REVIEW: Uncharted 4

Another week, another review. Monday’s seem a good day to upload so maybe I’ll stick to that schedule for a while… Maybe.

So as you can see from the title and the massive image, I will be reviewing “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End“. I am going to be honest, this is a very close-to-home review to write. I loved this series and I’m very sad to see it go but I guess the hard truth is: Nathan Drake’s story was over; there was nothing left to tell.

Anyway, basics!
Title: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Genre: Action-adventure, third-person shooter
Release Date: May 10th 2016
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog

I have played the original trilogy of Uncharted more than once and it is one of my favourite video game series. Not my favourite, but it is definitely in my Top 5. I’m going to start by making a bold statement right now: Uncharted 4 is my game of the year (so far).

Get it… I put the text in bold. Never mind.

Like any other Uncharted game you play as adventurer/treasure-hunter/thief (does he even have a job title?) Nathan Drake on his quest to find some form of old and lost treasure left behind by people that have far more to their stories than what history tells us. In this case: pirate captain Henry Avery. Only this time you are joined by his, believe-to-be-dead, brother Sam and Nate has long-since retired his fortune seeking ways. Along the way you have to deal with psychopath and wealthy treasure-hunter Rafe Adler and his pal Nadine’s army of grunts also looking for this treasure.
Now again, I want to keep this relatively spoiler-free because who knows maybe you’ve not played this incredible finale of a game series? I may be slightly bias.

So, what was good?

Uncharted 4, to me, had the strongest plot of the entire franchise because at this point, if you had played the others, you already have a strong connection to these characters. Yes, the actual story is predictable as all hell but we all came along for this ride to see how Nathan, Elena and Sully’s journey ended. In my opinion this entire game was about Nate’s growth as a person and what truly matters to him. The flashbacks are wonderful for finally wrapping up the question of “who is Nathan Drake?” and, now delving in to spoiler territory, the scene with Elena and the jeep was the equivalent of the giraffe scene in “The Last of Us“.

If you’ve never played either, it is basically a moment away from the action where the characters are finding peace within themselves and making personal choices in their own heads and it is all expressed through scenery and music. It was a love letter to fans of the series and it tugged at my own heart strings; it was the first point in the game I wanted to cry and the realisation of “this is over” hit me.

Speaking of the scenery; the graphics in this game are incredible. Every country you visit, every forest or cave you enter is beautiful. I enjoyed seeing Panama’s design again from Drake’s Fortune but from a completely different view. One of my favourite things to look at was the water. The amount of detail put in to getting the droplets just right on the character’s faces after swimming or rain was so realistic. Even in caves, the water was so clear you could see little details of seaweed or rocks from above it.

Although there was an area where you can look down in to a canyon and the wildebeest below look like they came from a slightly higher rendered Super Mario 64 and stuck out against the rest of the view… But I’ll give Naughty Dog the benefit for the doubt for that one.

uncharted-4-a-thiefs-end-madagascar-screenshot-15_1920-0
Source: Polygon

This game was so pretty to look at and they really went all out on trying to prove it by having all sorts of weather conditions from snow to tropical storms. Even the characters’ sweat patches looked good.

As far as gameplay is concerned, it is standard third-person shooting. I’m slightly disappointed that the grenade-throwback option appears to have disappeared but I guess realistically you can’t throw lit dynamite back at people without losing a finger or 10.

I will admit that although they’re very similar to every other piece of action/adventure content, the action sequences are some of the coolest parts of this game and give the feeling of an action-movie come to life especially the vehicle chases. It’s an excellent contrast against the quieter, puzzle elements; which I felt were easier in this one than in previous games. Or was that just me? (And the climbing is as “Assassin’s Creed“-y as always, thanks for asking. Although I guess there’s only so many ways one actor can climb).

What’s to hate?

I’m going to be a little bias here: not a lot.

A lot of the gameplay was re-hashed from the previous trilogy and sometimes it felt like there were too many enemies or over-powered enemies. Not in an “I can’t fight this many people” way but in a “Wolfenstein: The New Order” way of “this is just unrealistic” but I can look past that because I’d rather be shooting guy after guy than climbing for 4 HOURS. The game even gives you statistics of how long you have spent on both the ground and climbing and I’m still not sure if Naughty Dog was trying to troll us on that one. But would Uncharted be Uncharted without those features?

I’m also probably going to be one of the few who feels this way but… I did not like Sam. Without going too in-depth for fear of spoiling things, I just did not trust him throughout the whole game. Whether I was meant to feel that way or no, I certainly did to the point his actions became annoying. Maybe it’s because I can see all the faults in him that Nathan had in previous games. I felt his addition as a brother, for most of the game, was just about as relevant as if he had been a long-lost friend or cousin. My mind slowly changed the further I proceeded in the game but I still felt some of the games story was based around the phrase “he’s my brother”. Good actor though, good casting. Maybe I was supposed to feel this way and this means Naughty Dog has amazing story-telling, but I still didn’t like him.

uncharted-4_drake-truck-drag
Source: Playstation Lifestyle

Would it be nit-picky if I were to talk about the fact that every character we love in this game is a complete and utter psychopath because they kill people mercilessly and have done on multiple occasions and then continue on with their lives as if nothing happened with no consequences for their actions? Probably. I should probably remember it is also just a video game.

For some reason this did bother me and this really set in for me after one of the big cinematic chases where Nathan and Sam end up in the middle of a construction/dockyard-type place as they look on at a burning truck and NOBODY says anything. Not one person thinks to call the police or even be concerned. But again…it’s a video game. I know.

Finally, yes, I am just upset this series is over. That’s it. That’s what I hate.

Final thoughts?

I loved this game. It was an excellent finale to an amazing series. The cinema tics were incredible and beautiful to watch. The characters were wonderfully cast. The story was perfect. I’m sad to see it go but like I said in my last review: one of the best feelings a gamer can get upon finishing one is bittersweet.

uncharted-4-nate-elena
Source: dorkshelf.com

Side note (spoiler): I really liked that there were no monsters or supernatural elements in this one. Even after the pirate ghosts joke. The real monsters were those with this obsession of treasure and wealth. Everyone who goes after those treasures gets what they deserve.

Is this game worth £45 ($65)? 100%, absolutely, no second-thoughts, a big fat YES. 15 hours of fun. Even if you’ve only just heard of this game or don’t own a PS4, this series is a reason to get one. One of the best exclusives I have ever played. Plus, you can play “Crash Bandicoot” in two sections of this game so nostalgia factors give it an extra 10 points.

Farewell Nathan Drake. It’s been one hell of a journey.

I give this game: 5/5

uncharted_4_logo