Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection – PS4

Lately if it’s not one thing it’s another and it has been a crazy stressful time. Nothing helps deal with a sense of overwhelming helplessness like a linear game, especially one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not too much thought, not too much complexity and just a bucket-load of simple kicks. Uncharted TNDC isn’t exactly a new title and I previously have played through Uncharted 1 and a little of 2 on the PS3, I went into this Collection with a sense of wanting something mindless and easy. Something that wasn’t too taxing, like binge watching a trilogy of classic films. Was it worth decoding these notes from the past or was it best to have left it in the sands to be forgotten?

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If you’ve seen one of the first 3 Indiana Jones films or played a classic Tomb Raider game then you’ve already a good idea of what to expect from Uncharted TNDC. It’s a fairly formulaic set of games with plenty of set pieces, basic platforming and buckets of shooting along the way. The first Uncharted is where the game gets to grips with the spongy gun-play and simplistic platforming but it does put the games on a solid first step with some early scenic moments that are fascinating. Uncharted 2 is where everything clicks nicely, the guns are more powerful, the puzzles are just the right level of satisfying challenge and some stages are mindbogglingly ingenious. It’s probably a good thing that there’s another final Nathan Drake game with Uncharted 4 because Uncharted 3 is a hard misstep to end off this package of games. The action feels like a step backward, the set pieces feel more experimental than enjoyable and some puzzles that can be infuriating. It’s also full of ridiculous amounts of spiders to a horrific degree.

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Let’s make this clear, the bundle is a collection of enjoyable games but Uncharted 2 is the best of the bunch here by such a long way. Technically fascinating, great set pieces and a story that’s told in such a brilliantly unique way. Uncharted 1 is an ok experience at best and frustrating at worst, everything balances out to be ok. Uncharted 3 finishes up the set by flip-flopping between amazing and a real drag with dizzying speed, the focus on the clunky hand to hand combat and stealth sections do it no favours. If you only have time for one of these 7hr games then stick with 2 as it’s the best of the bunch. If this collection was standing up with that game alone it would be a no-brainer to recommend it on its own. It doesn’t require 1 to enjoy and if you feel the need to play anymore there’s plenty else to get on with but the middle game is the shining gem here.

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Regardless of which is best, everything in the Uncharted TNDC is visually stunning. The original games were really great visual showcases on the PS3 and the up-scaling and buffing to make everything pop a little more has really paid off. The photo mode button is assigned to down on the d-pad for a reason, you’ll find hundreds of spots and locations that are simply amazing and perfect for a quick snap. The fading away UI and uncluttered systems such as having simple QTEs in the same corner of the screen all lead to a polished presentation from start to finish. The subtitles are easy to read and despite the combat being far from perfect the controls are tight enough. It does feel like the platforming suffers from comparisons to Assassins Creed as it’s a lot more restrictive but once you adjust to only jumping for marked surfaces it all plays out nicely.

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There is a crazy amount of content to be had in each game and as a result the Uncharted TNDC is staggeringly chocka full of stuff. You’ve 3 impressively sized games, each with various difficulty settings, collectibles, unlockables and challenges. I would recommend knocking the difficulty down and enjoying the games and their spectacle for the first time around. The combat is not where the enjoyment stems from it’s more a reason to pause and recover between beautiful locations. Exploring to find the majority of hidden treasures is rarely more complicated than checking around an obvious dead end but there are a few challenging extras to dig around for. It’s a good thing every chapter can be selected separately after completion but Uncharted TNDC is best avoided if you can’t handle not having 100% of everything in every game, unless you’ve a few weeks spare.

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The most surprising aspect of Uncharted TNDC for me was how enjoyable the stories ended up being. There’s no seriously deep or complicated plot to any of the games; Drake and Co are after an old thing, Villain wants the old thing, old thing turns out to be dangerous as hell, Drake stops Villain and carries on. Despite the simple stories each script and all of the writing in every game is top tier stuff. There are some great Marvel film level zingers throughout and they are delivered by its voice actors with pinpoint accuracy. Sullivan becomes a fantastic companion character, Elena is fantastic, Drake himself evolves as a character to be more than just his hair and it’s no of no surprise that Chloe got a spin off title with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy on the PS4. It’s not the whole story but the path along the way that is lined with gold.

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Uncharted TNDC has popped onto PSN Plus but I had the game before that and it took quarantine and a need to see something different to finally get around to finishing it. I’m very glad that I did. Uncharted 1 really is a lot better when you crank the difficulty down so the spongy enemies are just a pause between amazing scenic moments. Uncharted 3 has enough interestingly created areas and familiar faces to overlook the generic enemies and horrible spiders. Uncharted 2 is just a piece of gaming greatness though and worth the collection alone. Fantastic level design, action and a really good heart throughout. It truly is the diamond in the rough.

7/10 – Uncharted territory but a diamond lies within

Also this puzzle is infuriating…


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