Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review - Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection | Rediscovering the Uncharted

Remastered games have been popping out like hamsters this year - joining the fray are Naughty Dog’s original Uncharted trilogy, which have been graphically enhanced with high definition textures, improved lighting, 1080p support, running at 60fps, and no less of Drake’s loveable personality. Nathan Drake, the game’s protagonist… not the uninspired monotonous rapper.
Remastered by SCE Bend Studio, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for the PlayStation 4 contains all three games generously packed into a single blu-ray disc package (over 40GB if you’re planning to get the digital release instead). With the fourth sequel currently in development for next year, will this trilogy remaster keep us hyped up for it?

Drake’s Chronicles
A quick refresher for existing fans, and an introduction to newcomers; the Uncharted trilogy follows the action and adventures of Nathan (Nate) Drake - the descendant of Sir Francis Drake, the famous British explorer from the 16th century. Nate has always been viewed as a modern representation of Indiana Jones; complete with a smart aleck personality, and a wonderful cast of characters. His journey takes him around the globe ranging from South East Asia to Europe; seeking clues and links to forgotten treasures, and even lost cities. Aside from well presented stories, the whole trilogy itself is nicely coated with various gameplay elements such as combat, platforming, and puzzle solving. As a person who followed the series since the beginning, it was a pleasant experience to see the franchise improve after each instalment, and this can still be observed in the remaster.

A Restored Artefact
The graphical enhancements in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is not entirely phenomenal such as the excellent Homeworld: Remastered, but they’re still pretty to look at in glorious high definition. Aside from the cosmetic upgrade, the key elements of these games were mostly left untouched - except for a notable few. To fit nicely in a single disc, extra content such as the behind-the-scene videos, as well as Uncharted 2 and 3’s multiplayer modules were omitted entirely. That said, all three games played out as they originally did, but with some welcoming tweaks to gameplay. For the record, the annoying motion controlled grenade mechanic from Uncharted 1 was removed, and thank god for that. It’s also interesting to note that cut-scenes presented in the trilogy are now rendered in real-time unlike the original’s pre-rendered FMVs.

New Discoveries
Unfortunately, there are no major additional contents in this remastered release. Live streamers and speedrunners will be delighted to know that the Collection has included a Speedrun mode to record their best times from start to finish for each game. Other minor additions include new difficulty settings, unified controller layout across all three games (based on Uncharted 3), the inclusion of Photo Mode, and new trophies for dedicated achievement hunters who probably have too much free time on their hands.

Charted Territory
Playing the Uncharted trilogy again has reminded me of the things that I love about the series, and the improvements included in this remaster adds up to it even more. Granted that most of the things it has to offer are all too familiar, but rediscovering the excellent character developments, and reliving key moments such as Uncharted 2’s explosive prologue, strengthens my appreciation for Naughty Dog’s franchise. If you’re new to the series, then picking up Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is the best choice to kick it off. Although excluding the original bonus contents was unfortunate, SCE Bend Studios did a great job with the remaster and port to the PS4 regardless. Also, I can’t help but wonder: where’s the HD remaster for PS Vita’s Uncharted: Golden Abyss? Well, scratch that. Now we wait for Uncharted 4.

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