I have been sitting in anticipation of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for years. Uncharted is one of my favourite game series and it has some of the best storytelling, character creation, puzzle design and game play mechanics in the medium. I don’t often fight to review a game (though being the co-founder of Girls on Games I often have the pick of the litter) but for Nathan Drake, I put on my boxing gloves. I recently reviewed Uncharted: The Nathan Drake collection, the remaster of the previous three games for PlayStation 4, and it put me in the perfect mood to jump right back into the fray. Anticipation was high and this game does not disappoint. It’s a masterful conclusion to the series, and I sit here with conflicting emotions as I pen my final thoughts on one of the best franchise in gaming to date.
Setting The Stage of Uncharted 4:
This 4th edition of the Uncharted series takes place a little while after Uncharted 3, although the actual time frame is a little sketchy. Nathan and Elena have settled down, leaving the excitement of thieving and treasure hunting behind. Poor Nathan looks like a man with no cause until his thought-to-be-dead brother Sam shows up at his work, pleading with Nathan to help him track down the long lost treasure of the infamous pirate Captain Henry Avery, and saving Sam from a death sentence. The story is full of anxiety, excitement, anticipation, love interests, pain, and everything else we have come to love from the Uncharted series.
The Cast of Characters:
The trio is back at it again. Nathan, Elena and Sully are joined with a new dubious character, Nathan’s brother Sam. Sam is a wild card. I have this permanent sinking feeling as I play through the game that he might betray Nathan at any moment. Makes for an interesting dynamic, and time will tell if he is a trustworthy individual. The new villains Rafe and Nadine are formidable, and the history between the Drake brothers and Rafe really keeps the story moving.
Bang Bang, Sneaky Sneaky:
The gameplay in Uncharted 4 is better than ever. Mind you it does take a few chapters to really get into the gunfire, but the madness that ensues is just as fun as ever. The AI has gotten an upgrade, so be wary of enemies, as they are not as predictable as they were in the past. You might feel safe in cover, but that is an illusion. The things you hide behind can be destroyed, rendering you vulnerable, and enemies can come around behind you to punch you in the head. Moving is key to staying alive.
Speaking of moving, it looks like Uncharted has taken a few lessons from Assassin’s Creed on stealth action. Being sneaky sneaky in the tall grass is a new addition to this game in the series and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Barging in guns ablazing is always enjoyable, but there’s a certain satisfaction in taking out the Shoreline goons one by one that makes the game a little more gratifying.
Puzzles have always been a huge part of Uncharted, and this game doesn’t disappoint. I am kind of a wizard at puzzles, and none of these seemed super difficult. I personally liked the one in the bottom of the bell tower with the paintings. It made me feel like I earned my art degrees 😉
Holy Crap! That Could Be A Postcard:
Hot damn, this is the nicest looking game I have ever seen! I was salivating over the Order: 1886 when it released, giving it a pass because the gameplay wasn’t strong but the graphics were superb. Well this game goes above and beyond what the Order was able to do. The water, the lighting effects, the foliage, character renders… I could go on and on yabbering about their beauty. I often found myself with my jaw in my lap, just drooling over the graphics. I am sure about ⅓ of my game play time was spent just looking around at the scenery and lush environments. And all of that with no load times (except for when you first boot up the game).
The Shiny New Things:
There have been a few cool additions to the gameplay in Uncharted 4 that truly add to the experience. The grappling hook/rope which is going to get you out of some pretty sticky situations is not only useful, but also offers some heart in your throat moments. Unlike Batman: Arkham Knight, the addition of drivable vehicles in A Thief’s End is placed at just the right time in the game to make them useful and not overbearing to the experience. Mudding is really cool in a 4×4!
The Fun Stuff:
So many nods to games gone by in Uncharted 4. Folks who didn’t play the previous three Uncharted games will miss some of the subtle and not so subtle hints towards the past. There are some other really awesome tips of the hat to pop culture references that I won’t spoil here. And when you finish the game and you want to just be silly, the bonus modes just make you smile. Rainbow fun land had my giggling like crazy and good luck playing in 8-bit mode!
It’s with bittersweet regret that I write my final comments on Uncharted 4. This is the series that has kept me a PlayStation gamer. As I turn the last page in the book that is Nathan Drake’s story, I am sad yet totally in awe at the ability of the team at Naughty Dog, and at the franchise they have been able to create. I implore any gamer who has an inkling to pick up this entire series to play through it from beginning to end. It’s a testament to how good video game storytelling can be, and how amazing gameplay and unbelievable graphics can come together to make an unforgettable experience. Now, time to give that multiplayer a try, and play a little more in the 8-bit mode 🙂
Disclaimer: review game provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The opinions expressed those of the author, and have not been effected, edited or dictated by Sony.