Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review

In the end, Drake saved the best for last.

There’s a profound exchange between Drake and Sam as they reach their final destination. “So Nathan, and be honest with me, how does this [compare] to your other adventures?” Sam asks. Nathan chuckles and replies, “Ask me again when we finish.” Nathan’s non-answer might resonate with players. Naughty Dog has raised the stakes so consistently throughout the series that it’s difficult to determine if his latest and final adventure is his most enthralling. Searching for Captain Avery’s treasure in yet another lost city might as well be a checkmark on Drake’s bucket list. In Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End , the journey is more important than the destination. It’s not as fast-paced as its predecessors, but that’s because it encourages players to pause and reflect.

To accomplish this, Naughty Dog penned a more personal story. Nathan has been spending his time diving for a salvage ship and going home to his loving wife, Elena. He leads a normal life, and insists on maintaining his new lifestyle. Of course, he abandons it as soon as his brother, once believed dead, informs him that he’s in trouble, and only the money earned from excavating Captain Avery’s treasure, which can only be found in the lost pirate utopia of Libertalia, can earn him his freedom.

The introduction lasts a couple of hours and the game doesn’t allow you to truly experiment with the mechanics until after Drake and Sam’s reunion. Symbolically, Drake has been out of the game for a while, and his older brother has yet to embark on an adventure of similar scale. Although of course there’s plenty of action, Uncharted 4 provides ample quiet moments for Nathan to reacquaint himself with his brother, as well as further his relationships with Elena and Sully. There’s a trivial mechanic where Drake can initiate conversation with the triangle button, and a couple of instances where players can select his responses a la The Walking Dead by Telltale Games. The real bonding, however, is displayed in the excellent dialogue, the top-notch voice acting – particularly the banter between Nolan North (Nathan Drake) and Troy Baker (Sam Drake) – and the realistic facial animations that carry over from cut-scene to gameplay. Bear in mind that it can become a bit overbearing – some chapters are light on the action, and there’s even a chapter later in the game where a long flashback occurs that might test your patience. It’s the longest single-player game in the campaign, and it does start to drag near the end.

Although still designed to be linear, the environments have also expanded, and, as expected, they’re more beautiful than ever. In the later areas, Drake gains access to a 4-wheeler and a boat, and as long as he returns eventually, he’s free to trek off the beaten path. Even without the vehicles, it’s difficult not to pause and click the share button every quiet moment you get. Uncharted 4 has a diverse color palette to fit the multiple settings, such as fall-colored brown of Scotland, rich red sands of Madagascar, emerald oceans, and, of course, the luscious green jungles and the obsidian-colored mountains near the end of the game. If there’s any complaint to be had, it’s the occasional dip in framerate and some noticeable occurrences of pop-in textures. However, considering that Uncharted 4 has such a diverse palette and is capable of delivering outstanding real-time cutscenes showcasing the same facial expressions as in game, I’d say it outclasses even the recently released Ratchet & Clank in terms of raw graphical power.

Uncharted 4 introduces a clock tower level that I feel highlights its platforming mechanics’ greatest strengths and most damning weaknesses simultaneously. Uncharted 4 introduces two new mechanics that call for proper timing: the rope and slopes. Often, you’ll combine the two. For instance, Drake might grab onto a ledge that abruptly collapses, causing him to fall onto a slippery slope, and his only chance for salvation is to hook his rope onto a branch and swing to safety – all in real time. In the clock tower, you have that plus the turning of gears and other components– some of which you have to jump through. Of course, with the turning of gears comes the usual frustrations: Nathan can become stuck at times on walls, odd animations sometimes occur that make me question whether or not Drake should or shouldn’t have successfully landed, and if you don’t align the camera just right then you might plummet towards your death. These are flaws that have carried over since the beginning of the series. They are marginally improved upon thanks to the new additions to the platforming mechanics, but it’s not like they ruined the previous games anyway. Still, at its best, Uncharted 4 seamlessly transitions from cut-scene to gameplay, making me feel like a true Indiana Jones.

Combat remains relatively unchanged, but again, it’s geared for a slower-paced, more thoughtful approach. Tall grass is abundant in Uncharted 4 , leaving you ample opportunity for stealth takedowns. You’re not limited to just waiting in the grass hoping for an unwitting fool to cross your path; you can also climb up onto buildings and chuck goons off, or you can swing from the rope and land right on top of someone. At its worst, you’re pinned down by the enemy who are grenade-happy and have skin that’s tougher than Kevlar. While Uncharted is a series that’s best used for combining platforming with combat, the grenades has always been an issue and a cheap way of enticing the players to keep moving, especially when enemies can flank them while they’re taking cover, focused on other enemies. It also would have been nice to see more options in stealth combat, considering it’s a smart tactic to use throughout the majority of the game. However, while it doesn’t have the most in-depth combat, platforming, or puzzles, it combines them all in a way that elicits feelings of being an action movie star. And it’s hard not to feel like that action star when you can take out a troublesome sniper by latching onto a ledge, swinging to the other side of the cliff, landing on top of the sniper, and then shooting his buddy.

If you want more fast-paced gameplay, there’s always the multiplayer mode. Admittedly, it’s much more fun, albeit incredibly difficult, to swing to the other side of the cliff and pounce on an unsuspecting player. Of course, on the surface it’s not the most impressive multiplayer mode, and it won’t displace Destiny or Call of Duty ’s fan base. Currently it features the following standard multiplayer modes: Team Death Match (5 vs 5), Plunder (Capture the Flag, essentially), and Command (capture territories), although Naughty Dog will provide more in the coming updates. You also have 8 maps to explore that survey the levels you experienced in the single-player campaign – all of which are full of exciting terrain to climb and exploit for your team’s advantage. There are different classes, although you can also customize layouts. There’s also a currency model where you collect money; you can buy these with actual money, but it never felt necessary. Multiplayer is designed to be about teamwork. If you go in solo, then you’re in for a terrible time (and likely bring down the rest of the team while you’re at it). It runs at 60FPS, which is a nice touch considering the multiplayer mode is faster-paced than the single-player campaign. It’s not the most revolutionary multiplayer around, but considering the single player is already huge, it is a nice bonus that contributes to the game’s value with platforming that helps separate it from the pack.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is different from the others. It eschews the supernatural elements of the previous games in favor of a slower-paced, deeply personal story that’s marred by some pacing issues. However, as usual, this entry pushes Sony’s console to the max. Whether or not A Thief’s End usurps Among Thieves’ position as the best in the series is unclear; however, this is Drake’s best tale.

Most diverse color palette in the series. 60 FPS for multiplayer is a nice touch even at 900p resolution. 30 FPS single-player, but what really sells the game is the real-time cut scenes. Occasional dips in framerate and odd animations in the single-player campaign. 4.0 Control
Traversing the many landscapes is mostly as fluid as ever, although Drake can get stuck to the environment when you least want him to. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Continues to excel in top-quality voice acting and sound design. Could truly feel at home in the cinema. 5.0 Play Value
Uncharted 4 features the longest single-player campaign yet and throws in a nice multiplayer mode as well. Also, new multiplayer maps and modes will be free. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Next-Gen Blockbuster Adventure: Uncharted 4 ushers in a more cinematic experience on the PS4 system with real-time cutscenes and new character animations to highlight Naughty Dog’s signature storytelling.
  • Dynamic Gameplay: Evolved mechanics give players many fresh approaches to gameplay, including new rope and grappling mechanics, added climbing moves and equipment, and seamless fluidity between melee, stealth, and combat.
  • Expansive Environments: Varied and richly detailed environments open up with multiple navigation paths to encourage exploration. Gameplay and enemy AI strategically leverage the wider design and added verticality.
  • Drivable Vehicles: For the first time in Uncharted history, drive vehicles during gameplay to make big moments even more spectacular and interactive.
  • Uncharted Multiplayer: Uncharted 4 will continue to evolve the franchise’s multiplayer experience on PS4.

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