Our spoiler-free review of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
“Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in.” – Michael Corleone (Godfather III)
Playing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, I’m reminded of that particular quote. But as opposed to the Godfather III, which I’d prefer forgetting I ever saw, Nathan Drake’s final adventure is exactly the send-off one could want for Naughty Dog’s stellar franchise.
Uncharted 4 begins by dropping you in the events preceding the original trio of titles and quickly establishes the relationship of Nathan and his older brother Sam. We then jump ahead 15 years to after the events of the series, and pick up with the fallout and what that means for this adventure. That’s about all that can be said without getting into spoilers, but know that the quality of the story is superb and delivers some of the highest stakes we’ve seen from the Uncharted franchise.
If there’s one area that still leaves something to be desired it’s the controls. For all the strides made in this series, clunky movement and a swirling camera can still derail the game. I experienced multiple sequences where character death happened because I got stuck on a piece of scenery or I couldn’t adjust the camera fast enough to move away from the shotgun toting enemy two-feet in front of me.
But amazingly it never completely detracted from the enjoyment I had with the game. The preset action sequences are harrowing. There’s still plenty of opportunities to either stealth or go in guns-blazing. And the side characters show competence, which was welcomed especially on the higher difficulty settings.
Like this super-awesome sequence of us hanging from a tree.
The action is what sets Uncharted apart from many other games on the market. It’s long been compared to playing an action movie and that experience still holds true. Twists, turns and plenty of stuff blowing up.
The world is also much bigger this time around. It’s definitely not considered an open-world adventure by any means, but the developers have expanded the areas to enhance the feeling of adventure and discovery. Plus, with more stuff to collect than ever, they squirrelled away pieces of treasure and journal entries that entices players to take in their entire surroundings.
New to the franchise is Photo Mode. A brilliant addition that lets you step back from the action and admire the beautifully detailed world they’ve created. And with Playstation’s share function you can easily upload your captured masterpieces to Facebook or Twitter. Just look at the one I took of Nathan smoldering on a mountainside:
“I’ll show you who out smolders who Mr. Volcano.”
Multiplayer makes its return and is a nice distraction. Action is fast and loose, and there’s lots to unlock which if it hits the right itch could add several additional hours of gameplay. It probably won’t make its way into my regular online rotation, but is fun enough to party up with some friends for an evening. The in-match purchase of upgrades is a cool feature, especially as cash is earned for kills, revives and generally scouting the map.
It’s hard to imagine a better game than what Naughty Dog delivered for the final Uncharted. It’s a proper send-off for the storied franchise and an early Game of the Year contender in its own right. And in the nearly 10 years since Nathan’s story began we also watched a studio grow into a powerhouse of game development. So while we bid farewell to this storied series, I can’t help but get excited about what the future holds.