Remastered games have been a huge point of contention in the current generation of consoles. On the one hand, many would rather developers and publishers focus on creating new titles for the newer systems rather than giving old games a facelift. But on the other hand, remasters can be great for anyone who has swapped console brands this generation, or hasn’t owned a gaming system in a while, and gives them a chance to experience awesome titles they may have missed.
I personally find myself siding with the Old El Paso girl and saying: “why can’t we have both?”
Anyway, enter Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for Playstation 4.
Remastered into 1080p resolution and running at 60 frames-per-second, The Nathan Drake Collection bundles the Naughty Dog trilogy of Uncharted games: Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception. In terms of narrative, the swashbuckling adventures of Nathan Drake remain unchanged and are as thrilling as ever. If you are a newcomer to the series and want to know of the games’ quality, the series’ critical acclaim has been plastered all over the internet for the past eight years and you can go better inform yourself as to whether these blockbuster, very stylised, action adventure games are right for you. I would also add that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves still remains in my top five PS3 games of all time, ever since it came out in 2009.
As for the rest of you, on to what you’re really here for: just how gob-smackingly gorgeous is the remaster, and what else does it bring to the table?
Well, just watch this:
That was the opening moments of Among Thieves, captured live as I was playing it (you’ll notice I stumbled a few times regarding where to go, it’s been a while). Also I included a little cut scene too to give you an idea of the storytelling quality.
The remaster team at Bluepoint have, among other things, upped the texture resolution and improved the character models to bring them more in line with current standards, especially when it comes to Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception as that was when the visual tone of the games shifted into more photo-realistic territory.
Drake’s Fortune has still gotten all the improvements its sequels have, but there have been no changes to the animations of the characters so, despite the fluidity and improved lighting, it still feels a bit dated. That’s not to say it doesn’t look great, in fact I was very impressed at how great a game from 2007 looks running against current generation titles.
That screenshot was taken in “Photo Mode”, a running trend with Playstation 4 remasters, having also appeared in The Last of Us Remastered and God of War III Remastered. You can pause the action and take screenshots while controlling the angle, depth of field and even apply filters if you want to go the whole Instagram route.
Here’s another from Drake’s Fortune:
As for how the games play, there have been a few improvements here or there that were noticeable in my several hours with each title. Firstly, gone are the shocking motion controls from Drake’s Fortune for throwing grenades and balancing on thin beams, replaced with the analogue stick approach from Among Thieves/Drake’s Deception. Other than that, in all three titles the weapons feel a bit tighter in their aiming, with less random flailing around if you bumped the analogue sticks too much.
But speaking of the analogue sticks, all three games didn’t feel as responsive as I thought they ought to. Now granted, the Uncharted series wasn’t the best controls-wise, and maybe I’m misremembering the originals due to rose-tinted glasses, but some of the quick platforming sections in the remasters were pretty difficult when the left stick would react sluggishly. On top of that, the sensitivity between running and walking was very slight, with running requiring the the left stick to be pushed fully forward and even the smallest reduction in pressure caused Nate to screech to a walk.
I got used to it, and maybe it will be patched later, but it was certainly problematic on more than one occasion.
I touched on Photo Mode a little earlier, but outside of that there is not much else in terms of extras in The Nathan Drake Collection. There are two new difficulty modes, Brutal and Explorer, the former being more punishing than the previous Crushing difficulty and the latter toning down the combat challenge for those after the more story based experience. I personally have found the Uncharted series difficult enough on the Normal/Hard settings, but if virtual masochism is your thing then it’s there for you.
There is also the option to “Speed Run” the games, the idea being you can keep track of how quickly you finish the game and compete/compare with your friends. Really all it does is add a clock to the corner of your play screen. I know Speed Running is a big thing in the online community now, but Uncharted has never struck me as a series in demand for competitive time trials.
The Nathan Drake Collection bundles together three of the best games from the PS3’s life-cycle, and that in itself makes it a worthy package, despite being light on extras. The controls may not be perfect, but the quality of the narrative, the acting, the visuals and the jaw-dropping set pieces are all here and better than ever. Naughty Dog invented a genre with these games, and if you’ve never played them then you owe it to yourself to rectify that.