cash grab. 3/10.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

@usernameonetwo: Why is it 3? It's 0.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection More Info

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  • First Released Oct 9, 2015
    released
    • PlayStation 4
    Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection includes the single-player campaigns for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.
    8.8
    Average Rating153 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
    Developed by:
    Bluepoint Games
    Published by:
    SCE Australia, SCEI, SCEA, Sony Interactive Entertainment, SCEE
    Genre(s):
    Compilation
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence