Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Uncharted 4 A Thief's End Review

I want to start off this review by saying I've been a huge fan of this series since it first launched on the Playstation 3.  The Uncharted games encompass fun action gameplay, witty humor, memorable characters, and the occasional touching moment.  I won't say the games are perfect, but they are pretty amazing in my eyes.  That being said, I'm going to try to make this review as unbiased as possible, but if a little favoritism leaks through you'll have to forgive me.  To start off, this game has been touted as the final installment for long time franchise hero Nathan Drake.  Hence the title, A Thief's End.  The story is one of the places where the Uncharted series shines, so let's dive right in.

Uncharted 4 starts with a bit of foreshadowing.  We see our familiar hero with a yet unknown accomplice, driving through a dark ocean and trying to make their way to an island while being assaulted by military types.  Typical fare for the Nathan Drake.  After our heroes get placed in a perilous situation, the story cuts to the present.

We get to see Nathan and long time heroine of the series Elena Fisher have settled down in marital bliss and left the life of adventure behind them.  Nathan works a typical 9 to 5 job at a salvage company while Elena has continued her journalism career.  They seem to have a perfect life.  However, sometimes Elena will catch Nathan with that far off look in his eyes, dreaming of the adventures and life he left behind.

One day, Nathan's estranged and thought to be dead brother Sam shows up asking for Nathan's help with a treasure they were hunting before Sam's "death".  Sam tells Nathan that he was freed from prison by a drug lord who now demands a lot of money or else he will kill him.  Nathan decided to get back into the game for one last adventure in order to help save his brother.  The journey is filled with twists, turns, and the occasional familiar face.

The story is pretty standard for an Uncharted game.  There's a treasure that needs finding and Nathan Drake is the only man for the job.  What makes these tales so exceptional is the wit, humor, and personality of the characters.  Each character feels like their own unique person, which is a hard feat to pull off in a video game.  The only exception to this might be the main villains.  We've already had three games to become familiar with Nathan Drake (four if you count The Golden Abyss) so this game focuses on the relationship between him and his brother.  Sometimes we will jump into the past and see them together as children or adolescents.

The gameplay sticks to the philosophy of, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  There is a lot of puzzle solving involving climbing and using devices that are hundreds of years old and have no business functioning anymore.  The combat is your typical cover based shooting but instead of being locked to the ground, you can take advantage of your vertical movement and try to gain the advantage over your opponents.  The only real addition to this game over previous titles is the addition of a grappling hook, multiple puzzles that involve sliding around obstacles, and using tall grass for hiding from enemies.  Overall, the gameplay is very fun and never really feels overly complicated.

People who have read a number of my reviews might be wondering why I'm using more screenshots than usual.  It's because this game is pretty!

Here, look some more!

Once more for good measure.

This is the first Uncharted game on the Playstation 4 (not counting the Nathan Drake Collection) and Naughty Dog really took advantage of the new hardware.  Besides just stunning gameplay, the enemies seem to employ a little more intelligence when taking you on.  I found myself being flanked or even surrounded by enemies on multiple occasions.  This ensured that I constantly had to stay on the move and think on my feet.

Overall, Uncharted 4 is a satisfying send of for its leading protagonist.  The gameplay is similar to other Uncharted games but considering they refined it in previous titles, this isn't a bad thing.  Fans of the series will quickly find themselves following the same old routines.  The story is intriguing and will constantly leave you on the edge of your seat.

I would consider this one of the first must-play Playstation 4 titles.  Newcomers may feel a little lost so if you've never dabbled in the series, pick up the Nathan Drake Collection which has the first three titles for the PS4.  You will not be disappointed.

-Big O

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