Treasure hunting has never looked so good.
Considering the volume of HD remasters on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it's only logical that Sony would decide to push for a re-release of the Uncharted games on its new console. Naughty Dog's action series became a flagship franchise on the PlayStation 3 and turned Nathan Drake into one of the most recognizable protagonists in video games. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection allows fans to relive the action hero's most memorable moments, and it opens up a whole new world to PS4 owners who never played the series on PS3. Parts of Uncharted have aged better than others, but the visual upgrade creates a great excuse to play one of the best series from the last generation of video games, whether it's a return trip or a brand new experience.
The core Uncharted experience remain largely unchanged in The Nathan Drake Collection. The shooting and platforming still feel the same and Nathan Drake remains his charismatic self. The first game in the series, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, undergoes minor tweaks in that the motion controls are removed and thus grenade controls are simplified. The following two games play better than the first one, but all three of them hold up well. The spectacle of the series is what separates Uncharted from its competition, and that remains true in 2015. The opening train sequence in Uncharted 2 and the cargo plane fight in Uncharted 3 still have that wow factor, and few other developers craft set pieces like Naughty Dog.
Unlike those set pieces, going back to the Uncharted combat years later causes occasional moments of frustration. The gunplay improves over time in the series, but the prospect of stealth doesn't even exist in the first game. Thus, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune in particular feels dated in spots. Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 play better than the first game, but those still feature a lot of bullet-sponge enemies. Bulletproof vests can be very effective in both real and virtual life, but the Uncharted series take it to a whole other level. At least I've played enough of the series in my life to successfully land headshots with consistency.
Despite the minor combat issues, the Uncharted games are still a ton of fun to play. They also look fantastic thanks to the visual upgrade courtesy of Bluepoint Games. This is the same company that worked on the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid collections, so Naughty Dog's Uncharted series is in good hands. All three games tout 1080p resolutions and run at a steady 60fps. Seeing the games in action is truly a wonder to behold, and the cutscenes are often stunning. Each Uncharted game was a technical benchmark for the PS3, and now The Nathan Drake Collection is one of the best-looking games on PS4 due to the remaster treatment.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection includes a few extra goodies beyond the visual upheaval. There's a photo mode, so players can take screenshots at any time to show off how good the game looks. The collection also features a couple of new difficulty modes: Explorer for beginners and Brutal for the best Uncharted players in the world. Players can also select the speed run mode that tracks time in order to challenge friends or become the next AGDQ sensation. All of these features don't quite make up for the lack of multiplayer, which will surely bother some fans. I always felt the Uncharted multiplayer was more of a fun diversion than a key reason to play the series, but I know plenty of people who spent many hours playing Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 online.
The single-player campaigns are the main appeal of the Uncharted series though, and they still provide plenty of thrilling moments in 2015. The combat isn't quite as impressive as it was years ago, but all three games are worth experiencing for the wonderful characters and Indiana Jones-esque action sequences. The HD remaster in particular does wonders for the series and makes Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection an easy recommendation for PS4 owners.