(The following review contains minor spoilers that were known pre-release. Also: multiplayer will not be factored into this review)
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End released almost ten years after the original. With a few game of the year awards in their back pocket and an established reputation as one of, if not the best developer in the world, Uncharted 4 came out with an immense amount of hype. Would the game have the same lovable characters, incredible set pieces, and a fun gameplay that the original trilogy possessed?! Well, unsurprisingly, the game totally delivered on every front.
Uncharted 4 takes place a few years after Uncharted 3 as Drake has now retired to a normal, boring life. He’s now married to the love of his life Elena, and everything seems to be going great. The marriage is working out. Their years of discovering ancient cities garnered enough treasure to pay off the mortgage, and they are happy. However, it all gets turned upside down when Nathan’s long lost brother, Sam finds Drake. With that, players get sent on a narrative that will be remembered for years to come.
Uncharted 4 has players try find Libertalia, a mythical (we think) pirate paradise that was supposedly created by Henry Avery and a multitude of other pirates to escape the law and store their treasure. Uncharted 4 took me all over the world to find clues about Libertalia, and the game did it with a lovable cast, incredibly fun gameplay that has a couple mechanics, and graphics that make it the most beautiful game to ever hit store shelves.
The first thing I noticed while playing Uncharted 4 is the focus on Drake’s past. Other than some quick childhood segments in the third game, I never really knew anything about Drake’s past. In Uncharted 4, that changes. The game kicked off with an awesome prologue and then tossed me right into a segment that took place many years prior. I learned more about Drake and his past in this game than I had the approximately thirty hours I spent beating the first three. The game significantly benefits from it, as well, as the stakes felt higher than ever. Along with that, it also gave me the real reason why Nathan was so obsessed with treasure hunting, which was something I had been wanting for years. While the chase for treasure was a great one in this installment, for me anyway, the back story was what got my interest. In a way, this game feels similar to me how Metal Gear Solid 4 felt. So many answers to all kinds of questions.
The story this time around seems more grounded and more mature than the prior three, and much like the more focused back story, the game largely benefits from it. While there is no shortage of Nathan’s signature one liners, the game reminds you that this adventure has do or death consequences with each chapter the game throws at you. This might have not happened if the cast wasn’t so damn lovable. While series regulars such as Nathan, Victor, and Elena were as lovable as before, Sam really steals the show here. The big brother to Nathan, you quickly see Sam’s influence on Nathan, and the voice actors, for both the younger and older versions of the characters, make the brothers’ relationship seem incredibly fleshed out. It didn’t take long for me to like Sam, as the game does a great job of integrating him with most of the cast. Uncharted 4 borrows the optional conversation mechanic from The Last of Us and it works out brilliantly as it’s used to, not only produce funny dialogues among the cast, but to delve deeper the past concerning Nathan, Sam, and Victor. There are a couple new villains in the game, as well. Rafe is an excellent character. He’s one of those characters you love to hate as he is extremely arrogant and sarcastic. He’s driven by one goal, and he’ll do whatever he can to achieve it. The other new villain, Nadine, isn’t as extreme, personality wise, but she is an incredibly capable, strong female character that I appreciated. Naughty Dog continues to lead the charge when it comes to that front.
There are some new mechanics in Uncharted 4 that we always needed, but didn’t know we needed it. One of them is the new grappling hook that opens up a whole new strategy to tackling, literally and figuratively, the game’s enemies. Not only does it bring fluidity to intense gun fights, it also brings more strategy into the other new mechanic, stealth. While stealth isn’t completely new for the series, it’s expanded upon enough to be a viable option during most parts of the game. There are now detection meters above enemies heads, and along with that, you can now tag enemies to keep track of them while sleuthing around. While the stealth isn’t on the level of Splinter Cell or Metal Gear by any means, it’s still enough to give players a completely new way to experience Uncharted. There are some parts of the game where stealth isn’t allowed as it reverts to the original formula of set piece -kill mercenaries- set piece, and that’s alright because it kept me on my toes through the intense 15 hours it took me to beat the game. While I won’t spoil the fantastic ending, I will say that the final boss fight, in my opinion, will go down as one of the best in history. The gunplay is more refined and the hand to hand combat feels more satisfying than ever.
With a great story, exciting gameplay, the best graphics ever seen on a console, and a cast that I’ll, along with millions of other Uncharted fans, will never forget, Uncharted 4 has surpassed my expectations. Despite being title, “A Thief’s End”, we truly don’t know if this will be the last Uncharted game. If it does end here, the ending was utter perfection. If not, I’m looking forward to the next adventure that Naughty Dog throws at me. Whatever happens, this game has defined the new generation and will go down as one the greatest masterpieces ever created.
Final Score: 10/10
Developer: Naughty Dog
System(s): Playstation 4
Release Date: May 10th