REVIEW – „I WANT A PS3!” That was my first reaction, when I have seen an E3 gameplay footage from the very first Uncharted, back in 2006. Being of a fan of the genre, I was still tired of the old Tomb Raider series, and the Indiana Jones games were rather tired rehash of the same formula. Uncharted was something between, with a brand new hero, cinematic cut scenes and top notch action-adventure gameplay. The next two episodes only upped the ante, and the trilogy is by far the best third person shooter series ever, which graced any consoles of the old generation. Still, how the games fare by today’s standards?
“Remasterstation” might be an evil nickname for PlayStation 4 lately, but still you can’t argue that one of the most essential game series is still the Uncharted trilogy on PlayStation and if you skipped it on the PS3, there’s simply no excuse to miss again on the PS4. Or is it? What novelty the remaster of this old series can bring us, for those, who played it already on PS3, or for those, who never had the chances to experience the adventures of Nathan Drake?
Three times the charm
As I a described a bit in the lead with my very own perception of the first Uncharted, it was perhaps the first “killer app” on the PlayStation 3, after almost a year of tepid launch titles. Neither the gameplay, the story, nor the setting were revolutionary: it borrowed a lot from Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones and the Micheal Douglas movie: Romancing the Stone. Still it managed to mix those elements so well, – with some awesome graphics added, which surpassed even those on PC at this era – that it became an instant classic, the day it was in stores and also a system seller.
Still, the second game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves managed to surpass the first one in every aspect, and it is still one of the best TPS action-adventures ever. Kicking off with a dramatic sequence, where a wounded Drake has first to climb on top of a train car hanging in a ravine, and fighting his way through die-hard gun fights on the snowy top of a mountain in Nepal, Uncharted 2 has one of the best starts ever in gaming history, and it remains a spectacular, cinematic action-adventure through the whole game.
The final chapter in the Uncharted trilogy, Drake’s deception sees our explorer foregoing the temples and jungles of old in favor of sprawling deserts. Searching for the Atlantis of the Sands, Drake treks into the Arabian desert and finds himself pitted against a clandestine organization, again having to fend for himself as he locates treasure.
The most cinematic of the trilogy, Drake’s Deceptionboasts the most mature storyline and features a great antagonist in Katherine Marlowe. There’s some slow segments, but the sheer scale and incredible sequences like fighting out of the back of a cargo plane more than make up for them.
Alright, so after this quick PlayStation “history lesson” (or recap, for those, who knows the series quite well) let’s see, what’s this Collection remaster is proposing to us. 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 excellent 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 are so top notch that it actually surpasses everything that the PS4 had to offer so far!
Bluepoint didn’t stop there though. There are a few updated models and improved level geometry here and there. Some textures have even been redone and lighting effects received a bump. Perhaps, the most surprising upgrade was Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, which seems to have been almost remade to bring it further in line with Uncharted 2 and 3. The overall game feels faster and more responsive than the PlayStation 3 original. While it’s still not up to par with its sequels, it still makes the experience far better than it was before.
Perhaps the only hiccup is present is in the cut scenes, which were not remade and they are a stark contrast to the rest of the graphical fidelity of the game.
Some bonus content
Besides the basic games, there are some bonus content added as well. 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.
Still a blast to play
While the gameplay of the (still excellent) first game aged a bit regarding the too numerous shooting sequences, and some repetitive platforming sections, the other two games are still a blast to play even by today’s standard. Yes, the Tomb Raider reboot might have refined the many mindless “go into an area, take cover, shoot all of the enemies, find the way out and repeat” segments, which were the characteristic of the Uncharted games, still, the level design, story, pacing, scale, and the cinematic experience makes up for almost everything, that the TPS genre brought us the last Uncharted title.
Whether modern open world, persistant games, like GTA V, Shadow of Mordor, Batman: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain or the last Assassin’s Creed surpass the linear shooters or not is up to debate, but what’s certain, that the three Uncharted games are true kings in the latter genre, and age didn’t change that fact much. The added graphical facelift of to all three games in the package makes this collection a true king in the realm of PlayStation games.
+ Beautiful graphics, excellent facelift
+ All three games in one package
+ Still one of the best TPS games
– Cut scenes are outdated
– Some models stayed outdated as well
– The first Uncharted is a bit repetitive
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertaiment
Developer: Bluepoint Games, Naughty Dog
Genres: Action, adventure, TPS,
Publication: September 30, 2015