Uncharted Collection: An Absolute Must Play

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

I sometimes feel silly reviewing these older games, especially when they’ve long been heralded as amazing and I was simply too oblivious or stupid not to try them when they came out. Even though the first game came out nine years ago, let me tell you now that it’s never too late to play these games — especially since they’ve been remastered and the newest game just came out.

I’m going to approach reviewing Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection by giving my brief thoughts on teach of the games, and my overall thoughts on the series so far.

Uncharted PS3 vs. PS4

Remastered for the PS4

Part of me rejoices in the fact that I waited so long, because playing all of them on one disc in the PS4 in HD looks a heck of a lot better than it would have back on the PS3. The graphics for all three games look great. I was telling Graev (who played them all originally when they came out) that if I didn’t know the original game came out in 2007, I would have pegged it more around 2012’ish. The graphics in Drake’s Deception are as good as many games released today on the PS4.

Drake' Fortune

Drake’s Fortune

The first in the series kicks things off strong by tickling that treasure hunter itch. You’re the descendent of Sir Francis Drake (one of my favorite historical figures since I was 7, btw) looking for his long lost treasure. This starts you down a journey that continues to unfold throughout the rest of the series.

Drake’s Fortune features a lot of puzzle solving, jumping puzzles/navigation scenes, but most of all lots of shooting scenes. Back in 2007, the cover mechanics and climbing would have been really quite a feat and were probably pioneered through this game. The story is intriguing, though definitely takes an Indiana Jones turn when it goes a bit sci-fi — a turn that manifests itself in many ways throughout the series.

Overall a very catch story that sucked me in right away.

Among Thieves

Among Thieves

The story continues, sort of. This time Drake is in a new setting. Instead of islands and pirate ships, Drake is navigating the snowy Himalayas and Asia while following the trail of Marco Polo. Unfortunately, there’s very little connection at all to the first game’s plot except for the characters and their relationships. These relationships, however, are a huge element of the game for me and kept me going.

Among Thieves featured waaaaay more puzzles and climbing with relatively less shooting than the original. The story was slightly less intriguing because my interest in Marco Polo’s adventures pales in comparison to Sir Francis Drake. Once again the series takes on a mystical plot twist that I actually feel is sometimes at odds with the rest of the game. Uncharted 2 had a weird resolution for me. With so much build up, I feel like it ends relatively short of the huge story it built up.

Drake's Deception

Drake’s Deception

Easily the best in the series so far, Drake’s Deception brings us back to the story of Nathan Drake’s ancestor and more about the treasure we may find at the end of this long adventure. We see a change of scenery once again. In fact, we see lots of scenery changes in Uncharted 3. The game begins in London and travels all over from France to Yemen to the Rub’ al Khali desert.

Uncharted 3 introduces a lot more fist fighting and a heck of a lot more emphasis on sneaky gameplay. There’s also a lot of quick time events which make for more cinematic gameplay, but aren’t necessarily my cup of tea. Gameplay overall finds a very healthy balance between puzzles, climbing scenes, and fighting. By the end, I did wish for more puzzles. Thankfully the mystical nature here ends up working a little bit better than Uncharted 2, but it still resolves too quickly to have built up for so long.

Uncharted 3 has so many breathtaking moments where the gameplay had me on the edge of my seat. Bri (who is watching me play the entire series) and I would often be like “OH CRAP!” and all sorts of exclamations at scenes where the game threw me into these perilous intense moments that somehow manages to transcend the feeling of a game. It’s crazy what they’re able to enact on the player; On more than one occasion I was awestruck by how the game was so fluid and seamless in its ability to make me feel like I was doing all of these amazing things on my own, when in reality I know that’s the course they meant for me to take.

An Amazing Journey

Playing all three games back to back in less than a month was a blast, and now I’m ready to start the newly released Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (look for my review in a couple weeks tops). Uncharted is now among the top games on my all-time favorites list, right up there with Warcraft RTS and Assassin’s Creed.

The shooting, sneaking, climbing, jumping, cinematics, etc., all of the mechanics are all superb, and only a few times was I ever frustrated by the actual ‘playing’ part of the game. The story is top notch, yet predictable at times; Yet in its predictability it still manages to be told extremely well. All-around a near-perfect series. If you like shooters mixed with historical fiction, a little mysticism/scifi, and and puzzles… don’t make the same mistake I did by passing on these for so long. All 3 games with PS4 graphics at half the price of ONE game? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer.

Overwatch: Proof Blizzard Can Sell Anything

My review and thoughts on Overwatch will be straight forward and to the point as many or most of you likely already own the game. Overwatch is a rather generic and mediocre shooter when you strip away the Blizzard logo and look at it critically for what it really is. If this were released as a brand new IP from an unknown company, Overwatch would have gone relatively unknown and stood no chance against its competition in the space; In fact I have a feeling most would have knocked it hard for its shortcomings.

Overwatch is a straight copy of TF2 from character mechanics to game modes and even down to the zany nature of its characters personalities. They innovated some on certain abilities and attacks, tossed in more characters, but left it very vanilla after that.

There’s not much to Overwatch, and unfortunately little room to evolve the model. I’m sure they’ll add hats and gimmicks to the cash shop over the years to keep things fresh. That should work.

Team composition matters too much — probably the only legitimate comparison to a moba that I’ll allow. Have a poor team comp and you’re done. There’s also too much cheese. For example, stack a bunch of Toblerones and it breaks certain maps. Certain heroes have abilities which just aren’t balanced — and no, I don’t count having to swap heroes to take them out as balance. I had this discussion with Graev tonight about playing what you want to play vs playing what you have to play or are compelled to play. I like Hanzo the most, but I simply can’t play him when the enemy team comp won’t allow it or my team refuses to play a comp that stands a chance. If you’re on a team where everyone only picks the one hero they love to play, you’re doomed.

Summary:
People aren’t going to stick with Overwatch long, but they’ll get their money’s worth (the single biggest positive influence on my scoring). Overwatch is a ‘good’ game, but it simply rehashes what has already been seen and done before. If you look past the rage-inducing balance issues, cheese, team stacking, and overly formulaic design, chances are you’ll have a blast.

So Many Games. So Little Time.

I’m in some serious trouble here. There are so many great games coming out that even if I could play games all day there wouldn’t be enough time to play them all.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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You won’t believe this, but up until just two weeks ago I hadn’t played a single game in the Uncharted series. Turns out, they’s AMAZING. I feel like this is what happened with the Assassin’s Creed series all over again. I never played them, then suddenly I had to buy them all and now I’m a diehard fan.

I picked up the Nathan Drake Collection (great deal) which contains the first three games. I’m bingeing my way through them now hoping to start up Uncharted 4 by the end of next week. Looks like the graphics are insane, and Drake goes full-spider-man.  I’ll write up formal thoughts on the collection as well as Uncharted 4 asap. I can already tell you it’s worth playing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutants in Manhattan

This one came out of absolutely nowhere. Graev texts me the other day asking which platform we’re getting TMNT on. My resounding “huh?” was followed by a few “how did I not know about this?” followed by opening my wallet again.

Graev and I have played the original TMNT games for over 20 years. When did the original NES turtles game come out? ’89? So pretty much most of our lives have been filled with TMNT. Loved the original cartoon series. Turtles in Time is still one of our favorite games. Co-op and turtles? Count us in for Turtles in Manhattan.

Overwatch

Overwatch New Blizzard IP

I’ve been on a rollercoaster with Overwatch since alpha. I originally thought it was generic, but then I found my rhythm and started to play a little more with the characters. Despite it being an absolute 100% TF2 rip-off without the mods and community aspect of servers, it’s still a really great shooter.

Graev and I are both getting Overwatch as well. In fact, I think 4-5 people from our community here are getting it and we’ll all be playing together as much as possible over the coming weeks.

Total War: Warhammer

Here’s another game Graev clued me in to. I’ve never been a Total War fan, but that’s not because I’ve played the games and haven’t liked them — I’ve just never played them. I like Warhammer enough that I think I’ll give this one a try. Of all the games on this list, I think this is the one I might wait on. Looks good though. Anyone here played the Total War games and able to share some thoughts on whether or not a Warhammer version would be good? Sure looks fun…


So yeah… games. Lots of games.  I didn’t even mention the fact that I’m having a blast with Kingdom Hearts Unchained X, Clash Royale, and World of Warcraft (finally don’t hate my Monk now that I’m tank spec). I also have a backlog of at least 5-6 more games. Ack.

Playing anything fun? Picking up any of the games I mentioned?

Battlefield 1

I’m really happy to see the Battlefield series returning to its roots. Modern shooters don’t do it for me anymore, and future shooters have fizzled out for me too. I’ve been wanting a shooter to return back to that era where guns can’t see around corners, auto-aim, or transform into robots.

Battlefield 1 is set in the WW1 era. If you haven’t seen the trailer, let’s watch.

I’ve read and heard a completely mixed bag on this one. Everything from “OMG this looks amazing! Hype! Hype! Tears of joy!” all the way down to “Looks completely stupid. CoD is better. So dumb.”

As I have already alluded to, I like the setting. I think the concept of horses, melee, older tech, and a modernized spin on the era will be very enjoyable. I’m not worried about the setting at all. Graev and I used to have so much fun riding on the wings of planes and doing all sorts of zany stuff on BF1942. I hope to relive that.

What I’m most worried about is execution. Battlefield 4 was sorely lacking on so many fronts. The maps sucked, the vehicles sucked, the weapons were just ‘okay’.  BF Hardline was a bit of a joke. And if you consider it a BF game, and I sorta do, Battlefront was only just ‘okay’ for the hype.

I want to see better character customization, or none at all. I’d rather have Overwatch’s cosmetic progression over BF4’s implementation. I’d like the BF series to focus more on the gameplay and less on the tech and tools.

BF1 is on my list. Fingers crossed.

This Week at a Glance

Crazy week of 14 hour work days and trying to get a few projects off the group for my little startup project I’m doing. Starting a business is a lot of work. Let’s play catch up.

Chronicles of Elyria

Several of you emailed me or commented about Chronicles of Elyria with a “Check this out, Keen!” or “Hey have you seen this?” Yep, I see it. I think there’s a lot of really, really baseless hype right now. I can’t get excited for Kickstarter projects anymore. I’ve been pretty vocal about my dislike for the crowdfunding model for video games. While it has worked wonderfully for some games, I think it’s been the death sentence for twice as many more.

Don’t get me wrong here. I think the game has plenty of awesome ideas. In fact, I’m hyped myself at the thought of how some of these ideas can translate into a more dynamic and “living” world (sandbox?) rather than a themepark.

  • Characters age and die
  • Characters can permanently die
  • Characters stay in the world and if merchants they will be turned into NPCs (really cool concept?)
  • No in-game maps
  • Game enforced palyer contracts (also really cool)

What I can already say I dislike immediately are the ideas of players being Kings and a less than super simple business model. I have never seen the promise of player Kings or rulers or mayors or whatever they may be actually pan out into something that makes ANY sort of sense. So that idea already throws a red flag for me. And the concept of having pre-launch currency, in-game currency earned by playing, yada yada, all makes me frown and wish they’d just charge $14.99 a month.

Chronicles of Elyria is on my radar for sure. Let’s hope Kickstarter works, they actually make the game, and it’s what they promised the world.

Overwatch Open Beta

I’m enjoying Overwatch Open Beta significantly more than the Alpha I played a few months ago. However, the game still suffers from immense balance issues. Some characters are just worthless due to team composition needs. Some characters are still ridiculously powerful unless hard-countered by a specific character. I like Overwatch, but end up feeling frustrated 50% of the time I play, but that’s shooters in general.

World of Warcraft – Ding 100

My Monk reached level 100 and I was able to start my Tanaan dailies. In just 3 days of dailies I now have a full set of gear for my healing spec. I’m up to like 650 iLvl or something. Half my items are 675-680 epics. I’m planning to start dungeons soon, and farming raids for cash.