Uncharted is basically Indiana Jones in video game form, and as such, the franchise has been a big hit ever since its debut in 2007. With Uncharted 4 slated for a 2016 release, now is the perfect time to catch up on the first three installments, whether you're replaying them or experiencing them for the first time.
Sony is keenly aware of this, and as such, has released Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, a compilation of the first three Uncharted games remastered for PS4. It's a convenient way to get your treasure-hunting fix until the new game comes out, but is it worth the money, especially if you've already experienced them on the PlayStation 3? The short answer: probably.
What Is Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection?
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a PS4 game that collects Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Sony first released these games on PS3 in 2007, 2009 and 2011, respectively. The Nathan Drake Collection will launch on Oct. 9, and cost $60.
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What Is Uncharted All About?
If you grew up watching the Indiana Jones movies until you wore through the VHS tapes, Sony developed Uncharted with you in mind. The franchise tells the story of Nathan Drake, a charming, roguish treasure hunter who is always on the hunt for a lost civilization, the answer to a historical mystery or a long-buried cache of gold. The games themselves are equal parts platforming, puzzle-solving and gunplay, as Nate tends to draw the ire of colorful villains looking to use his discoveries for evil. Each game is about 10 hours long and follows Nate on a globetrotting adventure.
What's New in The Nathan Drake Collection?
For the most part, The Nathan Drake Collection is just the first three Uncharted games, more or less as they appeared on the PS3. The biggest improvement is graphical: While the originals ran at 30 frames per second and 720p, the Nathan Drake collection runs at 60 fps and 1080p. There are minor graphical upgrades throughout, including improved lighting, better draw distance and higher-res character models. Sony has made a few gameplay tweaks as well, such as improving grenade controls in Drake's Fortune and aiming in Drake's Deception.
There are a few new modes for complete newbies and hardened veterans as well. The Explorer difficulty mode makes it almost impossible to fail in combat, leaving players to focus on the story and puzzles.
At the other end of the spectrum, Brutal difficulty is a step above Crushing, and puts Nate just one well-placed shot away from disaster in all combat encounters. A Speed Run mode allows you to blast through all three games as quickly as possible and compete against your friends for the fastest game time.
There's also a Photo Mode, which allows you to take snapshots of some of the games' stunning vistas and share those images with the Internet. It's nice, but not the strongest argument for buying the games again.
Buying The Nathan Drake Collection gives you exclusive access to the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta between Dec. 4 and Dec. 13. However, this is as much an apology as it is a perk.
What's Missing from The Nathan Drake Collection?
While the three Uncharted games made the transition from PS3 to PS4 mostly unscathed, Among Thieves and Drake's Deception did lose something big in the process: their entire multiplayer components.
While Drake's Fortune was a strictly single-player affair, its two successors had well-received competitive multiplayer modes. Neither one is present here, as Sony did not want to split up the existing communities. (The fact that building and maintaining online spaces is much more difficult than updating single-player adventures probably also had something to do with it.) The multiplayer servers on both PS3 games will continue to run uninterrupted for now.
The collection also does not include the surprisingly good Uncharted: Golden Abyss spinoff that debuted for PlayStation Vita in 2011. While Golden Abyss is a prequel story that's not strictly necessary for following the three main games, it was much better than a handheld side-story had to be, and it's disappointing to see it get left out.
Finally, the Twitter integration from Among Thieves is nowhere to be found, but that particular feature is probably best left to the mists of history.
Should Newcomers Pick It Up?
Absolutely. Three classic games for $60 is a great proposition on its own, and it only gets better when those games now run at 1080p and 60 fps. The new difficulties should please both casual gamers and masochistic diehards alike, and these memorable adventures will help you catch up with the story before Uncharted 4 comes out.
If you have a PS3, you can pick up all three titles for much less money on that platform, but in my estimation, the graphical upgrades and convenience are worth the cost. Unless, of course, you really want to check out the multiplayer, in which case you should stick to the last-gen titles.
Should Veterans Pick It Up?
I'll give The Nathan Drake Collection a tentative "yes" for those who've already played the games. Sixty dollars for three remastered games is a reasonable asking price, especially since you might not have played them in the last four years. All three games are still excellent adventures, and they look great on a current-gen console.
If paying top-dollar for three games you've already played sticks in your craw, you can wait for a price drop, but there's a lot to be said for the convenience of having all three games on a modern console. Even if you've already played the games on every difficulty, the Brutal and Speed Run modes ought to give you something new to try.
The one exception is if you are primarily a fan of Uncharted's multiplayer. As the PS4 collection has eschewed that feature, you'll have to stick to competing with your friends and rivals on a last-gen system, at least until Uncharted 4 comes out.