The Beginnings of Adventure!
The Nathan Drake Collection PS4: October 9, 2015
Original PS3: November 19, 2007
Developer: Bluepoint Games (Remaster), Naughty Dog (Original)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform I Played On: PS4
Platform(s) Available On: PlayStation 4 (Remaster), PlayStation 3 (Original)
Genre(s): Action, Adventure
Difficultly I Played On: Normal
Version I Played: The Nathan Drake Collection
Taken from Official Site
Uncharted™: Drake’s Fortune Remastered (playstation.com)
Jump into the perilous journey that kick-started the legendary escapades of Nathan Drake. Hunt for the lost treasure of El Dorado, with the help of courageous journalist Elena Fisher and Drake’s mentor and friend Victor “Sully” Sullivan.
Enjoy peerless storytelling from the team at Naughty Dog, as you race to discover the fabled city of gold before your ruthless enemies.
Experience the classic PlayStation®3 adventure that redefined the genre, now on PlayStation®4.
Why You Should Play: The Short Version
>> Similar to Indiana Jones
>> Great characters
>> Linear story game
>> Locales amazing throughout game
Beware there are some minor spoilers for the story portions of the game. I have indicated the start and finish of the spoiler content via two orange ribbons. Other than the actual spoiler content there may be minor spoilers below depending on one’s qualification of a spoiler. Read at your own risk. In my opinion, this review should not spoil any new player’s experience with the game, especially if you skip the small spoiler section~
Disclaimer: This is my HOBBY blog with my own opinions, please take that into consideration~
Recently I decided to haul out my PS4 and give some of the games I had never played or completed a go. Ironically my first introduction to the Uncharted series was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and I loved it! Eventually I bought The Nathan Drake collection because I knew I was missing out on a few great games but I ended up not immediately playing them. So on a whim, at long last, I binge played Uncharted, Uncharted 2, and Uncharted 3, and replayed Uncharted 4. Like my first experience with Uncharted 4, I once again had a blast playing the earlier Uncharted games.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune starts off with Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher on a boat with a recently discovered coffin unearthed from the ocean. It contains a dairy of the famous explorer Francis Drake, one of Nathan Drake’s explorer heroes and proclaimed descendent. Upon examination of the diary Nathan discovers it contains contents describing the infamous lost city of gold, El Dorado.
These events set Nathan and his friend, mentor, and business partner of sorts, Victor “Sully” Sullivan on an adventure tracking down the clues in the Diary in various locations of South America. Needless to say, in any good adventure there is an arch nemesis who also wants to find El Dorado and sets Nathan’s course differently than expected. From here on out the story continues with various escapades and locales primarily featuring remnants of objects and structures of Spanish colonies and explorers.
I enjoyed most aspects of the story and the pacing was appropriate. From my experience with Uncharted 4, I really liked how they took a linear story approach. It maintained my interest from the beginning to end. There are twists and turns along the way that make what was once a simple mission into a multifaceted story.
Like any grand adventure story there are a few conveniences that propel the plot forward. For example, having super convenient images that allow Nate and crew to continue on in their journey that just happen to lead the way. Could this happen in real life? Possibly. Would it be that easy? Probably not. This element of convenience is not uncommon in the adventure genre in any medium because there needs to be that piece of information or convenient stumble that propels the way forward. I think they utilize these convenient plot devices reasonably, so it doesn’t feel over the top or unrealistic.
I have always loved the Indiana Jones movies and Uncharted feels similar to the adventure formula revitalized by the Indiana Jones films. We have an object, there are nefarious villains also after it, and we must stop the villains from obtaining the object because said object shouldn’t be in the hands of most people, especially those darn villains. The basic plot is not complicated but is executed in an entertaining and intricate manner.
Apart from the story, we the player, are able to experience a wide range of locales. I really like how the game combines nature areas alongside ruins or other structures. It was really cool to imagine certain areas when it was an actual functional place instead being its current dilapidated structure. In terms of structures, the story brings you to some expected and some unexpected locations. Every Uncharted game always surprises me in terms of the areas we experience as Nate. The unexpected ones were quite cool and I enjoyed the variety of places and how they were woven into the story.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this game and thought it embodied a good adventure story. It had the mysterious artifacts and locales with the classic adventure genre villain after money and power (which happen to align with Nate’s current interests, El Dorado). My inner Indiana Jones instincts loved playing a game that at its core had the adventure spirit. My enjoyment of the game felt the same as when I first played Uncharted 4 a few years ago so there appears to be a strong identity and consistency to the Uncharted series as a whole!
There are spoilers that are reveled in the middle of the plot ahead. To skip just scroll until you see another orange ribbon or scroll or click here to jump to the next section The Characters~
Now one of my main criticisms of this game is the supernatural elements in the game. The humanoid creatures that we discover on the island made a good portion of the game feel like a horror game instead of an adventure one. I am a big chicken and don’t like to play horror games and humanoid monsters running from behind corners in dark passages is really not my thing.
I understand plot wise why they are there, but I secretly wish there has been less portions with them because at some points I felt distracted and turned into chicken mode being paranoid something was going to pop out or attack me. To elevate my chicken mode was that they were humanoid and in dark passages, I didn’t have any trouble playing through these portions I just didn’t enjoy them. It took me out of the adventure spirit.
What bothers me too is that there is seemingly no closure involving the humanoid creatures. I may have missed something but are they all left on the island or did the events in the end make them go loony. Also do these creatures have an immortal lifespan unless mortally wounded? I get that these creatures are in a secluded island but it would have been nice to see them finally be at rest and no longer dictated by the curse.
I will say the one part I liked about the creatures is when one of the villains experiences the beginning stages of the transformation. It reminded me of the first Indiana Jones movies when the Arc of the Covenant is opened and the villains get what they deserved for messing with something clearly not meant for the commons man’s reach or scope of knowledge.
That concludes my mini rant and thoughts concerning those spoilers~ Or even as a warning for others who can be chicken such as myself 😂
Great Supporting Characters // Well-crafted Dialogue & Banter // Classic Adventure Villains
It has been a while since I actively enjoyed many characters in a video game. Drake’s Fortune does a great job at depicting somewhat normal characters and personalities. The banter and overall dialogue between Nate and the other characters is great and feels realistic. There is never mean-spirited dialogue but minor cajoles and humorous comments throughout the story.
Being that the story is from 2007 I can see some of the comments not being politically correct for some people. I honestly didn’t mind these. I really liked that the banter could have been realistic banter amongst friends and acquaintances and not designed to portray perfect characters for the players. I really think that the dialogue and banters are one of the strengths of the game and hope that people realize that the game was made in 2007 in a time of less worry of how fictitious characters in a video game would be perceived.
The villains are fairly straightforward and are simply there and have implied relations to Nate or Sully. Other than that, their motives are pretty simple in that we have to stop them from their greed and lack of understanding ancient artifacts. I really don’t think the villains in this game needed any further explanation. Some stories are fine with a good old-fashioned villain and Drake’s Fortune does it appropriately.
Elena is a reporter who is after a story and is in the beginning of the game filming a story about treasure hunting for a TV show. Being a reporter, I can understand both Nate and Sully’s skepticism towards her. Throughout the story she proves that she is more than just a reporter and has a moral compass that aligns with both Nate and Sully.
I love Elena as a character. I think she is a prime example of how to write women characters in how realistic her dialogue and actions are. She’s smart, can dish and take commentary, and knows her limits both physically and mentally. There is one moment where she knows she cannot make a jump and tells Nate to go ahead. I thought this was so realistic because she is smaller than Drake and wouldn’t be able to make all the crazy jumps he can do.
Victor “Sully” Sullivan
I love Sully as a character. He’s Nate’s mentor figure and business partner. He also has a long history of procuring treasure and ancient artifacts. In this game he and Nate from the get-go are working together in their exploration efforts. It is established that both Nate and Sully have known one another for a while and their banter and dialogue with each other really solidifies their relationship. You immediately grasp that Sully has seen and done much during his lifetime and is enjoying his adventures with Nate.
We don’t learn too much about Sully in this game in comparison to the other games but his personality and charisma are very apparent and make him a really fun and memorable character. I think most people can just instantly like Sully because he’s simply a likeable guy. He gives advice but also knows when to let Nate take the lead in certain situations. I really like how he’s essentially “the normal one” in a sense that he cannot climb every single wall and jump every leap and simply says to Nate along the lines of “go ahead kid, I’m not climbing down a 30ft pit”. He gives a reality check to some of the intense stunts that Nate pulls.
Our Protagonist: Nathan Drake
Fun // Excitement & Adventure // Large Backstory not Necessary
I really like Nathan Drake as our protagonist. He’s a somewhat classic character that wants adventure while being jovial, appropriately sarcastic, and a decent guy. As I have said before, the banter and dialogue in this game is great and Nathan Darke is no exception. His interactions are typically done with an air of light humor but never comes across as one note. In the more serious scenes, his sense of humor and sarcasm are put aside in that moment.
When playing the game you get to vicariously experience Nate’s excitement and wonder of the artifacts, places, and history being discovered along the way. He’s excited about this adventure, so therefor you, the player, is also excited. I simply loved experiencing the game through the lens of Nathan Drake, his enthusiasm definitely rubs off on the player.
In this game we don’t get much of a backstory of Nate’s character. Through some scenes and dialogue we get to find out that he grew up without parents and in a Catholic orphanage, hence his knowledge of Latin in portions of the story. I don’t think this game called for an in depth look of Nate’s past because it would’ve muddied the story. What we know is that he’s a treasure hunter alongside Sully and he’s a decent, happy, and sarcastic guy.
Overall, I really liked Nathan Drake as a character in this game and he wasn’t too different from the Nathan Drake I first experience while playing Uncharted 4. It was nice to see some consistencies in the main protagonist’s characterizations and personality from the first uncharted to the fourth instalment.
Some Clunkiness // Basic Weaponry // That Darn Jet Ski!!
For the Nathan Drake Collection the developers tried to make the gameplay similar across all three games. Obviously with Drake’s Fortune being the oldest of the three games I would imagine it contains the most changes from the original. While playing the game, I adapted to the controls but there were some clunky parts that were noticeable. For example, when hiding behind structures during a shootout you cannot move Nate while you are shooting. You either shoot in a locked position or move to the desired position and then resume shooting.
Another noticeable element in this game is the limited camera. You are limited in you scope of how high and low you can look. Sometimes I wanted to see the tops of the structures and was not able to because the camera angles were limited.
Upon playing Uncharted 2, I realized how the guns in Drake’s Fortune don’t have much recoil and feel like a toy gun. I can say that shooting in some regard was easier in Drake’s Fortune because many of the weapons didn’t have recoil or they felt the same when shooting them regardless of model. This became more noticeable retrospectively, not during my initial playthrough of the game.
The weapons themselves are pretty straight forward. You have two slots, one for smaller firearms such as pistols and one for larger firearms such as revolvers or shotguns. Throughout you journey there are different varieties that you can pick up and swap out. I would say it’s highly unlikely you would have the same weapon throughout the entire game.
There is the option to use your fists in a fight but I wasn’t too great at these mechanics. In a pinch, I would use the melee option but usually I was use guns instead. I think in the future games the melee mechanics are vastly improved upon from this game’s mechanics.
In one portion of the story you are in control of a jet ski. The portions involving the jet ski were sometimes problematic and somewhat annoying. We were essentially in control of driving the jet ski and responsible for shooting enemies or explosive barrels. The jet ski itself could potentially become unstable in terms of controls so it took some great concentration and effort to get past all the checkpoints. It is doable, just be warned it has the potential to be somewhat annoying.
Graphics, Artistic/Aesthetic Style, & Ambience
Fun Environments // Some Visibility Issues // Most Aged of the Nathan Drake Collection
If anyone couldn’t have already guessed, I love the scenery of this game. Considering this is a remaster from a 2007 game they did an excellent job of bringing in more detail to the scenery. I would say that is one of the game’s strongest visual components is the construction of the environment, be it nature or manmade structures.
As you can imagine the bulk of the scenery in this game is confined to Spanish colonial structures. There are some areas where I wished we could experience what the structures would have looked like in their heyday because they just looked so cool in their dilapidated state. The game never feels repetitive and offers so much visual stimulation and imagination that is special and does not occur in just any game.
I really enjoyed the structures that had more detail in them such as the old library and cathedral. Those two locations really gave insight into the past of the former inhabitants and were a good break from all the nature or completely dilapidated ruins areas.
Some of the areas, such as caves and tunnels, were really hard to see in due to the sheer darkness. From what I can tell (maybe I’m just being stupid) there were no options to change the darkness or contrast in the settings. I tried looking once and just accepted my fate that I was not going to see well. Maybe it was there but I wasn’t that bothered or hindered by the darkness. All the other games in the collection never had this issue so I’m wondering if the overall palate of Drake’s Fortune is simply darker. It would make sense since many games in the late 2010s had a dark undertone (at least we didn’t get the brown undertone syndrome so many games of that period seem to have).
The people in this game are sadly not as detailed or graphically updated as the surrounding scenery. I can imagine that movement and people and general are one of the harder things to remaster. The people don’t look out of place, but there are moments of stiffness and general lack of detailing in faces or clothing. However, I don’t fault the game for this and I wasn’t bothered by the looks of the people in the game. It simply is what it is.
The music really embodies the adventure spirit. There was one particular song I didn’t like but it’s due to amplifying the creepiness of that location, but I guess it did its job. All the music matched the scene and scenery, a job well done!
Would I Recommend?
Having only played the fourth game it was really fun to dive into the first game of the series. The story telling and plot didn’t feel too far off from the fourth game. The Uncharted series has a strong identity in its storytelling, characterization, and variety of expected and unexpected locations. If I had one wish, is that they release the Nathan Drake Collection onto PC so more people could enjoy the Uncharted series (who knows, someday they might).
I loved all the characters in Drake’s Fortune. I liked Nate and his sense of adventure and excitement about discovering Drake’s treasure and then El Dorado. I liked that Sully was a mentor figure and shared Nate’s excitement in the grand discovery of treasure. I also like how Sully is actually in it for the treasure and money which compliments Nate’s somewhat more aloof and carefree nature. Lastly, Elena is a smart and reasonable character who knows how to handle Drake’s aloofness and questions some of his antics. The main three characters felt balanced and knew how to banter with one another which was enjoyable and somewhat amusing to witness.
I really liked the sense of adventure this game brought. I was always ready and excited to see where the game would take me in terms of story. Let’s just say there was never a dull moment either storywise or gameplay wise.
My one big criticism is related to a small spoiler I mentioned previously. I didn’t like how the game turned into a horror-esque game and detracted from the grand adventure focus of the game. I wish the horror elements would have been less frequent or utilized a little less frequently in the middle to latter portions of the game. Though this was not enough to deter me from continuing to play and enjoy the game as a whole.
I think the graphics and visuals are quite good in this game. As I did not play the original PS3 version I can say the most noticeable thing age-wise were the human models. They are the stiffest and are the least detailed of the four Uncharted games but you get used to them as you continue to play the game. The world is stunning to look at and there are varying locales that embody the overall essence of adventure and exploration.
I wouldn’t recommend this game if you don’t want a linear story narrative driving your game experience. I know some people complain about games being too much like a movie. This game is one of those games in that the game relies heavily on narrative. That being said this game does have quite a few shootout portions as part of the core gameplay. If you suck at shooting things and get frustrated easily maybe this isn’t the game for you (granted there is a mode below easy which I have not tried so maybe that will balance the shootout games for those who want the story).
I would recommend this game if you have played any other Uncharted game (and liked it), want to play something akin to an Indiana Jones movie, or simply want a game about a grand adventure and exploration. I have always been fond of the adventure genre, so I am down for a classic tale of searching for some lost city or artifact. If you also like fun memorable characters this game boasts a wonderful cast of characters most players wouldn’t forget. All in all, if you are an adventurous sort and haven’t even dabbled into the Uncharted series I would highly recommend you to start playing Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and continue from there!