Nathan Drake polished

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
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The DNA of an excellent video game developer, often and willingly, manages to define it from the very first productions. And starting from these, the evolution can only be constant and improving over time, adapting to new players, videogame directions and making the most of the technological means available. Just like in the case of Naughty Dog, which entered the hearts of all PlayStation owners practically immediately thanks to Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, and then constantly reinforces this bond within which quality has rarely dropped below guard levels.



The arrival of PlayStation 3 has imposed new aims and possibilities on the Californian developer, which materialized in 2007 with the Uncharted saga: the team was very fond of Indiana Jones films, in particular of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it was therefore natural to think of a production that would resume its strings, with all the differences of the case due to the use of the videogame medium. And so this new saga, in the chapters that appeared two years apart, started exactly from these assumptions, quickly climbing positions and becoming a backbone of the Sony monolith, as well as a simply excellent trilogy seasoned with humor, action, fun and a technical sector often able to excel among the productions present at the time. The fourth episode coming to PlayStation 4 next year promises sparks and will (hopefully) be the worthy conclusion to the series; at the same time Naughty Dog has already created space for a further evolutionary piece with The Last of Us. These considerations, however, are a topic for a different study: the remastering work done to create this collection, operated by Bluepoint Games, is truly excellent, as you can learn in the next paragraphs.



We tried Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection on PlayStation 4 and here's our verdict

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

"Every great adventure has a beginning, but it is the way to go, the one that leads to its end, which holds true glory": with this quote from Sir Francis Drake, dated 1587, the title that inaugurated this successful saga begins. We are in 2007 on PlayStation 3, eight years ago, with the title of Naughty Dog which introduces the character of Nathan Drake to the general public and an action and adventure video game that makes extensive use of the camera to offer the best glimpse, of brilliant dialogues between the main protagonists and a light-hearted and fun style. From the opening scene on the boat with Elena Fisher, an assault reporter looking for a story for her network, to the legendary Victor Sullivan, whose original encounter with Nate will be shown in the third chapter. An adventure that follows all the clichés of the genre, in which the search for treasure is interrupted by unexpected, puzzles to be solved by shootings with a few fist fights.

And then jeep chases, submerged cities, motorboat escapes, a series of evocative and graphically inspired settings, supported by an excellent artistic level; the Colombian forest in El Dorado, with its lush greenery and the ability to move the plants as the main protagonist passes by. The shooter dynamics are the classic ones of third-person titles, with the possibility of hooking to the covers (by means of a circle), shooting from the protrusions, using two types of weapons at the same time from a wider range, throwing the inevitable grenades. Performing in melee, with a couple of combos related to the repeated use of the square key alternated if necessary by the triangle. The shady figures Navarro and Roman try several times to anticipate Drake and create many headaches for him, but in full American blockbuster style it will be the latter that prevails, from a certain point of view, following a progression that in the last part of the game actually ends up a bit in "caciara" with the introduction of paranormal events that are not very credible, above all the game does not deepen some mechanics and could have lasted a few more hours. Net of these defects, the Naughty Dog game was widely appreciated by critics and the public, revealing itself to be a fresh and fun third-person shooter, the fundamental basis for building that great jewel that turned out to be the second chapter. Drake's Fortune, however, is the title of the trilogy that has benefited most from the remastering work, if only because it is the one furthest behind from a technological point of view. Beyond the increased resolution to 1080p and a fluidity the vast majority of the time anchored to sixty frames per second, we have improved character models, the complete elimination of screen tearing (the classic effect that splits the screen in two, boring the original), the absence of important aliasing, the introduction of different particle effects, better detail regarding objects in the distance.



Depth of field is also present, a typically photographic effect introduced with enormous benefits in subsequent chapters, with the possibility of blocking the focus on objects or in conjunction with scenarios. All these changes result in an enjoyable adventure and even eight years later, which is combined with some changes to the control system aimed at making the game enjoyable. Aim and shoot are now associated with the rear triggers of the DualShock 4, which does not suffer from the grip and travel problems of its predecessor; the response to commands is immediate thanks to the sixty frames per second, and the grenade launch animation has been revised, the release of which is delegated to the L1 bumper. In our view, superfluous elements have also been eliminated, such as the support for the motion sensor that was used to keep Nate in balance as he passed, for example on a slippery trunk. Obviously Drake's Fortune is the title that shows more the weight of the years with less detailed textures or explosions always the same as a comic, but the all-round work carried out on this episode manages to put perfectly at ease in playing this trilogy in sequence. , getting acquainted with the mechanics of the series then literally exploded in the sequel.

Uncharted 2: Lair of Thieves

"I have not even told half of what I have done and seen in my travels, because I knew I would not be believed": this time it is a quote from Marco Polo that opens the dance of the title Naughty Dog; whereas the first chapter was a tasty appetizer that introduced the series to the general public, Il Covo dei Ladri was the immediate and definitive consecration. An exceptional title that has moved up the technological bar of console productions, which has taken and enhanced the elements of spectacle and gameplay of the first chapter to raise them to a new level.



The initial cliffhanger on the snow is not only spectacular and fun to play, but it finally restores dignity to an atmospheric element often hated in video games because it was made poorly and with less care; in Uncharted 2 the particles, the soft shadows left on the snow, the explosions, the general impact make these white flecks look in a new light. Moreover, this beginning only serves as a prelude to an extremely perfected formula by the developer, with memorable moments like those of the helicopter., who chases Nathan Drake far and wide, the sequence aboard a moving train, simply incredible, a transition between intermission sequences and almost imperceptible gameplay, which set the standards for subsequent productions in order to make the video games more and more of extremely interactive, enjoyable and spectacular films. Small changes have also been introduced regarding the gameplay, such as a greater capacity for weapons, new possibilities for grenades (including aiming and fast release with L2 + L1) and an evolved melee, which now with the triangle button allows you to avoid opposing counterattacks. A crescendo of emotions up to the lost city of Shambala - memorable in the sequence in the water during a storm - with the only small flaw represented from our point of view by the bad guy on duty, Lazarevic, charismatic up to a certain point and certainly not inspired in the fights that see him as an antagonist. Other small improvements resided in the collection of treasures that do not interrupt the action and an even more arrembante and fluid progression between the various components.

The Den of Thieves also saw the introduction of an interesting competitive multiplayer, with a not too frenetic pace and able to take advantage of the vertical extension of the maps, and an online cooperative version with some sections of the story or the classic horde mode . Multiplayer which, however, is not present in this remaster, but we will return to it in a couple of paragraphs. Uncharted 2 was acclaimed by critics and the public, it won the game of the year also on these pages and is in our view the most representative title of the trilogy, an essential exponent of third-person shooters able to amuse, surprise, involve for its entire duration. As said graphically at the time it was sensational, not only for the technical solutions adopted, but also for the enormous and inspired variety in artistic terms, with each detailed setting and textures shot to a thousand to enhance the objects up close and those in the distance. The protagonist forest this time was that of Borneo, darker than that of the first chapter, but even more impressive. For this version, the work done by Bluepoint was easier: the only increased resolution and doubled fluidity allow to have a better and cleaner image definition together with a perfect response to the commands, but in reality even here we have particle effects and improved explosions, higher quality textures, distant models of objects and enemies with more polygons. Net of uninspired enemies as an artistic and polygonal achievement, Uncharted 2 remains a master title even in 2015: as gameplay it has aged quite well and if we only take into consideration the visual variety and attention to detail, it is able to give the still runs to several contemporary productions.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

"All men dream: but not in the same way. Those who dream at night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake up in the day to discover the vanity of those images: but those who dream by day are dangerous men, because they can put their daydreams into practice, to make them possible ": the quote from Thomas Edward Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, ushers in the third installment of the Uncharted series, which in its James Bond-like beginning begins in a London pub where Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan punch a few people.

The melee sees the introduction of the circle to throw opponents into the distance and perhaps use objects to stun them, or even to compete for an even match; it is also possible to hit the enemies from above in flight with the square and the animations are further improved, especially when Nathan Drake touches objects or walls, interposing his hand to give a greater touch of credibility. From a technological point of view, Drake's deception restores dignity to the desert, instead, with a simply exceptional impact and even more refined than the previous title, albeit with a gap not comparable to what had been between the first two. It shares with the other chapters a small technical defect when Drake uses the flashlight, with the beam of light that instead of following the positioning of the latter, is always projected in front of the camera: a poetic license operated by Naughty Dog perhaps to make it easier to exploration in the dark. The protagonist forest is that of Eastern France, luxuriant, luxuriant and detailed, the bad guys on duty belong to the past of Nate and Sully, with a parenthesis that delves into the past of the two protagonists shortly after the start of the game.

Finally, the music sector offers rearranged and some unreleased songs, for a soundtrack perfectly suited to the visual part., very catchy and certainly of quality, thanks to the notes created by Greg Edmonson. Uncharted 3 keeps the standards of the series high, improving even more from a technical point of view, but it probably is not comparable to the second episode, especially for a less memorable adventure progression and for a shooter part that is perhaps too unbalanced. It remains a master game, mind you, and even the multiplayer has had good success with the addition of new maps and the enhancement of the cooperative part, including a mini adventure to be faced in several people and consisting of five levels. The enhancement work is similar to that carried out on the second chapter, as the base is very valid and dated 2011: greater definition, fluidity close to perfection, almost complete absence of aliasing, better quality of distant objects and particle effects, for an excellent impact in 2015 that highlights the good things created by Naughty Dog with the original title.

PlayStation 4 Trophies

Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection offers three sets of trophies and three sets of platinum, a little more complex to obtain than the original titles because they are also linked to the Speedrun mode and the new difficulty level. Between old and new there are those related to the killing of enemies with each weapon, to the simultaneous elimination with the grenade, to a sequence of shots to the head. Good fun!

La Collection in toto

In the previous paragraphs we talked about each title of this Collection in detail, and the innovations brought by the version on PlayStation 4; the complete package has further additions and thanks to a great work of painstaking optimization it manages to be "contained" on a single Blu-ray disc. Let's start with the only defect, more or less important depending on the attitude of the people: The Nathan Drake Collection does not have multiplayer within the second and third chapter, by precise choice and we add us for technical difficulties in separating it or joining it to the one still active within the corresponding original titles. Let it be clear that this trilogy has become famous certainly not for this modality but for the main campaign and the technological sector; it is right, however, to point out this lack which would have returned an even more complete package.

That said, from the main selection menu you can choose one of the three available chapters, while you can go back simply by pressing R1 without having to exit the dashboard. The "Destructive" difficulty is immediately available for selection, while a new level called "Brutal" has been added, in which it only takes a couple of hits to die, if not one, and the enemies are much more tough and aggressive. Precisely in relation to the challenge, historically never too high, it is possible to face the story in Explorer mode, that is, facing enemies that are really simple to eliminate and focusing on the progression of the plot. For all "Pelé" it is possible to select the Speedrun mode instead of the classic Campaign: a counter will always be visible on the top right, indicating the completion time of the current chapter and the overall one, in order to put yourself to the test and compare your score with that of your friends. In this regard, moreover, it is also possible to compare every single item of the statistics present, from the number of kills to how many times a certain weapon has been used, passing through the number of shots to the head to much more: this addition is quite interesting. in terms of replayability and to try to improve. There is no shortage of other extras such as hidden treasures to collect, sketches, character skins, filters to apply while playing; within the menus it is also possible to select the audio and subtitles independently, including Spanish in both cases. The options relating to the audio sector are also very good, with the possibility of selecting the output in 7.1 and voices for the granular selection of the sound band. Last but not least the photographic mode, which can be activated with the digital cross downwards: before taking a photo, you can apply some filters, the grain according to different intensity, the depth of field and operate on the camera, in a similar way to what is seen in God of War III and The Last of Us in Remastered version. We must say that we did not particularly like the result with active filters; we often preferred to take snapshots directly as we played, for a more visually pleasing result.

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Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a reissue on PlayStation 4 of the simply excellent Naughty Dog trilogy, which has benefited from an excellent restoration work especially as regards the first chapter, and which offers a series of adventures on the current Sony console / third person shooter still enjoyable and fun, led by the fantastic second chapter. The absence of multiplayer is the only flaw of a package that is in any case essential for those who have not tried the original titles, to be taken into consideration even for those who loved the series, and want to warm up the engines again while waiting for the original. and potentially sensational fourth chapter.

PRO

  • Great work of technological enhancement, especially as regards the first chapter
  • Three titles for the price of one, with the second outstanding, aged very well
  • New modes that push you to replay them even if you have tried the originals ...
AGAINST
  • ... but not enough to buy them back in this case, unless you're a big fan of the series
  • There is no multiplayer within the second and third chapter
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