When I realized that the last Uncharted game was coming out this month I promised myself that I would not get it until I finished my two summer courses. However due to a lack of self-control I drove myself to EB Games, traded in two games and purchased the game at a reasonable price. Not being able to put the game down, I managed to beat the initial campaign on Hard by the end of the weekend.
The Uncharted series has been a staple in gaming for the past nine years. From it’s first iteration, Drakes Fortune, to it latest A Thief’s End, Naughty Dog has graced players with a compelling story, fully fleshed out characters and industry defining set pieces.
A Thief’s End picks up some time after the ending of Drakes Deception. We see titular fortune hunter Nathan Drake living a quiet, normal life with his wife Elena. The game takes its time to establish Nates new quiet life, free from psychopathic warlords and derailed trains. Nate is brought back into the fortune-hunting game when his older brother Sam, who Nathan thought was dead for 15 years shows up again in his Life. Sam is in trouble, he owes a druglord millions of dollars and the only way for Sam to acquire this, is by finding the pirate, Henry Avery treasurer. This was Nathan and Sams last expedition before Sams “death.” Simply put, if Sam does not find Averys treasure, him and everyone he knows will die. This raises the stakes for the two character.Uncharted 4’s adventure differs from its predecessors as it is not a story about seeking fortune or stopping the end of the world, but a race for one brother to save the others life. It’s a story grounded in its characters. While the adventure isn’t Nates most challenging, it’s the one with the highest stakes, and the player feels that. A Thief’s End is a story grounded in its characters and their progression, the game wastes no time bringing Sam up to canon through playable flashback levels that explore the brothers past. Nathans relationship with his long time friend Sully and wife Elena is also extenuated through the events of the story. This is a game where you genuinely care about its characters and the outcomes Nathans decisions have on them. Like I said before, this isn’t Nates most challenging adventure, in fact, it is more tame and realistic, but what drives it is its character, who are fleshed out perfectly by the game’s amazing cast. This is some of the best character development I have seen in a video game.
Onto gameplay, A Thief’s Ends gameplay differs from the previous games, but still feels familiar to long time players. Improved are the games stealth mechanics, which the game encourages you to use this time around by dropping you into sandbox environments that allow you to plan your attack carefully, tag and pick off enemies so that you are not overwhelmed when spotted. The variation of ways to complete certain sections of enemies leads to replayability. After completing the game, I immediately wanted to go back to certain memorable levels to see how I could have handled them differently. Gameplay elements from Naughty Dogs hit “The Last of Us,” Are clearly evident in this game, and enemy AI is generally smarter than it was previously. During gunfights, you can’t stay in one place due to enemies trying to flank you or shortage of ammo. This is a game that keeps you on your toes and makes sure you never feel comfortable in conflict, which adds to the thrill and difficulty.
Like other Uncharted games, the action and set pieces are simply jaw-dropping. No game does over the top playable action sequences better than Uncharted 4 does. Naughty Dog really does set the standard in this iteration and other game developers will most likely try to follow suit. My favorite sequences in the game, however, weren’t the enormous gunfights or crazy setpieces, but the downtime, where the game is calm and you get to explore the beautiful environments and listen to the conversation the characters have with each other. The game takes you to places that range from Scotland to Madagascar and it is all rendered beautifully on the PS4. Uncharted 4 is one of the most beautiful looking games of this generation. There are so many little details rendered in the game, such as debris falling, footprints and crumbling environments that you can’t help but just take a moment to admire.
In the end, Uncharted 4 is a remarkable game and the perfect end to the on series that truly got me into videos games. This is not simply just a video game, but a thrilling experience. It gives a grounded story driven by its characters who are at this point, matured and embracing their final adventure. It introduces us to themes of family loyalty, loss and finality and drives this story home through conflict. The gameplay is fun and offers variation to people who have different ways to play and new additions such as the grappling hook, and new characters such as Sam are introduced seamlessly. What Naughty Dog has provided us, is a game worth its $80 price tag in a day in age where other developers can’t say they;ve provided the same. Like I’ve said many times, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s end is a brilliant way to end one of the greatest video game series of all time. While bittersweet, Uncharted 4 is the game that makes me glad that I purchased a PS4 and is a more than satisfying ending to the adventures, trials and tribulations of fortune hunter Nathan Drake.
Final Score: 100%