Previous entries in the series have given players a version of Nathan Drake that was eerily similar in tone as well as motivation. This version of the character, however, gives us a matured Nathan Drake that is only bolstered by his new found motivation to “unretire” from a life he once knew.
What was surprising to me was the length of the third act. This was not a deal breaker but by the time the curtain was pulled back and intentions were revealed, the game seemed to keep going. It was definitely refreshing to gain some insight into Nathan Drake’s past but could have been executed in greater fashion as in previous games, such as Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
Uncharted 4’s secret weapon was its immersive campaign (10-hours). It starts off with a few set pieces from various time periods that come together and are brought to life by the game's fantastic cinematics. The reason, while cautiously familiar, that pulls Nathan Drake back into a life of exploration is a safe bet that pays off as the emotion is portrayed by each character’s amazingly talented cast – While leading a “normal” life with his wife Elena Fisher, Drake is sought out by his older (presumed deceased) brother, Samuel and is presented with a job that promises the excitement that is clearly absent from his current life.
The dialogue in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is some of the best of this current console generation. That is only achieved and serves as a testament to the talents of Nolan North (Nathan Drake). Richard McGonagle (Victor “Sully” Sullivan), Emily Rose (Elena Fisher), Troy Baker (Samuel Drake), and Warren Kole (Rafe Adler)… all of who give an extra flair to an exceptional script.
Supporting characters in Uncharted 4 only seem to make the game all the more interesting. Whether it was one of Shoreline’s thugs shooting at you or the waiters at the auction, there were no characters that lacked the depth needed to keep me invested from scenario to scenario. The most surprising element in Uncharted 4 was how the enemies in the game adjust to my play style (Ex: Attempting to use stealth, would cause the enemies spread and search for me).
The amount of detail that went into Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is amazing. While exploring the game’s environment I could see the polish that went into the texture of the cliffs, jungle, and even the sequence in an earlier chapter that has Nathan Drake diving under in Scuba Gear.
Even when I would find myself traversing through various sections of the game, I would find myself in awe over the camera angles within the game as they would either showcase the vast and lush environment or one of Nathan Drake’s slides down a muddy hill.
While the level of expansion in Naughty Dog’s latest entry in the Uncharted franchise cannot be missed, there is a lack of searchable items that given an incentive to explore this vast open world. The items that are placed in the game do not offer much to the player. The most refreshing element is the option to choose – these choices do not directly impact the story’s outcome by any means – which creates a different string of dialogue that often lead to a slick comment from Nathan Drake or simply created additional tension. While this level of choice was certainly welcomed, I could not help but feel empty since these choices didn't have any additional effects on the game.
The stealth in Uncharted 4 was something that I found myself truly enjoying due to each scenario being different from the others and never allowed me to feel comfortable with my approach. You could tell that Naughty Dog put tons of effort into these scenarios because the enemies change their approach in order to flank me or draw me out of hiding. It is hopelessly impossible to rely on a single cover or even the ammo itself; since it is somewhat scarce in certain sections of the game. These elements create the tension I have always desired and expect from the Uncharted series and know that I have them, I feel willing to go through the game again on the Crushing difficulty (without the infinite ammo code activated).
Through all of the cinematography and additional game play sequences, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was able to deliver through the open unlike in past games that relied more on the linearity to keep the player. That does not mean the latest entry in the series does not have any technical hiccups. As I would progress through the game, I would notice the frame rate take a dive when the explosions were plentiful in the later chapters. This only happened a few times and did not take away from my experience in the slightest as it is the best entry in the series to date.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End one issue came from within the narrative aspect. Following one of the biggest moments of the game, the third act takes a huge snail-like approach and does not regain its momentum that brought us there in the first place. As the third act progressed, I could not prevent myself from simply wanting the game to end. This is the only dark spot in the game which is overshadowed by the overall game itself.
In this third-person (over the shoulder) action game, there is nothing that screams innovation here as Naughty Dog obviously played it safe. Climbing cliffs or buildings function as they always have (by pressing the X button and using the analog sticks for guidance) and taking cover is initiated (pressing the O button behind an obstruction). What bothered me the most was the weapons in the game. Whether it was the Dragon Sniper or the Double Barrel Shotgun, I always found myself returning to my “go to loadout” of the M3 Raffica (Semi-Auto Pistol) and the FAL-SS (Rifle). This was not too much of an issue but I would have rather the developers at Naughty Dog force me to use different guns according to the situation. This would add extra tension as well as variety to the gun-play in the game; since the game does not offer a wide range of new weapons.
As far as progressing through one of the many environments of the game, I found that I can take a variety of approaches to any situation. For example, in chapters 14 through 18 I could either use stealth (through the entire section), pick and choose which enemies take out with a weapons before going back into stealth, or simply go into the section guns blazing in order to clear the section quickly (do at your own risks… things can get really hairy). These elements are very similar to previous entries in the Uncharted franchise but apparent in this installment. Having trophies to unlock make these choices in game play enticing (Ex. 50 stealth take downs). However, it is worth noting that if you have never played any game in the Uncharted franchise before, the game does a great job of introducing to each mechanic in the initial chapters.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is not necessarily an open world game, like Grand Theft Auto V, but the environments that the players are exposed to can be traversed freely. This, of course, is for collectibles but only gives the illusion of an open world. If you are looking for any RPG elements that allow you to increase the states of your guns and abilities, you will not find them in this game. The set pieces, the occasional puzzle along with interactive clues, and my personal favorite in any third person action game… the car chases really add a sense of variety but only in an effort to move the story forward. That is not a bad thing because this set pieces and sequences are the best they have ever been.
Sound of Music and Other Things
The sound in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is nothing short of amazing. Swimming through water, firing a gun, and even slipping off of a cliff sound as if it’s actually happening. You can tell that Naughty Dog really went to great lengths with this game and it shows. As I was moving through bushes and plants or punching an enemy square in the face, the sound was good to the point where I was becoming immersed into the situation. In all my years playing video games, only one other game’s sound had me believing it… Electronic Art’s Dead Space. The question that enters my thoughts is, “Where do the series go from here?”
Usually, games of Uncharted 4’s scope are accompanied by an impressive soundtrack. While music in amazing and guided my emotions, there was something off about the score. The music did its job in terms of preparing me from an emotional point of view but when I was in combat, the sounds of the guns as well as the hand to hand combat did not blend very well with the score. This is a problem for me because it could cause the player to lose the connection to the situation being presented. Hopefully, Naughty Dog can address this issue with a future patch at some point.
Once the campaign is completed, there is not much to do outside from cleaning up any missing collectibles or the game's online component. The traditional death match and domination style game modes are some of the most relaxed post-campaign elements. Customizing your character to stand out is one of the best I have seen in an online component. The interesting gimmick, and I use that term loosely, is the ability to earn items for multiplayer through the Android and iOS app, Uncharted: Fortune Hunter.
The ability to add an AI-controlled sidekick to help even out the odds is a nice through but does not really help; due to a surprising amount of time it takes to eliminate one of them (especially if teamed up on by your teammates). The game is able to keep up with all of the action in the online component due to Naughty Dog bumping the frame rate to 60 fps, unlike the campaign’s 30 fps. Everything looked beautiful as everything played out but left me wondering how the campaign would look and feel under similar circumstances.
The game play, however, is extremely similar to past entries in the series but also includes the newer functions from A Thief’s End. Players are paired randomly and tasked with outscoring each other (this is across all modes in the multiplayer) which results in the match being stopped once the target score is reached. It is a really nice feeling knowing when the match would be over; mainly because I have a set number of matches that I enjoy playing when I hop on the server. While the combat is bland at best, it is nice to being able to swing from a branch using the L1 button and then diving toward a fellow player for the knock down or the knockout.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a culmination of hard work, dedication, and being able to evolve. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a culmination of hard work, dedication, and being able to evolve. While the Naughty Dog did show its ability to evolve compared to other entries in the series, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End ultimately feels like there was a level of security that was taken as well as boundaries not being pushed all the way – Graphics aside – and it shows. Fortunately, however, the story telling, action, and dialogue are only marred by a huge slowdown in the third and final act. It is hard to imagine that this adventure could possibly be Nathan Drake’s last hurrah but if it is, I could say that it is better to go out like a champion than to become a shell of your former self.
|+ Amazing Story||– Third Act|
|+ Relaxed Multiplayer||– No Risks taken|
|+ Stunning Graphics|
|+ Familiar Combat|