Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection PS4 Review: The Criterion Collection

Sony and Bluepoint Games bring the Uncharted series to PlayStation 4 in style.

Review by Mike Williams, .

The Uncharted series has aged really well.

Perhaps "aged" isn't the best term for it. The very first Uncharted actually came out in 2007, less than a decade ago, with further sequels dropping every two years. That means the last main title, Uncharted 3, actually released four years ago. It's not as short-term as the The Last of Us Remastered, but Sony Computer Entertainment isn't mining the ancient archives for this Remastered Collection.

Drake is back. [All screenshots native capture on PlayStation 4]

There's a case to be made for these recent remasters, especially given the lack of backwards compatibility on current consoles. Playing your favorite games with improved performance on your current console is a desirable option for many players who have moved on from PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. In cinema, the Criterion Collection is dedicated to taking classic films and releasing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality available. Sure, there's something to be said for the original memory played back again as it was originally experienced, but I've always leaned towards that same memory, now presented in Technicolor.

Uncharted Collection is all three of the previously-released PlayStation 3 Uncharted games - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - packaged together and visually-improved by port developer Bluepoint Games. Despite Sony Computer Entertainment farming the port out to another studio, Uncharted Collection is a complete class act, in some cases blurring the line between a remaster and a remake.

First and foremost, every single game in the collection has been kicked up to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. (I don't think it's locked, but it stays close to 60 fps most of the time.) This is a significant improvement, as all three games were 30 fps in their original state. Every scene, every gunfight, every flood, and every chase is silky smooth, with solid anti-aliasing to boot. Seriously, some of Uncharted 2 and 3 elaborate set pieces are astounding in 60 fps with crisp image quality. Uncharted 2's train and helicopter attack sequences in the new presentation made me fan myself a bit.

The quality does break down in the cutscenes, which are still pre-rendered and thus feature the occasional blurriness from compression artifacts, but overall the games look great on PS4.

Bluepoint didn't stop there though. There's a few updated models and improved level geometry here and there. Some textures have been redone. Lighting effects received a bump. The most surprising upgrade was Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, which seems to have been retuned to bring it further in line with Uncharted 2 and 3. The overall game feels faster and more responsive than the PlayStation 3 original. No, it's still not up to par with its sequels, but it makes the experience far better than it was before.

All three games are tied together with a solid UI and switching titles is a breeze; it took 20 seconds at most for me to load up a different game in the collection. There's also a couple of new features rounding out the complete set. First up is two new difficulty modes. Explorer is now the lowest level of difficulty, providing an even easier experience for those who just want to see Drake's story. Then there's the new Brutal difficulty level, which unlocks when you beat each game on Crushing. (Crushing comes unlocked already, so you don't have to beat Hard this time around.)

There's the Speed Run Modes, which can be run per level or in a continuous manner. In Speed Run Mode, a clock occupies the upper-right of the screen, tracking your completion time for your chosen level and your best times overall. It's not a mode I'd personally see much use in, but I'm sure there's some hardcore players that are up for challenging their friends.

Speaking of friends, Uncharted Collection tracks a number of play statistics, including total kills, kills per weapon, headshots, time played in each game, time idle in each game, speed run times, and much, much more. If you have the option on, the game also checks your friends' gameplay stats and provides a competitive comparison via an in-game notification. Another reviewer and I were in an unspoken headshot competition in each game; I'm proud to say I won in Uncharted and Uncharted 2. At any time, you can jump into the full statistics list and check your friends list leaderboards for each stat.

Photo Mode lets you pause the game (most of the time), move the camera around, change the field of view and depth of field, and add borders and color filters. Then you can turn off the UI to take a picture via the Share button. All of the shots in the review that don't have a UI were natively captured on my PlayStation 4 via Photo Mode. Honestly, this might be my favorite new feature in Uncharted Collection, but it's randomly limited. In certain scenes, Photo Mode simply won't activate and in others where the camera is fixed for dramatic purpose, you can't move the camera around at all. I also found that occasionally the lighting would change when I switched to Photo Mode. Honestly, a more robust Photo Mode is something I think every game should have and what's here is a great start.

Finally, you can unlock costumes, weapons, and other tweaks to the gameplay by collecting treasure in each game and completing other objectives. That means you can be Drake in various outfits, Elena, Sully, Doughnut Drake, of even the game's villains if you want.

The most glaring omission in the Uncharted Collection is the multiplayer modes, which don't make the cut at all. They're simply gone, so if that's a big selling point for you, you should stick with the original titles.

If you're looking to revisit the Uncharted franchise before Uncharted 4: A Thief's End drops in March 2016, this is a worthwhile purchase. This is probably the best Remastered Collection I've ever played, outdoing Bluepoint's own older work. The Uncharted games themselves are great, so having them all in a single package on PlayStation 4 is a definite winner.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Interface: The shared menu is minimal and smooth, existing only to get you from game to game.
  • Lasting appeal: Each game is around 10 hours, though you can get more out of it if you try the higher difficulty levels or attempt to collect all the treasure.
  • Sound: The Uncharted soundtrack still rocks.
  • Visuals: This collection's primary draw. Every Uncharted game at 1080/60fps is a sight to behold.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is probably one of the best remastered collections I've ever played. If you own the Uncharted games, they look much better in 1080p at a smooth 60 fps. If you've never played them, now is the time to get in on the action. Great games, great collection.

4.5 /5

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection PS4 Review: The Criterion Collection Mike Williams Sony and Bluepoint Games bring the Uncharted series to PlayStation 4 in style. 2015-09-30T14:00:00-04:00 4.5 5

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Comments 10

  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #1 cldmstrsn 2 years ago
    Man! so excited to get this. I kind of wish it wasn't 60 but when I think that each game Remastered is basically 20 bucks then I can dig.
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  • Avatar for manny_c44 #2 manny_c44 2 years ago
    Played the first one for about 20 minutes...quickly realized it was on-rails boring shite. It was like watching bad television.
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  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #3 Monkey-Tamer 2 years ago
    I'm of mixed feelings regarding these. I recently replayed Dead Space on my PC, having originally purchased the game for PS3. The graphics were certainly better than the limitations imposed by the PS3's outdated hardware, making the game almost on par with more recent games. No nasty PS3 aliasing and resolution in 1080p. I agree that the upgrade breaths new life into old games, but I'm not happy about shelling out for the same thing again, especially for the same price I previously paid. I'm cheap and waited for the previous Uncharted games to drop to 20 each.
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #4 Mooglepies 2 years ago
    I have mixed feelings about this series (and indeed, all of ND's recent output). On the one hand I can respect and appreciate the time and effort taken to create the games, and how much attention to detail there is.

    On the other hand, I've been done with the linear cinematic shooter for years (and, mechanically, they don't really bring anything new to the table) so playing the games actually bores me to tears. I can't really argue with the results though, as they all seem to sell like hotcakes.

    Props to Bluepoint for getting it at a stable 1080p60 and for the other additions. Remasters don't have to be lazy, and there's always space to improve even when the game is only a few years old.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #5 cldmstrsn 2 years ago
    @Monkey-Tamer well technically these are still 20 each!
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  • Avatar for jimmyhill11 #6 jimmyhill11 2 years ago
    All of ND's recent output?
    I thought I was done after Uncharted 3. I flatout didn't enjoy it. But TLoU is a completely different thing and I don't think it can be classed as a 'cinematic shooter'. Firstly, it isn't what I'd call 'cinematic'. It's a linear narrative driven game, but it eschews the features you associate with cinematic games. The scripted set pieces are gone. It's cut scenes are sparse and infrequent. Secondly, i'd say it's more a stealth game than a shooter. The enemy encounters can play out differently depending on how you approach them, and if you go in with the guns then you're in trouble (especially on harder difficulties).
    But with Uncharted, I'm with you. I did like the first two games, but I didn't love them in the same way as, say, Resident Evil 4 or TLoU. Uncharted 3 was overwhelmed by the set pieces interrupting the game flow. You could barley walk two steps without some piece of scenery collapsing under/ontop of Drake. It was completely unbalanced. And even the story just seemed to be revisiting beats from the first two games and getting by on a certain amount of schtick.Edited 5 times. Last edited September 2015 by jimmyhill11
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  • Avatar for internisus #7 internisus 2 years ago
    I guess they didn't fix Uncharted 3's disjointedness, sadly. That game was such a disappointment to me with its sense of unfinished, weirdly sequences narrative beats and stages, and the story completely dropped important threads like Drake's origin and his dark drive to push forward for personal reasons even when it looked clear that he was going to get his friends killed and they called him on it. Then the supernatural threat that everything was about in the end came out of nowhere and made zero sense.

    It was a real let down after the wonderful geographic and even cultural focus of Among Thieves, coupled with the thematic consistency of its story. I had half-heartedly fantasized that Naughty Dog would use the opportunity of this remastered collection to make some repairs. Ah well; I still love the series generally and will be thrilled to play them at 60 fps.Edited October 2015 by internisus
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #8 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @internisus Naughty Dog didn't touch them at all as far as I can tell, Bluepoint did everything.
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #9 Mooglepies 2 years ago
    @jimmyhill11 I hear you on the Uncharted stuff. I kind of think that the issue is about having to make sequels "more" than the previous entries. Not just better, more. More action, more setpieces, more of everything. Then it all gets crammed together and the pacing gets very disjointed, and the joy of discovery you get with good pacing is very quickly blunted by just how much they have going on, all the time.

    It's a very easy trap to fall into, and ND wouldn't be the first or last to get caught by it.

    I had issues with TLoU as well, but I can concede that it could be just my ennui of the third person shooter as a whole rather than any particularly glaring issue with the game. Ultimately I couldn't engage with it, (or it with me, whichever) so I couldn't find a reason to stick with it in the end.
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  • Avatar for jimmyhill11 #10 jimmyhill11 2 years ago
    I think in terms of getting things right for a sequel, Uncharted 2 pretty much nailed it. The set pieces are bigger and more elaborate, but also more memorable and fun to play. They mix things up - like having the battle in the Nepalese village being a more open ended affair contrasted with that battle on top of the train which is a great riff on the linear 'corridor shooter'.

    But with Uncharted 3, I think they did fall into the trap you describe. The set pieces are just thrown in, seemingly for the sake of 'more is more'. There is less effort to justify having them there in terms of story, and the game play balance is thrown all out of whack. So much in that game just feels likes its there not because the story or mechanics justify it, but because ND had a cool set piece that they wanted to work in. It just feels less organic than U2, and it isn't a game I enjoyed.

    The Last of Us was a compelety new undertaking for Naughty Dog, and I think it utterly refreshed their creative juices. There seems to be much more thought regarding the balance between basic gameplay mechanics and the more elaborate 'set pieces', and making them all coherent within the world and the story. I'd say the only really big set piece in the game is when you have to take out the enemy sniper, and even there it's a segment built upon the established mechanics and giving the player control.Edited 3 times. Last edited October 2015 by jimmyhill11
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