is a history lesson on a grand scale. It weaves through maps, journals,
and diary entries long separated from their ancient authors, in
abandoned ruins across the world. But this collection also delves into
the series’ own dark recesses, highlighting the progress developer
Naughty Dog made from the first Uncharted to the third. There is
brilliance in this collection. But there are hints of mediocrity as
It begins with the first entry in the
series, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, which shipped in 2007. This marks
our first moment with its hero, Nathan Drake. He’s since become a video
game icon, but eight years ago, he was Naughty Dog’s first departure
from the affable Jak and Daxter. At the time, Drake had yet to prove his
The Uncharted series combines
third-person action, cover-based shooting, and cinematic storytelling.
Throughout its three installments, we’ve followed our hero across
deserts, between mountains, and underground through ancient tombs. Each
title is replete with action-oriented set pieces, from Uncharted 2’s
perilous train intro to Uncharted 3’s premature plane evacuation.
grouping all three PS3 titles together in one place, The Nathan Drake
Collection comprises a larger story arc. We can experience the entire
original journey, from beginning to end, in 1080p, at 60 fps.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’s story takes a sharp turn in this cavern.But
this adventure’s early moments are unsettling. Despite its upgrades,
the first Uncharted has not aged well. Drake’s Fortune used to be an
enjoyable, accomplished game–but that was in 2007. This remastered
version looks gorgeous now, its lush jungles greener, its shooting
controls tighter thanks to Bluepoint Games’ refinements. But set against
modern standards, its overall quality is middling.
movements are floaty and imprecise. The cover mechanic places me in
danger far too often. Climbing sequences leave little room for error,
often leading to death for unknown reasons. There are even rare
storytelling missteps: the entire middle section of the game is devoid
of much meaningful character progression, opting instead for imprecise
jetski treks against the jungle’s raging rivers. Furthermore, at the
perceived death of his closest friend, Drake allows himself a single
gasp, before his mourning is displaced by excitement for another
adventure. He’s smiling ten minutes later, laughing as he looks into the
sunset toward the next “X” on the map.
through Drake’s first outing means suffering constant frustrations. But
in the end, it’s worth playing, because of what its story leads to:
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a fantastic sequel successfully modernized
by improved cosmetics and smoother aiming controls. Naughty Dog’s
characters show real complexity here, and their relationships shift,
align, and resettle as the story takes haphazard turns.Uncharted 2’s intro still outshines many other games’ endings.Its
pacing is masterful as ever, too. Small skirmishes and full-scale
battles in the Himalayas perforate a story with real charm. In slower
sections where other developers might falter, Naughty Dog uses endearing
dialogue and cinematic shots to give the story a sense of gravity.
There is, as they say, never a dull moment.
of the same rings true in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Although the
pacing stumbles throughout, and the story introduces supernatural
elements in a predictable manner, Uncharted’s characterization is at its
peak here. Drake’s bright personality shows some darker shades. Sully
tries to anchor things with a warm, comforting presence, and Elena’s
apprehension toward Drake mirrors our own, as we grow to question his
Much has been made about the
disconnect between the characters of Uncharted, and the actions they
perform. Drake, Sully, and their crews are amicable people. But they
have almost no problem killing on a whim. To be clear, this doesn’t make
any of the three games less fun–they are shooters, after all, and the
resulting action is tighter here.The beginning of an era.But
the narrative disconnect does pull me out at times. In a series so
focused on story, it’s odd that the characters collide against the
gameplay with such friction.
Uncharted 2 and 3
both make self-aware nods to this dichotomy–one of the main villains
even points out Drake’s murderous streak with a clichéd “You’re not so
different from me”–but it’s hard to get past the speed and ease in
which Drake and Sully switch between jovial exposition to mass-murder.
disconnect is more pronounced in 2015, considering Naughty Dog’s work
on The Last of Us, a game in which its characters, their actions, and
the world around them all made sense together. There is violence in The
Last of Us–but it belongs there.
Uncharted’s inherent juxtaposition, these games are still fun shooters
with colossal set-pieces. There are also new modes that add variety to
the series, such as the punishing Brutal difficulty, the easier Explorer
mode, and a Continuous Speed Run mode that keeps track of your time
during certain sections of Drake’s travels.
as of this writing, we know Uncharted 3 isn’t the end. Uncharted 4 is
on the way, and with it, the continuation of Drake’s story. And in
preparing us for the vagabond’s encore–likely his final
chapter–Bluepoint Games has delivered a polished prelude.
developer has compiled a singular story arc leading into the fourth
chapter, and revamped it for modern visual palates. Like the best
stories, those of Uncharted and its characters have changed over time.
The Nathan Drake Collection smooths out the crinkled pages, clarifies
the memories, and buffs all the right details in the retelling of this
In preparing us for Nathan Drake’s encore, Bluepoint Games has delivered a polished prelude.
various times throughout the Uncharted games, our protagonist carries
the ring of Francis Drake on a leather band around his neck. The ring’s
inscription reads: “Sic Parvus Magna,” or, “greatness from small
I can’t imagine a better way to
encapsulate this collection. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was a fine game
in 2007, but its wrinkles are deeper now, its age more apparent.
Uncharted 2 and 3, though, Naughty Dog transcended Drake’s own small
beginnings. The Nathan Drake Collection is a firsthand account of
Naughty Dog’s growth as a storyteller, and this collection is the best
way to relive that history, and witness its transformation up close.