Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review

Reviewed by Matthew Nobbs on PS4

Uncharted 4 feels very different to its predecessors, it features a much darker, slow burner of a story, which is much longer than the other games. Much of the game feels like a brilliant cross between Uncharted 2 and The Last of Us which culminates in a truly astonishing experience for players.

The influence of creative director Neil Druckmann is shown throughout as Uncharted 4 follows the lead of The Last of Us in its methods for interactive storytelling. Throughout the game you can optionally follow the story of a group of explorers trying to find the same treasure that was reminiscent of the story of ‘Ish’ during the suburbs section of The Last of Us. Uncharted 4 allows for a lot more exploration and the existence of ‘side stories’ which include anecdotes from your companions throughout the game developing the complex relationships between Nate and his brother Sam, Elena and Sulley. This focus on Drake’s relationships allow for a darker sense of introspection throughout as Nate questions how his lifestyle and actions effects those around him. The adventure this time follows Nate and his brother in a race to find the lost treasure of Henry Avery – a familiar background to Uncharted players, but it still holds up well so why change it? The villains are satisfyingly dislikable and the story moves away from any major supernatural elements, which is a huge relief as I often believed these became less and less engaging in Uncharted 2 and 3 particularly.  The focus on Henry Avery and other pirates is a good plot point as Avery proves to be an overarching villain throughout, as he reflects the frivolous nature of Drake’s need to chase treasure and its draining effects on those around him.

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Gunplay is better than ever, this is exemplified by a number of open world fights which allow the player to tackle them in a number of ways, meaning that even if you are dying repeatedly on a higher difficulty it never really feels like you’re treading the same water over and over again. Rope swinging is more than just a novelty and allows for great traversal in and out of fights and a variety of weaponry allow for more satisfying fights, although a lot of key stuff is missing from previous games such as the ability to throw back grenades, and the hand to hand combat seems to have taken a step back from Uncharted 3. The major inclusion here is a legitimate stealth option, not only does it work well, but it requires skill on every difficulty and hugely satisfying on crushing playthroughs. It goes some way to answering the question as to why Drake is killing thousands of people every game. Although with no silenced weaponry for most of the game there are often points where you are forced to fight, or worse still funnelled into a room built solely for a gunfight.

Climbing is still cinematic, and hugely satisfying when timing the perfect jump after a mudslide or landing perfectly after a rope swing however there is still no way to fail basic climbing though – such as a stamina bar this means that there is no real  challenge when climbing buildings or cliff sides, which makes me wonder why they aren’t just presented as cutscenes. Although having said that, the introduction of a Nate’s brother Sam throughout makes climbing a lot less lonely, and feel a lot more interactive in sections. Control here has also become a lot more precise as the player can now direct Nate’s hands perfectly and climb slowly and more realistically up a cliffside rather than leaping repeatedly.

Puzzles are a major part of the story, but luckily do not feel over done. They are largely easy to figure out, although some hidden exploration puzzles are more challenging and enjoyable than somewhat basic story puzzles. Especially those that use the car and the winch which feel fresh in comparison to the previous Uncharted games. Having mentioned the car, driving ini both it and the boat is a welcome addition, allowing for a greater sense of scale without making exploration seem impossible. It’s a shame the car cant be utilised in combat situations all that well though, as often I found myself parking in the distance to sneak up to a watch tower, only to have to go and fetch the car when the battle was over.

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This game is probably the best looking game on the console right now, the motion capture is amazing, it honestly looks like a movie at times, the locations are beautifully rendered and I often found myself playing around with the photo mode because of this. Environments are hugely varied as Drakes adventure takes him across various locations and weather types (my personal favourite of these is the Scotland section, which is picture above). Voice acting is perfect as always, especially the recurring voices of Nolan North and Emily Rose as Elena. Troy Baker excels as Sam, but he and Nolan sound a little two similar so that sometimes during the car scenes I wouldn’t know who was speaking.

Single player takes 12-15 hours to complete on a normal difficulty and this feels satisfying. However trophy hunters will find a lot to fill their time with a crushing playthrough, and plenty of treasures and dialogue options to collect. Multiplayer is a great addition yet again, not as addictive as the Last of Us but definitely worth a couple of hours. Support post release has been good, with a recently released free map. Plenty of customisation options to choose from so I’m sure that fans of the multiplayer would be able to find a huge amount of entertainment out of this. Most importantly the multiplayer includes a playlist for beginners to use before playing against veterans, in my mind this should be universally available in all games as it make multiplayer a lot more accessible for beginners.


 

For more on Uncharted stay here at Echo Games. We will be live streaming Uncharted 4 so check out our channel: twitch.tv/echogamesuk

 

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