Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review (PS4)

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Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony

Main Review

Review Context: I have played all the Uncharted games multiple times.
Date of Playthrough: May 11, 2016

Nathan Drake has been through a lot; finding lost cities, cursed idols, fighting against mercenaries and war criminals, finding love, treasure, and getting into sticky situations. We’ve seen him grow as a character, climb up some of the most terrifying heights, and solve puzzles that haven’t been touched in hundreds or even thousands of years. So what is a better way to wrap up the story of this modern day treasure hunter? Well of course, do it all again with some added things to boot.

Starting the story, we are immediately introduced to Nate’s presumed dead brother Sam. It’s been fifteen years since Nate saw him and their search for Captain Avery’s Treasure, Naughty Dog did a great job of explaining why he has been absent from previous games. After we learn that small bit of backstory we are brought to the present where Nathan Drake is living a normal life. In case you haven’t played the first three Uncharted games I will avoid spoilers for that, but as we learn about Drake’s current life we get a nostalgic blast from the past as we get to examine mementos from Drake’s previous adventures. When Sam returns the search for Captain Avery’s treasure picks up and they need to find the treasure before the Drake brothers old associate Rafe, who is determined enough to find the treasure that he hired the mercenary Nadine and her crew. With a longer story than previous games, Naughty Dog has clearly continued to refine their craft and deliver an excellent and emotional story. This could even be argued to be the best story in the series, which delivers a very solid conclusion to Nathan Drake’s story. The callbacks to the previous games are well used and help build the emotional connection to the story for long-term fans. Even without playing the previous games the story is still very easy to follow and stands by itself as a great story.

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The new characters in the game have been worked in really well. Sam is the older brother you would expect Nathan Drake to have, who gets into just as much trouble as Nate. We even get to see flashbacks when the Drake bothers were kids. The Rafe/Nadine villain duo is an excellent opponent for the Drake brothers, as Rafe is rich and Nadine is an excellent female mercenary who doesn’t take anyone’s nonsense. Even the history with Captain Avery and his hidden treasure is very well written, to the point where you actually feel you are getting a second story on top of Drake’s adventure.

The gameplay mechanics have been tightened and refined to create an excellent experience. The climbing feels smooth and the gunplay has a much needed fine-tuning. Like previous games, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End offers a stealth approach to some combat situations. It’s improved over previous games, but in terms of stealth is very basic but in depth enough to give players an option to avoid heavy fire fights. A grappling hook and pick have been added to traversal, however these are underwhelming, with the grappling hook acting no different than plain ropes in previous games and the pick is added too close to the end of the game to really be used very well. Taking both away would not affect the game at all, which is disappointing, seeing as they make a little bit of a big deal in having them in the game.

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Uncharted 4 has more open scenarios than previous games. While not exactly open world, these sections are very big to encourage exploration. However, these feel nothing more than filler, and besides having a bigger area to search for collectibles, they don’t add anything to the game. The new driving sections to make these sections go by quicker and the action set pieces involving vehicles are very well done. The strangest thing added to the game was dialogue choices. There are about three times you actually having a choice to pick a line and they have absolutely no overarching affect on the story. Why they are in is confusing, and when they are gone you easily forget that they were even there. However, optional dialogue prompts pop up occasionally, giving just a tiny bit more depth to the characters, which helps development a great deal.

The music and graphics beat out expectations. The score of the game is absolutely amazing and every moment escalates the intense and emotional moments. The graphics are just amazing, making this easily the best-looking PS4 game to date. What is interesting is in the statistics menu underneath the game clock of how long you have played is a timer of how long you stood still. Out of the Fourteen hours it took me to beat the game two were dedicated to me just stopping and looking around the environment.

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There are flaws to the game of course. I mentioned the ups and downs of new gameplay elements but the game does have its share of bugs. During my playthrough I experienced crashes in the game, like completely closing out, as well as the sound cutting out requiring me to reboot the game entirely. There were also plenty of times a dialogue option prompted on the screen, only for the NPC to move and completely miss the chances for that little bit of dialogue. All these bugs make a generally smooth experience less immersive, but luckily they didn’t happen too often.

The multiplayer is back, and while it’s a fun optional thing, it still feels like it could be left out and nothing would be missing from the game, much like the multiplayer in Uncharted 2: Among Thieve’s and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. However, it is enjoyable and those who do like multiplayer matches will find a lot to enjoy.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a fantastic experience. Naughty Dog has proven once again that they are masters at their craft and can continue to grow. Gamers who are veterans of the Uncharted series should have no question whether they should pick this up. For players who have not played the previous games, they should still pick this up if they are looking for a good adventure game or a game with a strong story.

Similar Games Liked:
The Last of Us (PS4)
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)

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