Nathan Drake’s Last Hurrah Takes The Uncharted Series To New Heights
After last year’s Rise of the Tomb Raider, I thought the mountain-climbing, cave-crawling, artefact-discovering gaming genre had reached its apex. Then along comes Nathan Drake’s swan song to prove me wrong. While the third Uncharted instalment (released nearly five years ago) was a major blast, for me, part two was the series reigning champ. Now I can tell you that honour goes to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
After three console adventures and two Vita spin-offs, Uncharted 4 knew exactly what I wanted. For starters, it’s easily one of the the best-looking, most cinematic games ever created, as evinced by its myriad sweeping vistas, painstakingly-detailed structures, and lifelike character animations. Everything about this game pushes the graphics envelope.
If this is in fact Nathan’s final lap, the story told here does a near-perfect job of wrapping up the present, channelling the past, and even looking toward the future. And, of course, Nathan and company are as witty as ever, delivering endlessly entertaining banter to lighten the mood even during the most gripping action moments—and even a few sentimental ones.
Slick graphics, a compelling story, and zingers galore will only get you so far. What really needs to click is the gameplay, and that might be Uncharted 4’s crowning achievement. I’d say every title thus far has made noticeable strides to fine-tune the controls and streamline the action/adventure/drama elements. One of my niggling gripes with previous instalments was its repetitiveness of combat scenarios, namely the gun fights. Solving intricate puzzles, scouring hidden locations, reaching vertigo-inducing altitudes, and escaping mind-bogglingly dangerous scenarios by the skin of my teeth have always been the series highlights. Fortunately, Uncharted 4 zeroes in all these things I love and kept the more generic duck-and-shoot gunplay to a minimum.
The level design is also more open than ever before, which actually allows you to sneak past several potential skirmishes, or stealthily take out enemies. It’s not as open-ended as Metal Gear Solid V, but it perfectly complements this franchise. Also, Nathan now has a grappling hook in his arsenal that facilitates travel and adds new layers of gameplay if you really want to take full advantage of it, say, during a gunfight or as a melee weapon in multiplayer.
The campaign can be finished in a dozen or so hours, but you should definitely not bolt through each chapter, but rather savour the scenery and dig around for hidden booty. Treat the game as you would a far-less hazardous vacation and you’ll be greatly rewarded, because adventures like this don’t come around too often.
After wrapping up the main quest, you’ll notice you now have currency to purchase in-game modifiers that are quite blast. These kind of took me back to my GoldenEye days, and added a welcome dose of replay value. Rock-solid 5v5 and 4v4 multiplayer breathes more life into to the game, with Team Deathmatch, Plunder, Command, and Ranked Team Deathmatch to keep players busy after Nathan’s last adventure wraps up.
There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing Uncharted 4 on many a year-end list come December, but here’s hoping Naughty Dog finds a unique way to revitalize the franchise for years to come. While the upshot of this adventure ties things up quite nicely, they’ve set up all the pieces for a whole new hero.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is out now exclusively on PlayStation 4. Check out the gameplay trailer below: