You didn't think that Sony was going to treat its flagship franchise poorly, did you? A lot's been said and written about the PlayStation 4's exclusive lineup this Christmas, but Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is no slouch. The remastered compilation of Naughty Dog's iconic adventuring trilogy looks and plays the part – and is sure to represent the centrepiece in many a gaming buffet this holiday.
So, how does it look? We've played the opening four or so chapters of all three of the titles in the package, and the visuals are much as you remember them. Of course, rose-tinted glasses can do funny things, and 'remember' is the operative word here. The presentation is actually extraordinary: upgraded character models, buffed up textures, and enhanced lighting pair with a crystal clear 1080p resolution and silky smooth 60 frames-per-second performance. It's the Uncharted that you remember – polished to a mirror-like sheen.
That's not to say that the games aren't, in some areas, showing their age. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, the first instalment, has some dated animations which stick out like a sore thumb – especially when compared directly to its technologically superior peers. It's also way more cartoony than the series that we've become accustomed to; Nathan Drake's globe-trotting adventures have always been pulpy romps, but his first outing sits closer to Jak & Daxter than The Last of Us on the realism scale.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, because the writing is still more on point than pretty much every other property that you'll find in the industry today. It's hard not to smile at Drake and Elena's bickering as they bat off pirates attempting to board their boat – ground breaking stuff back in 2007 and still pretty impressive almost a decade later. The shooting in all three titles has been re-tuned to find an optimum balance, and while it's still not as tight control wise as a Vanquish, it definitely does feel responsive on the DualShock 4.
The start to Drake's Fortune is slow by the series' standards, though, and a leap of faith across to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves accentuates this. The iconic opening scene – which sees Drake escaping from a collapsing train – is still a stunning piece of game design today; the manner in which it guides you via environmental details is subtle yet expertly executed. But it's the pacing – which hops between the said collapsed carriage and a heist in Istanbul – which represents Naughty Dog's Midas touch. In short: it's still brilliant.
We should stress that you can toggle between all three games using a new option on each title's main menu, and the loading is practically non-existent when you switch. Bluepoint Games – the team behind the brilliant God of War and Shadow of the Colossus remasters – has been tasked with converting the titles to the PS4, and it's clear that it's been given ample budget to do the job properly. Even taking into account the absence of multiplayer, the whole package reeks of quality – and we've been asked not to discuss some of the very welcome extras at this time.
Speaking of which, it was the lack of bonuses in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception that led to complaints about the rushed nature of the release when it deployed all the way back in 2011. Despite it lacking the pedigree of its predecessor, though, it still packs some of the series' most memorable moments. The most notable of these is an early game strut through the streets of London, as Drake and Sully engage in a spot of Eastenders-esque barroom brawling. Sadly, there's no Peggy Mitchell here to scream those famous five words – just a Helen Mirren look-a-like.
As you'd expect, the third game is definitely the best presented of the three, with some sequences indistinguishable from a native new-gen release. You'll be able to capture all of these moments on camera using the new photo mode, which we assume that we're not breaking our embargo terms by mentioning. This allows you to frame the action in any way that you see fit, while you can add post-processing effects for that extra bit of pretty if you wish. Every image that you see in this article was captured in-game using the handy tool.
At the time of writing, we're only a few hours into each title, but we've played enough Uncharted to know that this collection is going to be something special. We'll dig into some of the finer details in our forthcoming review, but know that these remasters have been treated with the appropriate care and attention – exactly as you'd expect considering that this is currently Sony's most important property. If you've never played Uncharted before, then brace yourself for some of the best action adventure games ever made. And if you have – well, prepare to fall in love all over again.
Will you be searching out Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection a little later this year, or have you had enough of knee-high cover to last you a lifetime? X marks the spot in the comments section below.