In my first-impressions look at this game, I awarded it a perfect 10. Has my opinion changed now that I have completed it? Yes. I now wish I could award it a 10+.
Holding Drake’s latest disc in my hand, I was visited by the ghost of Uncharted past. El Dorado; hanging off of a wrecked train; riding a horse through the desert. Memories that I would be remiss to neglect, and memories that I will be adding on to with the release of this new opus in the Uncharted series.
They say even if the piper dies, his hands still play the flute, and that’s exactly the story of our hero. After getting married to Elena and deciding to live a normal life, adventure knocks his door again at the hands of his own brother, who had vanished 15 years prior. Together they join forces with our favorite sidekick, Sullivan, in a journey across the globe to hunt for the forgotten treasures of an ancient pirate.
I would love to expose more of the story, but just like an actual treasure, it is better left to be discovered for yourself. The introduction of Drake’s brother adds more depth to the story, as well as expands on Drake’s universe. It also sheds light on both brothers’ backgrounds, covering some origin side-plots and mandatory sibling rivalry.
Bar a couple dialogue choices that have no impact on the current story, and that are more of a nod for the fans who have accompanied Nate on all his past adventures, the story, while linear in structure, is one of the best written scripts ever. It employs an incredible storytelling approach, and is, by far, one of the most impressive narratives in a videogame, and will definitely leave its mark on you.
That said, if you just wanted to play the action sequences, or are simply replaying it to collect all the hidden treasures, there is an “Encounter” mode which abandons all cutscenes and story plots, and throws you in the middle of the action. Not exactly what a game like this was created for, but hey, there are some of us who apparently do not play games like Uncharted for their story. To those I say get out of video games and find a new hobby. Or at the least, play Gears of War instead.
Is this truly the end of Nathan Drake, though? Are Naughty Dog really ending the Uncharted games? You’ll have to play the game to its completion to find out.
Uncharted 4 is stunning, and I can not say that enough. Allow me to pick up my jaw off the floor as I describe how phenomenal and visually demanding the presentation is. With an impressive level of details that caters to even the minute details of flora and their environments, it is more than safe to say that from an aesthetic perspective, Uncharted reigns supreme, not only on the PS4, but as a standalone game. From the Mo-cap and the emotional reactions, to the hyper-realistic attention to detail, this game is a technical marvel that will force future exclusive titles to benchmark themselves on. Uncharted 4 also kicks The Order 1886 in the nuts for proving that eye candy can be fun. Really fun.
So much effort was invested on this title, and it won’t take you longer than a moment to discover that. You will notice subtle changes in a character’s emotional reactions due to a meticulous attention to facial animation on a micro level, and it will take you even sooner to take note of the magnanimous work that was applied on the world and its art direction on a macro front.
Believe me when I tell you this: Uncharted 4 is untouchable, and though I am a fan of the series, you would struggle to find a gamer unmoved and not inspired by this awesome franchise. When Nathan is scaling a building in Scotland, I didn’t miss my jumps due to bad gaming skills. I missed them because I was distracted by the beauty of the landscape. I mean look at this thing! It’s absolutely gorgeous!
But what I loved the most about Uncharted 4 were the new gameplay elements and approaches which added more freedom to your approach of the game. With new stealth elements, Drake can now stalk enemies, and tag them while plotting the perfect move before taking them down one by one.
Of course you can go all gun-blazing a-la classic Drake, but nothing beats the feeling of clearing out an area of enemies without shooting a single bullet. Other than that, Drake can now use the environment as a stealth advantage. You can hide in long bushes, awaiting your victim to turn his back before you snap his neck, earning yourself a stealth kill. Drake is also now equipped with a grappling hook, which adds to the chaotic and adrenaline-charged moments that have you jumping from one ledge to another before grappling onto an out-of-reach ledge. Not exciting enough for you? Try doing it with an avalanche racing at you.
Enemies are more dynamic as well, and fighting them off, while encouraged to do so by employing stealth, is a testament in how far the Uncharted games, and games as a whole, have come. Combat is dynamic, almost inventing itself for each encounter. Is Sam within reach of an enemy? He will take him down while delivering a sound bite to Nathan that adds to the immersion and realism of the game.
This won’t be an Uncharted game without your copious amounts of conventional destruction at the hands of guns, grenades, and TNT charges, among others. The environmental puzzle levels are still easy, but hey, if I wanted progress-halting puzzles, I’d play Rise of the Tomb Raider. Oh wait, there was no challenge there either.
When Greg Edmonson was replaced with Henry Jackman for the soundtrack, I was skeptical. I am an audiophile, and the music of the Uncharted series sits in a special chamber in my heart. One does not simply bait and switch this easily, but from the moment I heard the main theme, my ears were comforted.
There is a unique feeling that you only get when a soundtrack is perfectly composed to fit what you are experiencing on the screen. The Uncharted 4 soundtrack adds more magic to your journey, cleverly completing the whole experience. And let’s not forget the excellent voice acting, whether you are playing the game in its native English, or in the dubbed Arabic.
Personally I still prefer the English track as I can not imagine anyone else voicing Drake than Nolan North, but it is a matter of preference, and you will get the same quality experience regardless.
I never wanted the game to end. Very few, if any, games will be able to capture my imagination the way the Uncharted games have. Alas, as is the age-old adage goes, all good things must come to an end, and if this really is the last we see of Nathan Drake, then what a way to exit with a bang.
Nathan Drake, I salute you!
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is exclusive for the PS4. A review copy was made available to us via Playstation.