Back in the fall of 2015 I played and reviewed Uncharted 1 & 2 from the Nathan Drake Collection (Uncharted 1 & 2 Review). The Nathan Drake Collection was my first experience with Naughty Dog’s flagship adventurer and while I did enjoy the games I ultimately didn’t think have the Uncharted game of greatness experience that has become synonymous with the name. In short, my issues were with the puzzles, pacing, and the story not living up to the Last of Us’ narrative that I had already experienced prior to my play-through. A problem with reviewing a game outside of the environment it was released in.

It wouldn’t be until spring of 2016 when I would make my conclusive return to the Nathan Drake Collection and experience the third chapter of Nathan Drake’s tale. But I am really glad I decided to return.

Arguments For

  • Supporting characters add more to the narrative than in previous installments. One scene in particular (see the video for a snippet) between Drake and Elena finally tugged at the heart and got me invested in their outcome.
  • Overall narrative feels more clever during the 3rd go around with the Uncharted gang.
  • Pacing between set pieces and gameplay definitely is more tight and flow together without long lulls. It’s not often that a 12 hour campaign can go by quickly, but that’s how Uncharted felt to me as I played through the campaign.
  • Puzzles provide interesting challenge but overall tie more into the story without pulling the player out of the experience.
  • Visuals, for the first time in the Nathan Drake Collection, feel on par with the Last of Us Remastered. More diverse environments, locations, and detail really bring the environment to life and keep the player intrigued with what’s around the next corner.
  • The gameplay, especially as it relates to camera movement and hand to hand combat, feels best in series. To be expected sure, but still should be commended for its major improvement.
  • The use of hallucinogenics over another major supernatural  {monster X magic} idea felt fresh and really grounds the game without that cop out feeling.
  • Katherine Marlowe, the game’s main antagonist, is by far the best in the trilogy. She represents a clever and equal to Drake slyness and knowledge.
  • The Chateau / French Castle became one of my favorite locations in a video game of all time and really provides an early look into what might have inspired the Last of Us visuals.
  • The entire plane sequence.

 

Arguments Against

  • I still experienced some falling through the world, cover mechanics not working, and other random glitches during my play through. While not necessarily a slight to take away from the game, one would hope that a remaster would fix most of these issues.
  • There’s still a lot of bullet sponges and levels featuring countless enemies. I would rather see fewer enemies that offer more of a challenge than a constant rotation of the same thugs.
  • Chapters 13-15 (the naval yard & ship chapters) did begin to feel like padding during my playthrough and barely moved the narrative forward.
  • Overall the plot didn’t feel like it had major impact to the characters journey.
    • This is a game that focuses more on the characters building a relationship together than what they’re actually trying to accomplish. So I would even consider this neither a pro or a con, more of a trade off, one for the other.

VALUE

At a 59.99 retail release, The Nathan Drake Collection provides a great narrative based action game in the realm of the Tomb Raiders, Zelda’s, and Batman’s. When compared to these games, the Collection represents a great value as a 3 games priced for one. However, many action / adventure series such as a Batman or an Assassins Creed have adopted open world exploration environments that allow more freedom for the user and extends the replay ability. The Nathan Drake Collection without any multiplayer support offers little replay value.

SCORE

This is more of what I had in mind when I decided to jump into the history of the developer that brought me the Last of Us. Uncharted 3 showcases the narrative that was missing in my time with Uncharted 1 & 2. There’s significantly more investment into the characters and their relationships in Drake’s Deception than in the two previous titles. These story arc’s mean more when they’re combined with the incredibly better pacing and more intense action sequences. Uncharted 3 in my opinion is the best in the trilogy and makes the Nathan Drake Collection more of a must own than the first two in the series.

Score