The Uncharted series is arguably Playstation’s most important series. And Uncharted 4 is arguably the most important game in that series. Even though Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was the game that made Uncharted so popular, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the game that brings the story to a close. An Uncharted 4 Review should consider the legacy of the series as well while judging it.
1. The Setting
Needless to say, like its predecessors, Uncharted 4 is a globe-trotting adventure. An Uncharted 4 Review is incomplete without looking at its location. All Uncharted games feature iconic locations and breathtaking scenery. However, Uncharted 4 takes it to an altogether different level.
The game takes you to places such as the Scottish highlands and all the way to the grasslands of Madagascar. The real star, however, is the pirate colony of Libertalia. Beautiful and mysterious at the same time, the jungle-island is a sight to behold from a technical as well as aesthetic point of view.
A large part of the achievement boils down to the power of the PS4. However, kudos to Naughty Dog for their attention to detail in realizing the locations in great detail. Each and every thing in the game world is hand-crafted with utmost care.
I would give the Uncharted 4 setting a score of 10/10.
2. The World
As good as Naughty Dog are with their settings, they are actually better in their story and character departments. Uncharted 4 is no different.
The story of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End starts many years after Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Our hero, Nathan Drake, has basically retired from his treasure-hunting adventures and has settled for a mundane desk job. The only adventure in his life are some diving salvage jobs in local rivers for pieces of scrap. He is now married to Elena and even though he is happy with her, there is something missing in his life.
And as it happens in such situations, the call to adventure comes in a most unexpected manner. Drake’s elder brother, whom he thought dead, suddenly arrives knocking one day and forces his brother to help him in sorting out a shady business from the past. Needless to say, Drake leaves everything and decides to help his brother.
It is the classic case where our hero keeps going one step further down the path he had left behind hoping to finish it soon. However, the adventure nearly consumes him. This is NOT a Nathan Drake who enjoys killing hundreds of people. He is a weary Drake pulled into this mess just to save his brother.
However, the lines blur and soon the seemingly simple treasure hunt becomes a race to the survival and brotherhood. The lingering question is that whether Drake can truly escape his past and live a normal life? And how far is he willing to go to help his brother?
An Uncharted 4 Review definitely needs to consider the characters.
As usual Naughty Dog writes great characters.
Nathan Drake is superbly played by Nolan North. This time the range of emotions Drake goes through are much larger allowing Nolan North to really do a lot with the character.
His brother Sam Drake, played by Troy Baker is a great addition. However, the nature of the story is such that his addition does feel a little contrived. Never in Drake’s past adventures did he mention having a brother. Therefore, his inclusion seems like an afterthought in Nathan Drake’s overall story.
Elena is superbly played by Emily Rose. Like Nolan North, she also has a much larger range of emotions in this game. Sully, however, does not get the same attention we are used to from the past. He is there in the story but not as a truly important character probably because of Sam’s larger role.
The villains are pretty convincing. Rafe and Nadine are sufficiently menacing even though there motivations are not so clearly explained. However, they are much better than the generic villains of the past Uncharted games.
But having said that, Uncharted 4 does not reach the storytelling heights of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Tonally, the game does try to emulate the impact of the Last of Us. However, the whole treasure-hunting adventure vibe does not go seamlessly with a more serious tone. Overall I would give the Uncharted 4 a score of 9/10 for story and characters.
3. The Gameplay
Combat in Uncharted games is generally not the strongest aspect of these games. And here also, it’s no different.
As usual, platforming is pretty good. In fact, to its credit, this time the platforming feels a lot more organic and there are multiple paths to follow. Also, there are new mechanics such as a rope-hook and sliding sections. However, most of the surprises are still the same. Such as a structure Drake climbs upon suddenly collapses. Or a roof Drake jumps on suddenly caves in.
Gun play is serviceable but Uncharted is no shooter. Cover mechanisms work fine except when they don’t. And enemies do feel like bullet sponges at times. This time there are more stealth sections possibly inspired by the Last of Us but they lack the tension of the Last of Us. You can basically blaze your way through most of them and nothing would happen. Melee combat has been tweaked but it still lacks the gut wrenching reality of the Last of Us.
However, vehicle driving is new mechanism that has been added. And it feels great. In certain sections of the game, you get to drive a jeep making the world feel a lot more open. Even though it’s no open world but the illusion still holds and the game becomes better because of it.
The set-pieces are amazing. In fact, Uncharted 4 has some of the best set pieces in the entire series. The most notable one is, of course, the well-marketed chase sequence that starts in a market and goes all the way through a busy city and into the marshlands before culminating in a shipping port. It is magnificently orchestrated with amazing camera angles thereby creating an adrenaline rush. During such sequences, the game truly looks and feels like the Uncharted we know and will always remember.
Probably, it would have been better to stick more to the action-oriented nature of Uncharted. However, as it stands, I would give Uncharted gameplay a score of 8.5/10.
4. The Missions
Uncharted series is known for its set-pieces and inventive missions. A true Uncharted 4 Review would be incomplete without looking at this essential aspect.
Some of the missions in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End are remarkable. For example, an earlier mission sees you escape from a prison after one of your group murders the warden. The chase that ensues is breathtaking.
You get to replay a similar escape through the same prison but with a different perspective. That is equally intriguing. Another mission has Nathan Drake and his brother Sam sneak into a house as kids as they learn of their past and their family. There is hardly any action in the segment but it provides a great insight to the characters and how they came to be what they are today.
In another section, you drive a jeep through the plains of Madagascar. It’s the closest Uncharted has ever got to an open world setting. The character interactions in that segment are great. It could arguably be the great set-piece in an Uncharted game.
The missions in the last half of the game on the pirate colony, however, are some of the best. The jungle island provides a perfect blend of space for combat as well as stealth. And plus you also get to drive your trusty jeep as you explore the jungle. Those sections make the game much deeper. In fact, some of the quieter sections when you explore the ruins are some of the best sections of the game.
Overall, the pacing of the missions is great. The whole thing plays out like a classic movie with twists and turns. If it wasn’t a game, it would have been one hell of a movie.
Overall, I give Uncharted 4 a score of 10/10 for the missions.
5. Technical Aspects
Technically seeing, Uncharted 4 is a flawless game. Basically, this game would be the reason to buy a PS4.
Naughty Dog is one studio that literally pushed the boundaries of the PS3 with Uncharted 2 & 3 and the Last of Us. With Uncharted 4 on PS4, their reach is greatly enhanced. During my playthrough, I didn’t notice any frame-rate issues or any glitches.
In fact, the attention to detail in this game is staggering and it all runs smooth as butter. This time around, the game physics is also much better with walls breaking apart into multiple pieces when hit with bullets or the foliage moving around as you walk through it. Each blade of grass, each leaf responds to your movements thereby greatly improving the immersion.
Overall, I would like to give Uncharted 4 a score of 10/10 on technical aspects.
The Final Verdict on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
With this we conclude our Uncharted 4 review.
Based on all the above parameters, our final score for Uncharted 4 is 9.5/10.
So should you buy Uncharted 4?
In my view, YES you definitely should.
If you are a fan of the Uncharted series, there is no reason to miss the final chapter in Drake’s story. If you are new to the series, it is still an amazing entry to the series and one of the finest games available on the PS4.