Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, the final game in a series that has helped to define an entire generation of gamers. Uncharted 4 is great, maybe even best of the year. With almost seamless gameplay, beautiful graphics, an inventive plot and all around perfection on everything that defines the series. Uncharted 4 is an almost perfect end to the Uncharted series, something every reviewer and their mother has been screaming since its release. Of course it has its issues but they are entirely insignificant compared to the game as a whole. At this point the game would need to start shocking me every time I look away for me to really downgrade it.
The plot is inventive, sending the player in search of a massive pirate hoard. There is plenty of adventure, switching scenes from Scotland to Madagascar and I haven’t been so scared of a mummy since it was played by Arnold Vosloo. It feels like AC: Black Flag with so many famous pirates, treasure and pirate towns. I also have to give Naughty Dog props for not wedging in some weird mystic aspect halfway this time. It does ask the player for a lot of suspension of disbelief though. Small colonies of pirates able to design and build entire civilizations and elaborate death traps in a single lifetime in uncharted terrain? Maybe Avery was rich but engineering in the 1600’s wasn’t that good. Not to mention the trip from Scotland to Madagascar was considered near suicidal and could take months, if not years.
Disbelief aside, the game does get monotonous near the end. Large sections of the second half consist primarily of swinging, climbing and sliding around jungles. Like Naughty Dog created two new features and we’re damned if they weren’t going to get their monies worth for them. Sure they’re beautifully designed pirate ruins and jungle to search. It’s never long before the player will fall again, while climbing at impossible heights, to add drama for no reason. Players could practically set their watch to when Nathan would have a near fall or get ambushed by mercenaries. Character development is also really impressive. The villains for instance have semi-elaborate back stories that were revealed naturally instead of just dropping it all on the player at the same time. Without spoiling anything, Sam seems to be the odd one out, interfering more with other characters than developing himself. In the end he doesn’t really come out any different, getting what he wanted in the end anyways.
Gameplay is a sticking point because Uncharted 4 feels different from the rest of the series. It seems to emphasize stealth over anything else. It does the Assassin’s Creed thing by giving players the chance to hide if they are caught. Most enemies before the final part go down so easy there is little point to use stealth. Emphasis over all seems to be on exploration instead of combat or puzzles, which there is little of. Like The Last of Us the player has a sidekick most of the time that doesn’t alert enemies. So partners can walk right in front of the enemy and do nothing which kind of kills the pacing. They attack so poorly it begs the question what good are they to gameplay? Enemy AI on the other hand have received an upgrade. Maybe it’s a coincidence but multiple times I swear they were actually reacting to what I was doing and tried to flank me. Everything else is so-so, usually coming down to how well you can slide down a hill or swing across something which gets really tedious.
Multiplayer is average and operates the same as in previous games, except with a lot more rope swinging. There are some new features like AI partners and mystic specials. AI partners come in various forms like a heavy or healer, which can be useful as a distraction if nothing else. However, they have no sense of self preservation. More likely to run into gunfire or post up on the wrong side of a wall than anything. Mystic specials vary in usefulness but are generally entertaining, crossing themes from across the series. Nothing is really noteworthy but it seems something is broken when a person can kill you by running up on you with a charged melee strike even after getting shot multiple times.
Graphics is the one area there is little to no issue. Beautifully designed and varied settings, along with some of the best water effects since Black Flag. If anything they could have diversified a bit from the rocky jungle mountain thing but then what would player’s swing across? Driving sections were the most intriguing since they offered nearly complete freedom to the player and wide open areas to explore. There might not have been a lot of things to explore but it doesn’t matter so much. One section especially, where the player has to flee an armored truck making their own route was extraordinary. The truck reacting to every change I made was also impressive. While the world is massive and offers multiple paths for the player to choose from it begs the question why? While there may be multiple paths for the player to pick it doesn’t really matter because they all end up at the exact same place anyways. More often than not the different paths are clearly visible from one another, not even the illusion of choice.
Fact is, I can nitpick all I want but Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is nearly the pinnacle of gaming. With near seamless gameplay, astounding graphics and a great plot there is little else games can do. Any true gamer would be amiss for missing this game. For once Playstation exclusive actually has some real meaning. Much like the Batman series it seems Uncharted is wrapping things up in its prime. While the epilogue may have closed the door on one series it could have opened it for another.