Review: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

If you have ever wanted to be both Indiana Jones and John McClane at once, look no further than the Uncharted series, particularly Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. This game took everything that was great about the first 3 games and expertly built upon it. The combat is mostly unchanged except for the incredible ability to be truly viable in stealth. Previous entries attempted to make stealth a viable option but fell short of the mark. I took out entire rooms full of guards with out firing a bullet or being fired at by careful positioning and patience. It was the most fun I have had in an Uncharted game to date. The combat of these games has never been what people rave about as it isn’t anything revolutionary or ground breaking. That said, set piece moments such as the Madagascar car chase where Drake is pulled behind cars while shooting at enemies, pulling himself onto a car, then jumping to a new vehicle to hijack it and be an all around action hero, are what make this game so incredibly fun to play. Add the more dynamic moments of stealth and the game becomes and absolute joy to experience.

The graphical prowess of this entry in the series cannot be ignored. It is the most beautiful game I have ever played even taking into account PC gaming with games such as The Witcher 3. While Witcher 3 on PC runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, the art work, use of weather effects and more are stunning on this PS4 exclusive. Naughty Dog has proven time and again that they know how to make stunningly gorgeous vistas and set pieces. I often found myself stopping to look at a view of the ocean and surrounding islands, stop my jeep to enjoy the sprawling environment of a volcano in Madagascar and other exquisite vistas in the game. While open world games are full of choice and provide far more hours of game play, a linear game such as Uncharted 4 proves why this genre still has a massive place in gaming. The ability a developer has to create immensely detailed environments with extreme care is an advantage over other great games.

Naughty Dog added new moments to the game that breathe new life into the series. The aforementioned stealth capabilities are one as are the use of the winch and rope usage throughout the game. I regularly got excited when I saw a moment to use the rope however it could have been used in other situations and was not. For instance, in many situations I boosted another character up to a point and they had to find a crazy way to help me up or I had to find another way when they could have easily lowered me their rope and pulled me up. Even with the minor gripe of the rope, climbing in general also felt faster and more fluid.

Puzzles didn’t use the notebook at heavily as the previous three games which was a refreshing change. In general, puzzles were fun, not overly simple but not convoluted either. There was one particular puzzle around chapter 11 that was particularly enjoyable when matching stars. It integrated the notebook in a engaging and realistic manner and I honestly wanted to do more of this puzzle when it was finished. There was times I had to think in order to solve a puzzle but I never found myself frustrated or looking to the internet for help.

The story is fantastic and by far the best in the franchise! The opening hour or so of the game the player gets to see a retired Nathan Drake with his wife Elena and explore the Drake home and attic where some of the old treasure discovered in previous games are stored. I didn’t want the peaceful moments at his home to end as they were a great pay off after playing the first three games where Nate just can’t seem to catch a break. I personally didn’t want to see him go back into the life of mystery hunting but I knew he would as there wouldn’t be a game otherwise. With that, I hoped Naughty Dog would offer a good reason for him to reenter the scene and they did not disappoint. His reasons for re-entering the life are valid and noble even if he makes some stupid decisions in the process.

A refreshing bit of the story came in the fact that the goons who chase you didn’t show up in secret caverns. In previous entries of the series, you would open a secret passageway that hadn’t been found in hundreds of years. This entryway would be the only way to enter and yet, a few minutes after entering there are hundreds of bad guys shooting you up with guns somehow in front of you. It was something I didn’t like about previous Uncharted games and it was remedied here. Further, the first three games had late game supernatural twists that I was not fond of. I was grateful that no such twist existed here. The game provided a swash buckling treasure hunt with a believable and sinister villain and a great end boss fight!

Over many years I have had the privilege of playing many franchises and never has a series been wrapped up so beautifully. If you have yet to play the game, be prepared for a great ending. The epilogue is so exquisitely satisfying that players should take the time to breath in all of the added story that is present therein. Before the epilogue I was already impressed with ending and was delighted to see that the game and Drake story-line could be wrapped up so beautifully. Being a gamer that played the entire franchise in about a month I can only imagine how fans from 2007 must have felt when experience the epilogue.

I can do no more than applaud and praise the amazing work by Naughty Dog with Uncharted 4. Sure, the combat still isn’t great and the rope could have been used in more situations but those are minor gripes that are easily forgiven when placed against the beautiful graphics, outstanding voice acting, emotional and riveting story and phenomenal epilogue that I will likely never forget. With Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Naughty Dog has once again proven that they know how to make a high quality game that will stand the test of time.

5 out of 5 Couch Cushions

5 out of 5 small

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