Uncharted 4: A Thief's End makes for a great value addition to the PS4, it's what the console was built for. So how does it fare?
Calling Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End one of the most anticipated games of the year would be an understatement. This is the game the PS4 was built to play and it shows. Developer Naughty Dog also claims that this is the final Uncharted game. This is Nathan Drakes last adventure. Is it a fitting finale to our treasure hunting protagonist or are we left wanting more?
The story of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End picks up a few years after the events of Uncharted 3. Treasure hunter and mass murderer (we have killed enough people over the course of four games to classify Nathan as a mass murderer. Not a cold-blooded killer, but a mass murderer nonetheless), Nathan Drake has settled down with the love of his life, Elena Fisher, and has a desk job that occasionally lets him go underwater diving.
During the course of his now boring life, we are introduced to Nathan’s long lost brother, Samuel “Sam” Drake. Sam convinces Nathan to leave the comfort of his couch and hot cocoa and embark on an adventure the two started years ago – the quest to find the pirate, Henry Avery’s long lost treasure.
During the course of the journey, you will be introduced to the new antagonist in the game along with returning favorites like Victor “Sully” Sullivan. Too bad Chloe doesn’t make an appearance in the game.
Telling you anything more about the story would simply mean spoiling it. True to tradition, the treasure hunt feels like a wild goose chase initially until certain secrets are uncovered reinforcing the existence of the treasure. There are the usual plot twists and turns in the game and some very unexpected surprises which I must say, I enjoyed. But for the most part, the story is quite straight forward.
The only downside to the story is that Sam feels forced. Sure, there is the whole cover-up as to why he wasn’t mentioned in the previous games and the build-up to the relationship that the brothers share is very good but this could just have been “the last adventure Nathan Drake embarks upon before making his final retirement” without the inclusion of the brother. That’s the only qualm I have with the story. The game has certain obvious story elements that will appeal to those that have played the Last of Us, Crash Bandicoot, and other Naughty Dog games. You will also be able to see elements in Uncharted 4 that have been lifted straight from the Last of Us.
Overall, if you are one that enjoys story based games, this one will definitely appeal to you. There are a few places in the game where you get the option to choose what Nate says and these sequences seem forced. There is no real alternate outcome and its existence makes no difference to the game.
Moving to the gameplay, this is where the game shines and falls a little short as well. Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first. There are a lot of set piece moments in the game and all of them are well spaced throughout the game. The game kicks off with a set piece boat chase, followed by some quiet time, then some action, another set piece, then a puzzle, another plot twist, puzzle, set piece, you get the drift.
If you have played an Uncharted game, you will feel right at home with the gameplay. Running and gunning are fluid, the animations are sublime and enemies are no longer bullet sponges. Speaking of the enemies, you now have the ability to tag their position just like you did in Metal Gear Solid 5. This is particularly helpful as the environments you encounter enemies in are pretty large. This is also helpful if you are one looking to play the game stealthily. Yes, you can play stealthily and even if the enemies spot you can hide from them and they will go into a caution mode. When an enemy notices you a little diamond above his head becomes yellow, so you still have time to hide. When it becomes red, all the enemies will come guns blazing at you. The is a good departure from previous games when it comes to combat.
Another interesting addition is the grappling hook. You have the ability to grapple onto conveniently located grappling hooks placed throughout levels and take down enemies. Once you get addicted to this, there is no going back. You will miss the grappling hook if you play previous Uncharted games after this.
Coming to the puzzles, there are quite a few in this game and I’m happy to say, that there are some that are really interesting and fun to solve. There are others, that involve moving a box from point A to point B to get to the next cutscene and after 4 games of doing this, it’s a little annoying.
|Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Coming to the cons of the gameplay, it is the quiet moments that get to me, and not in a good way. I loved the quiet moments in the Last of Us, but that’s because it fit the flow of the story. When it comes to Uncharted 4, quiet moments usually involve traversing environments or solving puzzles, not staring at relics from the old Uncharted games or walking through a mansion investigating everything in your path. It does get a little annoying.
Coming to the high point in the game – the set pieces. They are absolutely stunning to experience. From collapsing buildings to boat chase sequences to driving a jeep through a city to grappling through various ruins, the set pieces are nothing short of a Christopher Nolan film.
Overall the gameplay of Uncharted 4 is a lot of fun even if it’s the same formula we have seen in previous games in the franchise. The addition of the grappling hook is great and with such large environments to fight in, the experience of a cover based shooter is refreshed if not redefined.
If a game can look this good on a PS4, then why is Sony planning on releasing the PS4.5? Uncharted 4 is absolutely gorgeous running at 1080p 60fps. There are high-octane action sequences when it feels like the frame rate has dipped, but that can be forgiven considering the grand scale of things. There is so much attention to detail in the game. From the protagonists sweating to the grappling hook swinging on Nathan’s belt to the lighting effects, light bouncing off water, mud animation, the game looks stunning. Attention to detail is one of Naughty Dogs forte and it shows.
Another commendable thing is that there are no loading screens throughout the game, even if you die. The only time you will see the loading screen is when you fire up the game and when you skip a cut scene. Apart from that, the game is one seamless adventure.
Moving to the sound in the game, the original star cast is back to voice the characters with the addition of Troy Baker to don the role of Sam. Its needles to say that the voice acting is top-notch and this is one of Troy Bakers better performances (better than what he did with Metal Gear Solid 5 anyways). The voice acting is very fluid and there are a lot of contextual dialogues based on what’s happing on-screen.
Moving on to the orchestral score, the one here is extremely immersive. From absolute silence during stealth to fast paced music during an action, the music is very immersive. There is also some pirate music that plays in the background when you are around Avery’s treasure and it’s quite entertaining.
The bangs and thuds of the explosive sequences to the gunfire sound effects to simple thuds, the sound design of the game is undoubtedly top-notch.
The multiplayer in Uncharted 4 is the same as it was in the previous iteration. It’s fast, fluid and will run smoothly on a 1 MBps connection. The level design is the highlight of multiplayer, bringing large open levels with scope for a lot of vertical traversing. There are three multiplayer modes – team deathmatch, capture the relic, and king of the hill. What makes these simple modes fun is the inclusion of supernatural abilities that your character can exploit for a short period of time. Overall the multiplayer is fun and the connection was solid. I was playing online via WiFi using a Binatone entry-level router, and an 8 MBps Internet connection.
Verdict – UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’s END
So, is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End a fitting finale to a franchise that has been with us for about a decade? The short answer is yes, but the game isn’t perfect. Some of the quieter moments aren’t very immersive or interesting and you can’t skip them completely. This can get annoying especially during the second play through. The environments, though large, sometimes feel empty and are vast just because the developers could make them so. Also, apart from collecting treasures, there is little to do in some of the environments except stare at the gorgeous vistas. Some underground caves do give you the feeling of getting lost because they are so big and that’s good but at other times, it feels a little empty. There are times when some action sequences feel rinsed and repeated. As a package though the game is fun, especially for fans of the franchise. It’s a long game, clocking in at about 15 hours for the story and another 50 or so before you get tired of the multiplayer.
If you have played the previous games in the franchise, you will have undoubtedly played this one already. If you are new to the franchise and haven’t played the previous games, relax. You will enjoy this nonetheless. Just for the visual treat this game is worth your attention. It’s the Indiana Jones adventure we’ve been waiting to play.
|Stellar graphics||Some sequences feel stretched|
|Epic set pieces||Quitter moments may not appeal to all|
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.