Uncharted Drake’s Fortune PS4 Visual Analysis: Comparison With PS3 Version Reveals Graphical Updates

Bluepoint Games continues to display its current gen chops by revamping the PS3 classic.

Posted By | On 19th, Sep. 2015 Under Article, Graphics Analysis

There is a common saying that goes, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. In this age of remasters though, the issue now becomes, “If it was perfect, how can we make it better?” This applies mostly to a game’s visuals, though many developers have their own interpretation for how they want to better the classics of yesteryear. A common consensus in the gaming industry seems to be to opt for 60 FPS and 1080p resolution, but thankfully, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection isn’t doing just that. The PS4-bound compilation is a means to prep fans for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which releases in March 2016, but developer Bluepoint Games is doing plenty across the board on all three of Naughty Dog’s action adventure shooters.

After comparing footage from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on the PS3 and PS4, we noted a variety of improvements. Though environmental deformation wasn’t quite up to snuff, we noted better particle and alpha effects (particularly in transparency). Texture details, from metallic sheen to cracked pillars and clothing on characters, looked great in 1080p resolution. We detected some frame rate drops but for the most part, Bluepoint seemed close to cracking the constant 60 FPS puzzle.

Now, footage for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – the game that started it all – has become available, showcasing the sequence where Elena busts Drake out before transitioning to a high speed chase in the jungle. It should be noted that Uncharted 2 was already leaps and bounds above its predecessor when it came to graphics and animation. This is because the first Uncharted marked Naughty Dog’s first foray into PS3 development, which is no easy feat when you consider the challenges the Cell processor presented. Naughty Engine 1.0 still benefitted from the console’s GPU to employ pixel shaders, real-time shadows, advanced water simulation and more while animation blending was created to pile various realistic expressions and animations into the experience. Even when reviewing the PS3 footage all these years later, the animations in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune were clearly ahead of their time. If anything, it feels even more fluid when viewed in 1080p resolution and 60 FPS.

Comparing the PS3 and PS4 footage side by side, it’s amazing just how revamped the textures have become. Drake’s hair looks more like actual hair while various environmental details, like moss growing on the floors, crumbling bricks, rusted metal bars and foliage look better. The cloth textures alone for all the characters are better on closer observation and thanks to the lighting system, character models themselves move and blend with the environment more naturally than before. Edges are smooth overall with a custom post-process anti-aliasing in play.

The lighting is no longer a heavy yellow shade illuminating characters and settings. In some scenes, like the chase through the tunnels, the sun rays and dust particles – which reacted dynamically to the environment – melded together while also illuminating the nearby vegetation. Light sources themselves cast multiple shadows in environments and it was interesting how it worked differently for indoor settings. In the PS3 version, the single torch functioned as more of a hard light source. In the PS4 version, the light emitted from the torch is less harsh, resulting in shadows blending with characters’ features and clothing in a more nuanced fashion.

I honestly didn’t find the difference in overall texture quality and lighting for Uncharted 2 on the PS3 and PS4 to be as significant as Uncharted across both console generations. It isn’t limited to texture quality either – while the original ran at a locked 30 FPS frame rate with very noticeable screen tearing in action-heavy sequences, the PS4 version runs at a smooth 60 frames per second for the most part with no screen-tearing. One could say there was greater room for improvement than in the sequel but its changes like this that really help bring Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune in line with the rest of the trilogy. The 1080p resolution further helps in delivering all that crisp detail.

Then again, there are some drawbacks. As with Uncharted 2, the environmental deformation didn’t look like anything “next generation”. While it is improved over the PS3 version, it doesn’t really stand out all that much, even as particle and alpha effects like explosions and fire come across better than before. The structure of environments on the PS4 version hasn’t been messed about with either and they’re still very similar to the PS3 version.

At the end of the day though, Bluepoint Games continues to refine its work on the Nathan Drake Collection. While Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune may run at a rock steady frame rate, Uncharted 2 and 3 may still be optimized up until launch day (not that Uncharted 2 was all that far off anyway). We still haven’t had a look at Drake’s Deception on the PS4 so there’s still more to anticipate in the coming weeks. If the collection thus far has proven anything, it’s that the developer is retaining the look and feel of the original games while significantly updating them for the PS4 (with a 60 FPS frame rate in mind, of course). Even if Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection doesn’t end up running at a locked 60 FPS, the work that Bluepoint has put in to get it that close is an achievement in itself.

As with Uncharted 2, it’s hard to fathom going back to Uncharted at 30 FPS after this collection. It also makes one wonder how Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will fare in that regard, seeing as its single-player campaign is capped at 30 FPS and 1080p resolution. Regardless, with Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection releasing on October 7th in Europe and October 9th in North America, this journey to Drake’s debut on the PS4 has seen nothing short of high quality.

Note: This is a work in progress analysis based on the recent footage released by Sony.

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  • Rodney Patrick

    @gamingbolt stop trying to make it seem that they had rebuilt the game from the ground up,all they have done is bump up the res and frame rate that’s it.so stop acting like they did a gears of war ultimate edition remake,payola….smh

    • XbotMK1

      Gears Ultimate Edition wasn’t a remake, it was a remaster. Are you enjoying those 30 frames in Gears of War Ultimate Edition single player?

    • justerthought

      Why are you so bitter. Who cares if it’s a rebuild or an up res. All that matters is what needs to be done is done in order to bring the game up to the current expectations of gamers using the latest hardware.

      Stop sucking sours grapes and get yourself a PS4 so you can play these great games in high quality. It’s more fun than moaning in comment sections. Mine is pre-ordered and I will have a blast.

    • Zubairu

      Proof of payroll? No? then please shut it

    • Ali Nasir Wayne

      yeah it has changed a LOT. i mean look at drake’s pubic hair, how detailed they are

  • XbotMK1

    The game’s textures were redone, just like Gears of War Ultimate Edition. However, the first Gears of War had a lot more room for improvement than Uncharted because Uncharted had more complex level with more varied environments and already looked good. Each game is different and some games can be polished easier than others depending on the hardware.

    But I’m not going to sugar coat it or be like these Microsoft c0cksuckers like Rodney Patrick who are so desperate that they try to make it seem like more effort is put into Xbox remasters. A remaster is a remaster and a cash grab either way you look at it. It’s like arguing who polishes their turds better.

    • justerthought

      Your analogies are all totally wrong. When you try to polish a turd, you are starting with crap and trying to make it better. The result just gets messy and still remains crap. The Uncharted series was never crap. It has always been regarded as very high quality gaming. These games are classics.

      You seem to think remaster is a dirty word. Great gameplay is eternal but graphics don’t age well as technology moves forward. Classics deserve to live on. Great movies, great music and great games. They all get quality improvements so they match the expectations of modern consumers.

      Remastering a classic is never a cash grab because the consumer gets an improved premium product if he is prepared to pay. A crash grab is when something is not worth the money and a publisher jumps on the band wagon of a trend in order to make money, such as remastering something that is not a classic.

      You tar everything with the same brush. These games deserve to live on for future generations. They deserve to be remastered and enjoyed.

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    • Ali Nasir Wayne

      they desrve to live on to induce headaches to future generation

    • AndrewLB

      Textures were not redone. It’s being rendered at a higher resolution, anisotropic filtering was added, as well as a sharpening filter. LOD changes as well.

    • Ali Nasir Wayne

      yeah it has changed a LOT. i mean look at drake’s pubic hair, how detailed they are.

    • Ali Nasir Wayne

      how it was complex?? they were just a headache inducing blurry mess.

  • Ali Nasir Wayne

    fanboys are like “it has changed a LOT. i mean look at drake’s pubic hair, how detailed they are”


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