Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review
The Uncharted series is a Playstation staple, and Naughty Dog has been producing quality titles for the system for a long time. While Uncharted 2 was often the undisputed best title – ahead of Uncharted 3 and Uncharted 1 – Uncharted 4 topples them all and concludes the epic saga in a beautiful and appropriate way.
Uncharted 4 is undoubtedly the best in the series, and improves on so many things that were wrong with previous titles.
Beautifully Setting the Tone
We don’t often comment on story elements in our reviews because we don’t want to spoil it for those that have yet to play, but the beginning of Uncharted 4 is outstanding. Before an hour has past, you will get to play as Nathan Drake in 3 different times of his life: as a child in the Catholic orphanage, as a young man in an island prison, and finally as Nathan Drake in the present day. At first I was confused, but it all climaxes at the return of your once thought dead brother, Samuel.
Naughty Dog introduced Samuel to the series in a wonderful way, showing his progression from young bad ass, to criminal, to man desperately in need of a brothers helping hand. By the time you really begin your Uncharted journey in the present day with Nate, Sam and Sully, you care about Sam and Nate in ways that previous Uncharted titles failed to do. Perhaps its the glimpse into the crappy life they had as kids, or the frustrations they experienced in prison, but either way, Naughty Dog made me care.
Sully reintroduction into the game wasn’t nearly as impressive, but like the previous titles, Naughty Dog made sure to reintroduce the idea of mistrust in Sully, this time coming from Samuel. This extra layer of complexity only adds to the overall story, and while Sully definitely feels like a distant third character, his involvement and character ark – especially in his relationship with Sam – really grows and flourishes as you move from chapter to chapter.
The Same Uncharted Feel
Although Naughty Dog championed major changes in Uncharted 4, people who enjoyed past titles will still understand that they are playing and Uncharted game. The game is broken up into a little over 20 chapters, and each chapter lasts around 20 to 30 minutes – depending on how much exploration you do. Exploration has been enhanced in Uncharted 4, although while being able to roam around with a bit more freedom is nice, I find getting those out of the way treasures more of a chore now. So there is a trade off – the openness of the areas are better for combat – stealth combat especially – and look nicer, but make finding the numerous treasures more of a chore than it was in the past.
The treasure, however, are not mandatory, so I think the positives of new combat techniques out way the negative. I firmly believe that combat in Uncharted 4 is the best it has ever been. Using stealth to move around large areas and take out an entire group of enemies quietly is not easy to do, but is incredibly rewarding. It seems like Naughty Dog has taken all the best mechanics from previous games and brought them together to create an outstanding combat system.
Not All the Same
It’s not all the same though. As previously mentioned, the more open environments really change the way we play this latest Uncharted game. Gone are the super linear areas prominent in the first three titles, and instead, a more open world is established here. This is extremely valuable when trolling around Madagascar in your jeep, as the exploration aspect of that particular area is almost as much fun as completing the current mission assignment.
Another great new item is the grappling hook, which not only changes how we can traverse the numerous environments, but also adds a great new way to engage the many enemies throughout the game. Swinging in Tarzan style and disabling – and often killing – unsuspecting guards from above is incredibly satisfying; Naughty Dog has even made the movements of Nate more fluid than ever before. It’s a bit of a learning curve early on, but before you know it you will be swinging, rolling, stealth killing, and shooting your way through each chapter.
Drawing to a Conclusion
We know from many comments from both Sony and Naughty Dog that this would be Nathan Drake’s last adventure, so leading up to launch the rumour mill was churning out everything from “Nate will be filthy rich and retire” to “Nate will die.” I’m not commenting on the end game here, but it was done to perfection. The entire series is wrapped up in a way that I wasn’t initially expecting. Relationships are formed and mended, there is treasure to be had, and yes, there are tinges of sadness sprinkled throughout. But kudos to Naughty Dog – they knocked this series finale out of the park.
If you own a PS4, picking up the latest Uncharted title is a no brainer. With all the improvements to combat and environments, coupled with an outstanding story line, this is easily one of the best game available right now, and definitely the best Uncharted title in the series. Do yourself a favour and pick it up. This is an experience you do not want to miss.
- Great environments
- Improved combat
- Excellent use of new mechanics
- Outstanding story, and the perfect conclusion to the Uncharted series