Uncharted 4 has been the highest anticipated PlayStation title since the release of the PS4. After many delays and changes to the creative team at Naughty Dog which caused the project to be started from scratch with 8 months of work being scrapped, the game finally released on May 10th and now we can see if it was worth the wait.
First thing to note is that you should definitely play the previous games before starting A Thief’s End. There are many nods to preceding events which is a lovely touch that really shows care and attention to detail that veteran fans will really appreciate. The other reason to play is to appreciate how far this game has come over the years. Although I only recently played the games for the first time, I have enjoyed every moment that you get to relive with Nathan throughout A Thief’s End. This series is also one of the flagship titles for Sony’s Playstation consoles and are reason enough to buy the console if you haven’t already. The image below will provide a little reason why….
But in all seriousness, you should probably consider purchasing a PS4 and getting the Nathan Drake Collection along with the latest and sadly, it seems, the last Uncharted title. Speaking of Nathan, it’s time to set the scene a little. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is set a couple of years after the events of Uncharted 3. Nathan has a job, a home, his life with Elena with little evidence of his past adventures other than what is tucked away in boxes. Then Nathan’s older brother Sam, who he thought was dead turns up to remind him of their quest to find the treasure of Pirate Captain Henry Avery. Nathan agrees to join the hunt for the treasure and the rest, as they say, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Let me start by saying that this game really wants you to be immersed from the very beginning. There are a lot of cut scenes that seamlessly move into gameplay to set the scenes of past and present instances which I didn’t mind at all while others may feel there are too many. Either way, you can’t please everyone and some gamers don’t know when to just enjoy the ride. There’s a lot of emotion from the start and if you love Nathan then you’ll probably spend most cut scenes staring at his lovely face just hoping that everything will work out in the end. It really has that Last Of Us feel but not in a way that detracts from it clearly being an Uncharted game instead of a carbon copy which was always going to be the danger for this title. The story is great and fits well within the series modus operandi. From start to end, it is very difficult to put down and part of me wishes I had played it first and then streamed the game afterwards but I wanted to share the experience with others. I didn’t want to rush through the game but at the same time I wanted to constantly play it because it had me hooked and I thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay style this time around.
Your AI companions provide some support during combat as they can shoot and sneak the same as you. I was taken a-back when I went to stealth kill an enemy and Elena popped out of the long grass to take the guy out! In a similar way to Last Of Us’ Ellie, they run around and hide in plain sight yet somehow manage to get away with it, yet the second you come out of cover you will be spotted. An awareness meter has been introduced for enemies so you can see when they have noticed you allowing a small window of opportunity to hide rather than suddenly everyone knows you have arrived and opens fire. This is quite handy and certainly plays on the stealthy aspect of the game. In harder modes, I assume that this function is not implemented otherwise it would make it a little too easy. Hand to hand combat is the only thing I had a little issue with as there wasn’t much of a counter attack option unless you were prompted to escape a struggle. I found my fist fights a little difficult as I couldn’t dodge the punches by any means other than trying to roll out of the way but there is also the small chance that I may have missed the tutorial prompt and just never realised! The combat has stepped it up a notch though as there are more options for the ‘death from above’ too and there is something satisfying in rope swinging towards an enemy and taking them down from above but I still enjoy sneaking around in bushes and breaking some necks!
Something that has struck me through the Uncharted games is that they always had the best graphics available at the time of development. Each game is impressive in its own right and Uncharted 3 was the pinnacle of stunning. Then The Last Of Us arrived and blew expectations out of the water so I knew that Uncharted 4 would not disappoint. It is beautiful. The attention to detail is phenomenal and in a similar way to Rise of the Tomb Raider, the surroundings make you want to explore and spend time enjoying the vista. Even Nathan’s face is so gorgeous that you wish he was not made up of pixels so you could share at those lovely eyes for hours…. But I digress. It is very easy to forget you are playing a game. As mentioned earlier, game play and cut scenes intertwine beautifully and suddenly you’re 3 chapters in. I strongly suggest taking time out to enjoy the views and utilise the photo mode to capture some of your favourite scenes as I have for this review. Naughty Dog have gone a step further in proving how awesome they are at these games. They have certainly mastered physics in this latest installment and watching the waves move when something drops into the water or seeing rocks slide down inclines as they should is highly impressive. They have also tried to show off nature in its best video game form by introducing animals that seem real within the environment but I couldn’t believe it when I saw a turtle scuttle out of the water and head for a small alcove! It’s just stunning. Everything has a purpose and it has somehow managed to go one step further than Last Of Us. Even Sam’s reactions to torchlight shining in his eyes is not forced and seems completely natural. It’s truly wonderful and should definitely be applauded.
The puzzle element is back and it is as if Naughty Dog realised that more puzzles were needed. Similarly to Tomb Raider, puzzles are key in treasure hunting and while gun fights and the like are great fun, we want puzzles. I didn’t find them frustrating or repetitive and there were challenging enough that you know what to do but they don’t make it too easy. Collectible Treasures are back and dotted around for you to discover along with notes for you to jot down in your journal. There are many nooks and crannies to explore where hidden treasures reside so it is worth taking your time to look around if you want those all important trophies. Nathan’s journal is a big part of the storytelling this time around and is utilised mostly for the puzzles but also giving clues about what happened with all the Pirates so use it and read the notes you come across.