PlayStation 4 – Sony's Biggest Exclusive by Naughty DogIt's been a long time coming, but at last Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has arrived, seeing one of Sony's most talented studios, Naughty Dog, making its development debut on PlayStation 4. After all the hype and build up to this game you'd be forgiven for thinking there is no way it'll meet your expectations, but it will not only meet them, it'll surpass them in such a spectacular way that you'll be expecting to wake up at any moment, suspecting that what you’ve just witnessed was all a wonderful dream.
Uncharted SeriesAs with previous Uncharted games, the focus in a Thief’s End is firmly on Nathan Drake, except this time it’s more about his life than his adventures. The story begins by introducing us to his brother Sam and from there we take a journey through the past, present and future, with the game building a picture of just how he became the man and adventurer he is. Want to know what happened to Nathan Drake after Uncharted 3? You’ll find out. Want to know why he decided to scour the world looking for treasure? Well, it’s all covered here. While previous Uncharted games were as much as about the action as the story, here the latter is really the main focus, although that’s not to say that the action takes a back seat, as all the elements of this game will strap you in from beginning to end.
“Grown Up”When writing this review, I was trying to think of the best way to describe the game in a few words and came to the conclusion that it feels really ‘Grown Up’. While the previous Uncharted games showed some sign of maturity, here it feels like the series has really reached its peak. The unravelling of the story is at such a sophisticated level that it feels almost movie-like in approach. Each detail about all the characters you know and love seems to have been covered and you get a great sense of empathy as they go through the things that everyday life brings about. Every emotion seems to have been squeeze into the story, from love to lies, it all results in you being glued to the screen to take in every bit of detail that you can.
"Uncharted 4 feels more open than before"While many of the elements of Uncharted 4 are the same as previous games, a lot has changed. For instance, while you’ll still fight against armed thugs and follow the beaten path, the game feels a lot more open than before. In Madagascar for instance, you’ll drive around in a jeep as your head towards a volcano and instead of following a set path, you’re free to explore the vast land, finding hidden wells or other abandoned buildings which may hold clues or even the collectable treasures which we all know and love. Then there’s the famous scene, where Nathan and Sully are being chased by an armed vehicle, where again you can take different paths to avoid certain death, but somehow still end up at your destination. In this respect, each environment has very clever design which gives a feeling of a more open world without your straying too far from the story.
A Thief’s End – Action and gameplayAs far as the action goes, other new elements are introduced, such as a grappling hook which adds a whole new way to play the game. Whereas before you would simply climb and jump, now you’re swinging over huge gaps or leaping off mountains, while hoping that Nathan manages to aim the hook correctly or consequently face a huge drop to his doom. This also helps mix up the action too, as you can leap, swing and take enemies down from mid-air, making the action feel a lot fresher than in previous games. There are also other new tools, such as a pick, which can help you climb to new areas and when combined with the ability to swing and slide down mountain paths, this makes for some amazing and breathtaking moments.??People will likely wonder about the gunplay and intelligence of the AI, but you needn’t worry here as these parts of the game are just as challenging as ever. There’s all manner of weapons for you to grab and along with the destructible cover, as well as the enemies who are determined to flank you, it’s best to be on your toes. What I love most about the action is that Naughty Dog has really mixed up the way you can go about it.
Thanks to long grass you can sneak around in a stealth-like manner, taking out enemies from behind. You can even swim underwater in order to get around them without being spotted. It’s another example of how much the game has changed, while still feeling Uncharted in nature.??Of course, Uncharted is famous for its set pieces and there is no doubt that you’ll love what ‘A Thief’s End’ has in store for you in this respect. While some of these set pieces are predictable, they are no less spectacular when they do happen, having you think on your feet in order to save Nathan Drake from another wise inevitable death. There’s just so much to love about the game as a spectacle that playing through again once complete is essential. Not only will you still have treasure and secrets to find, but you’ll love what you see so much that you won’t be able to help yourself.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – GraphicsWhen it comes to presentation I think it’s fair to say that there hasn’t been a game that looks as good as Uncharted 4. To me, it looks like it has fallen out of an oil painting. The level of detail in both the characters and environments is astounding, meaning that you’ll no doubt be making use of the built-in photo mode to show off how good this game looks to everyone who’ll listen. It’s incredible to think how much work must have gone in to making every detail of this game look the way it does. You really need to see it to believe it.
With so much detail and love poured into the single player modes you’d be forgiven for being happy with your lot. However, Naughty Dog didn’t stop there, instead adding in a fleshed out multiplayer experience which is both fun and highly polished. I was expecting the multiplayer to be a nice distraction, but as it turns out, it’s a lot more than that, it’s a time sink. What’s great about the multiplayer is that you are eased in with a tutorial, which introduces you to the in-game store and helps you understand new features. One of those being the Mystical Abilities, which are supernatural elements from the Uncharted games, which help your team by either slowing down the enemy, showing their positions on the map and more. In addition, you’ll also be introduced to Sidekicks, such as the Sniper, Saviour, Hunter and Brute, all of whom will aid you, if you have the cash to call on them.
Multiplayer makes use of many features of the main game, such as the grappling hook and the clever mechanic which has you sliding down mountains. The maps seem very well designed and are a lot of fun to explore in-between being shot at. There’s plenty to keep you occupied too, such as Challenges which earn you Relics, and of course, the many game modes available at launch, such as Team Deathmatch, Plunder, Command and even Trials, which award Relics for completion. It seems to me that the multiplayer will acquire a community of players who’ll love it and as it continues to grow it’ll only get better. Either way its foundations mean that it’s off to a rather outstanding start.
Uncharted 4 – "Phenomenal!"It’s been a long time coming, but thanks to its jaw dropping graphics, storytelling and the performance of the actors, Naughty Dog have taken the bar from its current height and flew it into orbit, with the challenge for other developers now being to reach it. One suspects it'll be a long time before anyone does.
They say good things come to those who wait, but Uncharted 4 isn't just good, it's phenomenal!
Words by Joe Anderson
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Outstanding presentation
+ Some of the best voice acting around
+ Spectacular set pieces
+ Fun multiplayer
+ You'll want to play again
- It had to end