Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was the perfect way to say goodbye to a beloved franchise. With a rich storyline, graphics that are unparalleled, and characters both new and old to fall in love with – this fourth and final installment to the Uncharted series was well worth the wait for any type of fan.
Naughty Dog, the geniuses behind the Uncharted series and The Last of Us, is no stranger to a good storyline blossoming with depth and symbolism. The final installment opens up with with an action packed sequence that bleeds into memories of the past. How Nathan Drake became the man he is today.
“If there was ever a reason to buy a PlayStation 4, this title right here is it.”
The story centers around a pretty heavy theme of betrayal, regret, loss, family, and ultimately redemption that begins when Nathan and his brother find an artifact that has biblical significance. Saint Dismas, one of the two thieves crucified alongside Jesus according to scripture, was the only one who sought to atone for his sins. A murderer, a thief – he hung beside a dying man and faced his crimes diligently. “We receive the due reward of our deeds,” his final words that encapsulated him into memory as well as set the tone of the entire game.
Uncharted 4’s entire storyline revolves around a series of personal moments, monumental decision, and terrifying cross-roads that molded the characters we know into who they are in present day. The player will know the world of Uncharted better than ever before and this development was so perfect, so appropriate, for the end of an era.
The game starts out in true Naughty Dog fashion – with a cliffhanger. As the player is thrust into reliving past events with Drake, including his evolving relationship with wife Elena following the third title, this fourth installment becomes much more than just any other Uncharted game – this quickly became THE Uncharted game. Instead of dramaticized battles against mutated guardians or power-hungry mongrels, A Thief’s End takes a far more personal turn and it was immaculate.
Enter Nathan’s brother, Sam. After a plan took a catastrophic turn 15 years prior, the older brother of our favourite explorer was thought dead. Until one day when he randomly shows up on Drake’s doorstep. Looking abashed and weary, Sam then asks Nathan for help paying off a serious debt to a deadly group of criminals. In a fit of nostalgia, the brothers also make the decision to resume the hunt for the treasure cache of Henry Avery, which was a goal since childhood. This was a pivotal moment for Nathan as he is forced to choose between the comfortable life he built with Elena, or to return to the dangers and thrills that treasure hunting has to offer.
An interesting thing to acknowledge with A Thief’s End is the key difference in combat and the overall maneuverability of Drake. In previous games, the series focused heavily on third-person heavy combat but with this latest title, stealth plays a much more important role. There are many instances where the player can choose to take a much more passive approach to enemies than in previous titles and this is a testament to the character’s growth. Fans of the series get to see a whole new side to Drake, a much more quieted and reserved side.
The overall feel of the game is fluid, natural, and with a steady progression. The entire storyline flows at a natural pace while maintaining that balance of engaging the player with combat and maintaining a solid progression. There was one mechanical hiccup though that should be noted. I noticed during certain fights that achieving cover was a lot harder than it should be. Often times I would hit the prompt to drop to cover or to extend a grapple and the response would not register correctly usually resulting in a stand-still or the character being flung to the wrong side. A minor issue and overall did not impact the game experience as a whole.
This entire game was a playground of exploration and wonder. Almost no surface remained unexplored, un-climbable, or impenetrable. The freedom the structure within the game gave the player was insurmountable, with areas to learn the layout as well as several options on how to engage enemies based on the surroundings. The choices offered during this journey made the game infinitely more enjoyable by allowing the player to progress through the story in a style tailored to their choosing. Ruthless and reckless, or carefully shrouded in stealth? You decide.
The locations! Between the graphics, the geography, and the dynamicism – this game is one of the most beautifully done titles to date. From underwater exploration through crisp undercurrents, to the scenic mountainsides of Scotland, even the heart of Madagascar is not safe from exploratory eyes. The ever changing landscapes to conquer only added to the desire to play through this game to completion. Each place more beautiful – more intricate – than the last and this kept the rhythm of the story fresh and interesting.
As mentioned before, the cut-scene-to-action ratio is flawless. The cinematic elements within game are breathtakingly stunning and give a vibrancy to the story and its characters like never before while careful not to take away from the action. If there was ever a reason to buy a PlayStation 4, this title right here is it. This is what this generation of gaming is about and Naughty Dog set the bar high for other games of this class.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t delve too much into the multiplayer pool. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good firefight but after the majestic ride of the main storyline, the multiplayer just didn’t do it for me in comparison. The campaign had such a flow, a natural progression, whereas the multiplayer was nothing but pure chaos. With several Victor Sullivans, numerous Drakes, and other characters from the games all heaving every type of attack on the planet, it was just overwhelming. The amount of times I would see grappling hooks go whizzing by without purpose is alarming and frankly took some of the enjoyment out of it for me.
This feature of the game does offer neat new toys, like the aforementioned grappling hook, as well as beautiful maps to conquer. Naughty Dogs also implemented the use of Mysticals, which are tools to use in battle with supernatural elements. There are five Mysticals in total, each unique with what they offer the player and their team:
- Wrath of El Dorado – Throw this to unleash the El Dorado sarcophagus that players will recognize from the first Uncharted to release a hound of spirits to track and kill enemies within reach.
- Cintamani Stone – This Mystical’s origins lie in the second Uncharted and restores health and revives players that are downed.
- Spirit of Djinn – An Uncharted 3 Mystical that allows players to teleport but there is a catch: when active, the player will not be able to take cover leaving them vulnerable.
- Indra’s Eternity – This Mystical’s origin lies in the Eye of Indra motion comic and unleashes a slow motion effect on nearby enemies to provide the player with a tactical advantage.
- Staff of Ayar Manco – From the novel The Fouth Labryinth, this staff gives the ultimate advantage as its magic reveals the location of every enemy team member on the map.
The use of sidekicks, or NPC allies, are also readily available for use in the multiplayer facet of this game that provides additional skills with clases such as Sniper, Savior (medic), Hunter, and the Brute.
The modes of MP include:
- Command, which focuses heavily on teamwork
- Team Deathmatch
- Warmup Playlist
Overall the multiplayer was done well offering thowbacks to previous games, different combat styles, and enough variation to keep it interesting. But let’s be honest – most won’t pick up this title for the multiplayer, not with a story like that.
This story was breathtaking, heart wrenching, endearing, and intricate. It is action packed, immersive, and immensely progressive. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was the perfect closure to an epic series, an inspiring tale of loss, preserverence, adventure, and love. Of family, dreams, and choice. This title is one for the books and instantly became a standard for games to come.
To start your adventure exclusively for the PlayStation 4, you can order your copy today for $59.99 at the PlayStation Store. Or, if you want a good deal on Uncharted 4 be sure and check out NFM here for the best deals on all of your gaming needs.
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