I don’t think you really have to talk up Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End too much.
The developer has become synonymous with producing quality content on Sony’s flagship home console system, the Playstation.
From their first outing with the hugely nostalgic-inducing trip that was Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation One, through to the Jak & Daxter series on the Playstation 2; they returned again to produce not only the HUGELY popular and console-defining Playstation 3 title, The Last Of Us, but also a little trilogy titled Uncharted.
With actor Nolan North becoming the charismatic Nathan Drake in an action-adventure platformer, the Uncharted franchise resonated with the skill and craftsmanship Naughty Dog have become well-known for in pushing the very limits of Sony’s hardware.
While Uncharted had finished its storyline on the Playstation 3, Game Directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann felt that after hearing the fans were enthusiastic for more Drake, that there was one more story for him to be told.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, a Playstation 4 exclusive, concludes the story of Nathan Drake and for the 5 or so hours I’ve had in-game, shows that Naughty Dog have one helluva send-off planned for the character!
*if you don’t get the section titles, they’re all tracks from the musician Drake! Puns!
“I got my eyes on you”
Holy smokes, the visuals.
Look, let’s be honest; This is always going to be the first thing you’ll notice and Naughty Dog tease you like some saucy person in a club.
A provocative ‘Sony Computer Entertainment Presents’ in white text drapes itself over a black background and then you stare at the skeleton of a pirate in a cage against a jungle backdrop.
That’s classic Uncharted, because we’re not even at the fun part.
Once you select ‘Start Game’ and then ‘New Game’, you’re dropped into something you feel you shouldn’t be seeing.
The visual fidelity is incredible and this is the realest Drake we’ve ever seen. And while it’s exciting to take over this character, it’s when you start to meet other older faces, freshly realised in this new Uncharted, that you really start to see just how much work Naughty Dog have put into this title.
“We’ve been talking ’bout the future and time that we wasted”
Much like previous iterations in Uncharted, we get to do some time jumping in this one.
To where is for you to discover, but with us having that knowledge that Drake’s supposedly dead brother, Sam (Troy Baker), would be joining him on this new adventure, you can take a guess at the periods we end up in.
And it’s that juxtaposition which Naughty Dog have used to broaden the timeline of their games, having them bounce between time periods to present their story, that presents them in a way that’s very similar to how a film plays out.
“I told my story, it made his story“
Which is how I segue from the above into this piece here about the story!
Uncharted has been adored since it’s first title for having very fun game mechanics mixed with really great storylines.
And while the gameplay itself may be linear, the way the story presents itself is mesmerising and let’s you live out that wanton need to control a movie. You take this star, Nathan Drake, and you control his outcome. Though it may have a set result, the fact that you lead him toward it, that you have choices to make for him in this lavish story of adventure and intrigue is what makes a great game for me.
“I just wish we would fight less”
The fighting is as fun and brutal as ever!
It all feels very real, and while there still isn’t any real counter system on Drake (he still has his trusty evasive roll), the improved graphics bring a very real sensation to each punch, kick and tackle thrown.
When these start to combine with the environment, it becomes visceral in its delivery.
Of course the gun-play remains the same, because why fix something that isn’t broken? With it’s strong cover system in place and that insane Drake athleticism throwing him between objects as bullets rain upon him, switching between your short and long range weapons has never been so fun…and beautiful!
“I’ll hang you with it after I teach you the ropes“
Even I’ll bring up the whole “why didn’t we have this mechanic earlier?” question.
While they explain the “hows” of learning the new grapple technique and “why” we not have it, in some ways it makes it even more ponderous as to its exclusion from the previous Uncharted stories.
But as you start to use it, you quickly get over not having it before.
It is ridiculously fun.
If you thought that Drake was already a crazy spider-monkey, then Uncharted 4 makes him a full-blown Tarzan. Some of the points at which you swing have ridiculous drops, walls to run on and insane corners to traverse.
And that means you’ll soon be thinking “wait…it wasn’t in the other games?”
“Jumpman, jumpman, I don’t need no introduction“
The first hour and a half with all it’s hits and cues is the most wonderful pre-title sequence I’ve ever played.
When you play it, you’ll understand what I mean. I felt like I should have been mad, but instead I jumped up with joy at the introduction and knew immediately that I was in for a fun journey.
From the meta moment when a certain cameo takes place, to the world itself and everyone that surrounds Drake, the game feels like it continues the quality we’ve expected from the series.
Every time I’ve jumped in, I’ve smiled the whole time at how much fun I’m having being back in Drake’s world of treasure hunting, and finding that my “one more level” often becomes more.
While there’s been a ton of titles that have made the Playstation 4 a worthwhile purchase, if you’ve been on the fence about buying one, then this is the game to buy it for.
This is what gaming was made for.
And to spend it with Nathan Drake?
Well that’s an adventure you don’t want to see end.