Uncharted The Nathan Drake Collection a review

Uncharted The Nathan Drake Collection a review

Uncharted was always one of those franchises I straight up never understood the appeal of. It just seemed to me the most generic, focus tested, boiler plate franchise starring the most generic, focus tested, boiler plate protagonist of them all: Nathan Drake, a would be archeologist who more than once gets way in over his head while searching for a mysterious artifact all while cracking wise with his sidekick, Victor “Sully” Sullivan and romantic interest, but also strong and independent but not too independent because god forbid we make a game with a female protagonist, Elena Fisher, aspiring journalist. Of course, said artifact is also being sought out by a rival and nefarious villain and it’s not before long before Nathan discovers the artifact is cursed and better off destroyed.

So, of course the franchise would not only make millions of dollars but also make one last installment on the Playstation 4, the upcoming Uncharted: A Thief’s End.

It’s not even the gaming snob/ bleeding heart liberal in me that finds it hard to see the appeal of the Uncharted franchise. Yeah, Nathan’s whiter than Wonder Bread, straighter than an arrow and could’ve been factory produced given how he and the numerous other (sing the song if you know the words, readers) white, male, cisgender, heterosexual protagonist who kills hundreds if not thousands of brown henchmen dominating video games, but that’s not the deal breaker for me. Even, the angry, introvert, inner 13 year old inside of me is having trouble seeing the why everyone loves this character so much. I mean, speaking as someone who was and occasionally is an angry teenager, I can tell you why I would like ‘problematic’ characters like Kratos, Marcus Fenix, and even Hatred’s The Crusader. But even as someone looking for a male power fantasy, Uncharted just seems… bland and generic. It’s as if they took 1 part Indiana Jones, 2 parts National Treasure, added cover based shooter with quick time events and Assassin’s Creed’s platforming, blended them together to make the most safe puree of “been there, done that”.

I mean, I grew up with a Playstation 1 and 2 and remember when Naughty Dog was on top of the world. We had Crash Bandicoot, a wacky apple eating mascot wanting to take Nintendo down. We had Jak and Daxter, a boy with yellow greenish hair with his buddy who got transformed into a funny animal sidekick. Yeah, even when Jak and Daxter went from family friendly to more Mad Max, it still had a creative and visual energy that seems to be missing here. We went from that to Nathan Drake?

Enough of me yelling at the cloud; Here’s a review of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake collection.

We begin with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune where we see Nathan Drake attempt to find the lost El Dorado. Having never seen the 2000 animated film by Dreamworks, he uncovers clue after clue leading him closer to the mystery of El Dorado. The beats are there: shoot-outs and set pieces, awkward flirting with the opposite gender, the betrayal and each new villain more disposable and impersonal than the last. The game sets up the formula the series would follow: part cover based shooter, part platform game on ruined landscape a la Assassin’s Creed and part puzzle solving. And when I say puzzle solving, I mean reading your very convenient journal which flat out tells you the answer.

The Platforming is at times wonderful and other times frustrating. Part of the ‘charm’ is having Drake traverse backgrounds that are part of the in game engine. Wonderful at first, until you’re unable to distinguish between what’s climbable and what’s part of the background, and thus fall to your death again and again and again. Heck, you can even miss a jump and Nathan will fall 10 feet and suddenly die!

Then, there’s the cover based shooting. I don’t know when exactly I got sick between cover based shooting, but somewhere between Drake’s Fortune and Drake’s Deception, I began hallucinating and seeing chest high walls everywhere. The gun variety is limited in the first game and the enemies seem to repeat themselves over and over again until the last 10th of the game when monsters start showing up. And the infamous ‘bullet sponge’ enemies appear. Look, I don’t care how much body armor an opponent wears, if I shoot them in the head, basic physics dictates they should drop like flies. Just the same, I don’t see how killing a foe with my pea shooter pistol would send them flying 5 feet into the air.

I finished it in 6 hours. Short and to the point, which is fine by me.

The 2nd Uncharted game, Honor Among Thieves, involves Drake finding the lost city of Shangri-La, alongside treasure hunters Harry Flynn and Chloe Frazer. (Fun fact: Harry Flynn is voiced by Steve Valentine and Chloe is voiced by Claudia Black when the game was originally released in October of 2009. The two would also appear in a game released one month later called Dragon Age: Origins with Valentine voicing Alistair and Chloe voicing Morrigan). As Nathan is betrayed by Flynn, he learns more about Shangri-La’s secret as well as meeting Harry’s new partner, the psychotic Lazarevic, a gun for hire seeking, what else, power that made previous dictators such as Genghis Khan and Hitler so powerful. Big surprise: the item they were seeking is cursed, Nathan has to destroy it and said boss and save the world. And, of course, enemy variety doesn’t change until the last 10th of the game.

I like this story a little better than Uncharted 1 (note I said ‘a little better’) as Harry feels like a more personal villain to Drake rather than the literally and figuratively disposable villain of Eddy Raja, but I’m not sure why I should side with Drake other than perspective. Remember, we learned that he and Chloe were willfully omitting Marco Polo’s treasure from Harry to begin with so I don’t see why Nathan is relatable in that scenario when he and Harry could be so interchangeable. Just the same, I like how they’re trying to make Nathan act more of a hero (there’s a part where he must escort Elena’s cameraman whose wounded through a battlefield), but I don’t understand why he’s acting all good and heroic. Elena, I understand because she’s a humanitarian, but why is Nathan suddenly being a goody good? He clearly had no problem stealing and/or killing guards previously, why does he care now?

Also, this seems to be an odd place for Nathan to start developing skepticism in what’s he’s seeing and what Shangri-La holds when in the previous game, he literally saw a man transform into a monster after inhaling some dust. You’d think he’d be just a little more open minded about the mystical after witnessing it first hand.

There’s also some stupid love triangle business with Nathan’s old flame Elena and new girl, the Australian Chloe Frazer. Yes, you’ll forgive me if I could care less whether Drake will get with Hot Girl A or Hot Girl B. It’s not that Emily Rose and Claudia Black don’t infuse as much personality and depth that could be wrung out into their rules (which is a lot thanks to their superb voice acting skills), it’s that I don’t see why I would be emotionally invested in this cliché plotline starring Indiana Jones 2.0 here. For all I know, Elena and Chloe have more than enough reason to dump his snarky ass.

Some new weapons and new melee combat system, but I wasn’t impressed. Yeah, climb all the dangling trains off of cliffs all you want; I’m still not invested. I finished it in 8 and a half hours.

The 3rd Uncharted game, Drake’s Deception was really the first time I started to give a minor of a toss about Nathan, and that’s because the game actually goes into Nathan’s backstory and origins, showing him as a young street urchin trying to make it big. You know, those things that are really helpful when you’re trying to engage with the character? After playing through that sequence a part of me went “Wow. That puts Nathan in a totally different and slightly relatable light. Why didn’t you put that in your series sooner?”

The part I also like is that it’s starting to develop Nathan and Sully’s relationship. Too often we see the tacked on romance with him and Elena, but seeing a student and older mentor is something of a rarity. I think the reason why focusing on this works so well is because Nolan North and Richard McGonagle have such great chemistry together and  Nate having a father figure seems to have more in terms of depth. Naughty Dog also tries to address the whole ‘race problem’ (i.e. Doesn’t it look icky that this white guy is mowing down lots of brown people?) by suggesting that Nathan might be of South American descent. (It’s left ambiguous.).

I also think Katherine Marlowe is a much more personal and effective villain than antagonists from previous installments, and it’s great to see an older woman be in a video game and add a little class to the game. Rosalind Ayres did both the voicework and motion capture and I think it was a great move on Naughty Dog’s part (though unfortunately, she inadvertently ends up the conflating the good equals beauty bad equals ugly trope.)

It’s also the point in the series when the characters start questioning Drake of why is he going to such great lengths to find his lost treasure. At one point, Elena points out that Nathan has beaten his namesake, Francis Drake, in terms of progress and that if Nathan were to stop right now, the villains would not succeed. Rather, because of Nathan’s pride and stubbornness, he puts Sully and the world at stake.

One of the things I liked is how they finally got the melee combat system to look semi-realistic. Combat in previous titles was always repetitive while Uncharted 2 improved it ( a little bit mind you). Uncharted 3 gets the combat right and looks and feels amazing. Add to that the ability to throw back grenades and I was actually starting to (gasp) like the franchise.

It’s not all perfect, though. There’s an extended section in the middle involving a rogue pirate and a flooding ship that seems almost entirely disposable and seems only to be there because Naughty Dog had built set pieces before writing the plot. It almost has nothing to do with the story save one minor detail (which could’ve all been avoided if Drake had asked himself the obvious question: “Wait, what if that guy was lying?”).

I finished it in 8 and a half hours.

One of the big criticisms of the game was the decision to cut out multiplayer from previous titles. Before, players could play the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta with a special code, but I believe the code has expired now (I received the game well after it was over). I wish Sony could’ve put it back in, but I’ll take what I can get.

The Uncharted series, is by no means, ‘bad’. It’s well polished, presented well and handles fine. If you haven’t played the Uncharted series before, this is a good place to start. If you owned it, I’d watch a couple of comparison videos before purchasing, some of the HD rendering looks a little off to me.

Still, I have to wonder how we got here of all places. We went from spinning Bandicoots, wrench throwing Lombaxes, Thieving Raccoons, Purple Dragons, rapping dogs to… some generic guy who wants treasure?

Who knows? Maybe, it’s me.

Verdict: Fans- Buy it!

Non-Fans: Try before you buy.


Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Remastered) 

Platform: PlayStation 4 

US Release Date: October 9, 2015 (as Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection) 

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment 

Genre: Third Person Action Adventure 

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is the third game in the Uncharted series. This entry into the series explores Nathan Drake’s past and follows him as he seeks out a treasure whose location was concealed by Sir Francis Drake. The gameplay is nearly identical to its predecessors, with parts of the game focused on combat and others focused on jumping and scaling areas. There are several new additions to gameplay, most notably the ability to shoot while climbing and being able to return-throw an enemy’s grenade back at them. As with Uncharted 2, this game has more of a focus on the jumping/scaling sections making it noticeably easier the first game.

Combat is handled the same way as previous entries. Nate can take cover behind most objects and carries two guns at a time. As with the second game, there are sections which can be handled with stealth, but it is not required. The climbing/scaling sections are also the same as previous games, but the slight control issues the second game had have been corrected, making these sections more enjoyable.

The graphics are again spectacular, also fixing the slight issue with the second game. The voice acting is also top notch. There are tons of unlockables, giving the game lots of replay value. However, the unlockable weapons in this entry are very weak compared to previous games. Instead of having access to nearly every gun in the game, you are given a very limited selection.

The Good:

  • Fantastic gameplay
  • Excellent story
  • Great graphics
  • Tight controls
  • Top notch voice acting
  • Great replay value
  • Lots of unlockables

The Bad:

  • The unlockable weapons are very limited compared to previous games

Conclusion: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a fantastic game. I could only find a single (extremely minor) complaint. This definitely earns a “Buy It.”

MetalGearWhale Reviews: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Here comes the most biased review ever because I fucking love these games. If someone out there has not played the Uncharted games, getting the collection on ps4 is the best way to do it. While Uncharted: Drakes Fortune looks a little dated now, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception still look pretty game good.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the worst of the 3 games I think, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. Playing it when it first released back in 2007 I thought it was amazing. For me personally it showed me what games can be, and what they were on track of doing. But playing it now it’s not a perfect game, going back to it really shows that Naughty Dog still had some kinks to work out if this was what they wanted to keep on doing.

And boy did they work out those kinks because after that we got Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. What I will say to is a perfect 10, and is still a 10. They improved everything with this one and it blew me away even more so than when I was first introduced to the series.

Following that we get Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. A game that back when I first had beaten it, I thought it was arguable the worst of the 3 main games. But after beating all 3 back to back to back, I can say that’s just not true. While I now think this in an amazing game, it just didn’t live up to it’s predecessor. And to be honest that’s fine, because in my opinion only a handful of games since then have been as good.

While I personally don’t have any beef with any game in this series, the one knock I hear against them the most is that they’re “too cinematic” or have too many cutscenes. While I don’t think they have too many, I can’t argue that they do have a fair amount of them. But that never bothered me. To me this series is about playing an action.

As far as a collection of games go, you can’t do much better than this, but for me the first game in the series feels a little too rough around the edges these days for me to give this collection a perfect score. I’m giving this collection a 9/10