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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Review

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Uncharted 4 – Review

Platform – PS4
Developer – Naughty Dog
Publisher – Sony
MSRP: $59.99 USD

(Editor’s Note: This game was reviewed on the PS4 with the game copy being provided by Gaming Instincts.)

Introduction

Naughty Dog’s first PlayStation 4 entry Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is now upon us. For those who don’t know, Uncharted was a franchise that was born during the early era of the PlayStation 3 back in Fall of 2007. The very first game Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune raised the bar for third person shooters in terms of storytelling, platforming, and visuals. Naughty Dog raised the bar once again in 2009 with the sequel Uncharted 2: Honor Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception in 2011 with the game fully utilizing the power of the PlayStation 3. It’s been a long time coming too see how Drake’s last adventure ends and the time is finally here. Let’s jump into the our in-depth review of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Story

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has a basic story that’s easy to follow and most importantly, very well written. Without spoiling anything, all you need to know is that Drake is now forced to go after a rumored pirate treasure that was captured and hidden by a famous pirate named Avery. For what reason or why Nathan is looking for the treasure, it would be a spoiler for me to tell you. However, I can assure you that the game has some of the best story-telling moments I’ve ever witnessed in a very long time. There are a lot of cut-scenes, but they’re fun to watch and you’re always on the edge of your seat starting from the beginning of the game. The story is being directed by Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley who are the same masterminds behind Uncharted 2: Honor Among Thieves and The Last of Us. One of the best things about how the story unfolds in the game is the pacing. At first, the game starts out slow for the first 2 to 4 chapter, but after that it really starts to kick in. Every time you finish a chapter you’re always left with some sort of a cliffhanger and you just end up going becoming so anxious to find out what’s going to happen next as you get closer and closer to the end.

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Thanks to Nolan North’s and Troy Baker voice acting performances, the two duo’s make Nathan Drake and Samuel Drake (Drake’s brother) feel alive and real. The villains in the game also feel believable and threatening. Beautiful animations and almost life-like visuals portray the characters emotions in one of the most eye-pleasing way possible. Everything from wrinkles, small facial movements and body gestures is animated in such a way that you almost forget that you’re playing a video game and instead you start to think that you’re watching a movie. Well…let’s just say that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a damn good movie with a lot of platforming, combat and character interaction.

Naughty Dog has always been quite good at telling interesting stories even if they’re based on some sort of reality, fiction or a combination of both. With Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End I believe they have raised the bar once again when it comes to watching a plot unfold as you play through the game thanks to the reasons I’ve previously mentioned above. The game’s conclusion is also one of the best I’ve recently seen in any video game as far as the closure of character’s story arch goes. The majority of the fans will not be disappointed and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is one hell of a ride.

Gameplay

For those who played previous Uncharted games then you know what to expect of the combat and platforming gameplay elements. The shooting mechanics in the game are vastly improved, more satisfying this time around thanks to a much better hardware, prettier visuals, improved physics and more realistic animations. However, as far as the basic combat goes, there is really no difference. It’s the same type of gameplay where you stay in cover behind a pillar or a box and pop out to shot and kill enemies one by one and so on. As a matter of fact, the cover system can prove to be wonky at times, there have been far too many moments where I wanted to leave cover and run across a room, but instead Drake decides to grab on to the nearest pillar or box and start playing a game of hide and seek. This was very frustrating because playing on Crushing and having a cover system that’s not fluid and has a mind of its own at times can lead to many deaths and an unnecessary waste of time. This is an issue overall because this is the 4th game in the serious and you’d think that by this time the cover system would be almost flawless but unfortunately its nowhere near that.  The biggest improvement that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End offers in combat is definitely the A.I. and how much bigger the environments are. The enemies now flank you a lot more aggressively from every direction they possibly can and they will even traverse the environment in full XYZ axis and climb up or down just to rush you and get you killed.

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These new environments are much bigger and feel more alive. There is a lot more verticality in the game now and thanks to these new additions it is now possible to tackle difficult combat sections by trying out various strategies. Previous Uncharted games we’re quite linear in terms of how you can engage in combat. However, all of that is now completely different in Uncharted 4. For example, a player can try to use a tall grass that’s scattered throughout the combat area to hide and sneak up on enemy patrols to slowly thin their numbers down.

If sneaking around the level is not your thing, you can always use the environment to your advantage and study the guard patrols to learn who to kill, where and when and at what time to jump from cover to cover. This is how Uncharted 4 evolved it’s gameplay systems and that’s by creating much larger levels, adding a small but subtle stealth mechanic and improving the overall gunplay. If you’re expecting some revolutionary combat system then look elsewhere because that’s not what Uncharted was always about. The franchise was always about epic set-pieces, fun climbing sections and Indian Jones type of puzzles that you find in caves, towers or some sort of interior environments and that’s what you will find in Uncharted 4 but on a much larger scale and tuned up than in any of the previous games in the series.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is also the first game in the franchise that lets you use vehicles and drive around freely in one of the levels where you can fully explore, find hidden caves, treasures and just drive around for fun or run enemies over if you wish. There are about 3 or so levels that feature some sort of vehicle play that you all know and love from previous games and the driving mechanics play smooth and handling feels tight. Nothing in Uncharted 4 feels tacked on or a last-minute decision, everything works great and makes sense why it was put there in the first place. Climbing has also received a whole new mechanic, now you can use your own lasso rope to swing around and cross large rivers, bridges or even jump on top of enemies from a ledge if you wish. Overall, Naughty Dog has basically added new things here and there for every part of the core gameplay of Uncharted and just evolved the formula and made it more fun than it ever was.

Multiplayer

Aside from the single player mode Uncharted 4 also caters to multiplayer fans with four gameplay modes including Team Deathmatch, Plunder (sort of like capture the flag, Command which is similar to Domination in Battlefield where you have to capture certain points on the map and Ranked Team Deathmatch which is the only competitive ranked mode. Naughty Dog has also thrown in a few new twists to make the multiplayer feel fresh like the ability to use supernatural relics and spawn AI sidekicks on the battlefield, The supernatural relics can change the tide of the battle depending on their placement and timing.  For example; the El Dorado curse spawns a totem that sends out blue spirits to kill off anyone near it, while the Cintamani Stone revives allies around it.

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In order to use these specials you need to earn cash while in a match and you do that by finding random treasure on the map and of course by eliminating the opposing team. The are 4 different sidekicks that you can pick from for your loadout including medics, snipers, hunters, and heavies. Each sidekick If you’re the type of person that gets addicted easily with multiplayer games then Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will keep you on your seat for a while. Overall, the multiplayer in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is fun and addicting, it also has an in-game store where you can purchase cosmetic items with real money or points that you earn in the game while leveling up or by completing daily challenges.

Final Verdict

Despite a few issues with the cover system being a bit of a mess when it comes to navigating it, the game’s good side can easily carry out the wonky cover controls and still provide quite an enjoyable experience. You will be captivated by the plot of the game and the visual fidelity of the game as opposed to being worried if the cover system will break the game for you. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the best game in the series hands down. The ending of Drake’s final adventure ends on a masterful note and it’s one of the best I’ve experienced in recent years of gaming. It’s safe to say that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is one of the first new-generation games that push the boundaries of visuals and storytelling to a whole new level. This is a game that must be played even if you didn’t play the previous titles or whether you’re a fan of the series or not and that’s because I believe that everyone should experience it. Just everything about this game felt so natural and believable thanks to Naughty Dog’s ability to pull off crazy technological magic tricks. They have definitely pushed the PlayStation 4 hardware and have proven what the PlayStation 4 can do. Uncharted 4: A  Thief’ End is a masterpiece of a title that needs to be experienced in one way or another, don’t miss this one out.

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