In Our Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review, We Explore Whether This Sequel Holds Up the Gaming Legacy Of the Series
Originally, I was extremely hyped for Uncharted 4 when I heard it first announced and could only wait with bated breath for the release date to arrive. But with the ever increasing pushbacks in the release date, I grew more concerned that something might be wrong. Why would they keep pushing it back and dangling this game I’ve waited for, for what feels like an eternity, right in front of my nose? Well, after picking up my copy last week and sitting down to play, it was definitely worth all the date changes, and all the worry. Naughty Dog and Sony did not disappoint me. In this Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End review, I’ll give a breakdown of my experience playing this game in all its aspects.
**SPOILER WARNING** This Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End review contains major spoilers regarding the story. If you have not played the game and do not want it spoiled, do not keep reading. You have been warned.
Graphics Score: 10 out of 10
Let me start with the graphics, because I feel like visuals put a definite emphasis on where you are throughout the game and helps place you in the characters shoes. For me, I believe the detail in environments is very important in games. It provides an atmosphere to what you are experiencing. In my opinion, the detail put in this game is very dynamic and beautiful, from the vast and deep oceans to the jungles and islands, I can tell that the development team has a passion for creating these rich and realistic visuals that appeal to our eyes.
The Gameplay and Story
Gameplay Score: 10 out of 10
Story Score: 9 out of 10
The story element for Uncharted 4 is a pretty simple, and relative to the other games it often feels short. But as you play, it reveals a deep moral undertone about obsession. Maybe it’s just the spacing between chapters that influences this feeling, but the play time for just the story is about 14 hours, whereas my playthrough took me only about 10, which again, feels kind of short to me compared to the other games. It probably would’ve taken me a little bit longer, but every time I would go to explore, I would happen to pick the right way to go, and with no real way of backtracking at times, feel I missed out on some of the collectibles.
Uncharted 4 begins with our protagonist, Nathan Drake, and a man driving a boat like crazy through a storm trying to reach an island while being chased by villainous boats. After which we see a flashback which reveals to the players that mystery man is none other than Nathan’s brother, Sam Drake. I found this particularly interesting because there is no real indication in the previous installments for him having any siblings. I personally thought that Nathan Drake was an only child, especially with the flashback sequence of Uncharted 3 when as a kid, he met his mentor Sullivan. The game then changes to a different flashback of Nathan fighting in a prison environment. This brings to light a mechanic I feel like they’ve changed since the previous installments.
The melee combat in Uncharted 4 seems to have downgraded a little bit. While you can certainly punch and kick and take down enemies like the others, there doesn’t seem to be any blocking (unless I was completely oblivious, but come on, I was too interested in what was going on in the game) other than dodge rolling which flares up my Dark Souls PTSD. It definitely made the melee portions of combat feel a lot more challenging.
The next mechanic which you saw in the earlier flashback as kids, but never really got to use until now, is the grappling hook. Now, this is completely new to the series, unless utilized in cinematic portions of the previous games. I really enjoyed this new tool in Drakes arsenal because it gave us something new, and made obstacles and areas in each environment you explore, well, more explorable. Another mechanic that is improved from previous games is climbing and jumping. I cannot tell you how many times in the previous games I would try climbing or jumping to a spot I needed to go, and Drake would do the opposite and (usually) fall to his demise. In this game, though, I feel they have definitely improved the response from the controller to the character model. It’s still present in this game, but to a much lower degree. Now, let’s jump to a different part of the story.
The game places us in a present time, a few years after Uncharted 3, where Nathan has retired from treasure hunting, is working a normal underwater salvaging job. This part of the game introduces another new mechanic that is presented multiple times throughout the game, winching. This goes hand in hand with another aspect that is a first for the uncharted series which is driving. You actually get to drive in this game instead of just sitting there letting an NPC drive for you while listening to some dialogue! The best part is that it is very smooth. It doesn’t feel jerky, or too sensitive when you’re driving your jeep around and mowing down enemies which leaves you very satisfied. It combines with the winch on the for when you are pulling your vehicle up a slippery road, or pulling something else down to proceed, this is for sure another prominent mechanic, just like the grappling hook.
Next in the story, we are given a personal connection to Nathan Drake. We see him in his office in the attic looking at all his old things he had from his previous adventures. You can tell he definitely misses the adventure and is bored with his everyday, average Joe life. I don’t know about you, but if I had to give up any of the things I am passionate about, I would definitely be pretty depressed myself which made me feel more connected to the main character and his struggle for normality.
In addition to the sarcastic comments, bad puns and jokes, and the extremely bad luck situations Drake finds himself in that help make this game so entertaining and great, the creators decided to add something even cooler for the fans. Now, I say this because in a part of the game I couldn’t help but laugh at and feel joy (with a hint of “Really? Did they really just do this?”) that they have Nathan and his wife Elena argue playfully about who should do the dishes, then proceed for Nathan to try and beat Elena’s score on her, as Nathan calls it “TV game thingy” which just so happens to be none other than Crash Bandicoot. (A game within a game, Gameception!). It feels like it’s Sony’s and Naughty Dogs tip of the hat to themselves, which in most cases can come off as arrogant, but I feel like they were able to pull it off because it felt like it was more for the fans than themselves. In doing this, they gave me that nostalgic feeling of when I was a kid playing Crash Bandicoot on my old PlayStation, which attached me to Uncharted 4 even more.
I could go on and on about this game’s story, and tell you the whole shebang, but I won’t. I want you to play it for yourself and find the same joy I had. This game is definitely in the top two of the Uncharted series for me. This game’s replay value is pretty high, especially if you want to get all the collectible items (treasures, journal entries, notes) and achievements for this game. I plan on playing it multiple times myself (but then again, I am a completionist when it comes to my favorite games.) But what if you play through the story a bunch of times, and you feel like you want more. What’s next? Well, why not try out the multiplayer? I certainly did.
Multiplayer Score: 9 out of 10
I didn’t think that I would enjoy the multiplayer as much as I do, as this is the first time I have played an online 3rd person competitive multiplayer. Here’s how it plays out: there are two different teams (Heroes vs. Villains) that consist of all the main characters from the games. One of the many things I like about it is to me it definitely feels balanced. There are two types of currencies in the multiplayer; relics, and uncharted points. I was almost worried when I saw that you can purchase uncharted to use to unlock things faster, but noticing you can’t use the uncharted points for getting the random bundle that gives you one-time boosters, or mods for your mystical items or sidekicks, my worry was relaxed. You have to use relics for that, and you can’t just buy relics, you have to earn them through challenges and trials. My one half-complaint on this particular function is that you only get three challenges a day for relics, and if you complete all three challenges it will only replace one at a time each day. I can see by doing this, it helps keep people playing, as well as not getting everything too quickly and being overwhelming to the more casual players.
There are four different types of matches you could do, team deathmatch, command, plunder, and ranked team deathmatch. So it doesn’t seem like there is many options like you would find in any first person shooter, but for how much customization to the characters and for how many maps there are to play in, I think it definitely makes up for lack of game types.
Overall Score: 9.5 out of 10
Overall, l highly recommend that everyone play this game and its predecessors if you haven’t already had the pleasure. And I believe that those of you have played the Uncharted games that have come before will enjoy this newest addition.