PS4 reviews

‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’ Review

Uncharted 4 Screen

Platform PlayStation 4  Genre Third Person Shooter, Action-Adventure

Publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer Naughty Dog

Driving scenarios are some of the best moments to provide players with bonus exposition, as it can be delivered while players travel from one location to the next. But many times something as simple as a car crash, reaching a certain distance from your next location or something else entirely can break the dialogue being delivered, leaving the conversation awkwardly unfinished.

During one of the driving sequences in Uncharted 4, the cast of characters were partaking in general conversation, adding bonus exposition to characters and past events. This was when an explosion in the distance abruptly stopped the conversation, leaving me disappointed that I will never hear the end of the story – but I was wrong. As if developer Naughty Dog read my mind a character chimed in “Anyway, where was I…Oh yeah…”, and began continuing the conversation where it left off.

Despite the fact that this moment is so minor in the grand adventure that is Uncharted 4, this small scene brilliantly showcases the incredible attention to detail that is delivered throughout Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; which in-turn helped make this one of Nathan Drake’s best adventures ever.

Uncharted 4 Screen

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End provides the most mature adventure out of the series, focusing on Nathan Drake’s post-treasure hunter lifestyle and his transition to a normal life. Drake’s transition has not been easy and his struggle to let go of his past adventures has kept him from being truly happy. Nathan Drake’s new life is quickly turned on its head when his “believed to be dead” brother – Sam Drake – returns, and requests Nathan’s help to finish a past endeavour in order to repay a substantial debt. The two quickly embark on a search for the long lost treasure of Captain Avery, an iconic pirate who roamed the high seas many centuries ago. Uncharted 4 produces a personal story, one that allows each of Uncharted’s most beloved characters to have a genuinely heartfelt impact on the story.

Watching the internal struggle of Nathan Drake and the conflict it creates between him and others is powerful. These scenes are impactful due to the incredible voice acting delivered by the entire cast. Each scene is delivered with a genuine emotion that make these relationships feel real. These brilliant character connections are made so believable due to these incredible performances that I genuinely felt the loving bond between the brothers Drake; making each possible hiccup in their adventure genuinely nerve-racking.

Uncharted 4 A Thiefs End Screen 9

Overall Uncharted 4’s story is most likely the most cohesive out of the entire series, producing an amazing adventure with well delivered twists and memorable moments. One of the main blemishes on Uncharted 4’s narrative is the awkward and unnecessary boss fight concluding the journey. The battle is genuinely frustrating and left a sour taste in my mouth. Fortunately the incredibly well delivered epilogue helps make you forget that boss fight exists – but unfortunately it does.

Following the completion of Uncharted 4’s narrative, players can replay chapters and combat encounters as they choose. Uncharted 4 also offers a plethora of unique visual filters, alongside sound and gameplay modifiers to unlock and add a new flare to the lengthy 15 hour campaign. With more collectables than any other entry in the series (including optional conversations that help flesh out more character stories), there are many reasons to revisit each chapter in order to experience everything Uncharted 4 has to offer.

Structurally each level in Uncharted 4 feels completely different in comparison to previous entries in the series, this is due to the fact each level feels extraordinarily larger than those that have come before. Each environment has a sense of scale that the Uncharted series simply hasn’t delivered before, with large open combat areas, expansive driving spaces and large scale locations. Impressively even the more confined locations also have this sense of open freedom; each area offers a handful of different ways to reach your goal – rather than simply walking in a straight line. With the added size to each area, one would expect the attention to detail that Naughty Dog is known for to suffer – but this is simply not the case. Each expansive area is extremely detailed, with my personal favourite location being Nathan Drake’s home. This huge house is full of minor easter eggs and bonus information for players to encounter if they choose, and that attention to detail is never lost throughout the narrative’s 22 chapters.

Uncharted 4 Screen

These open combat areas allow the AI to have more options to increase the challenge of each combat encounter. Enemy combatants refuse to stay in one location and allow you to pick them off one by one, instead they will use the open area to their advantage as they flank, throw grenades to destroy your cover, and simply barrel straight at Drake in order to cut him down to size. These encounters are genuinely challenging and cover is always in short supply, quick thinking and strategic planning are required to become victorious; especially on harder difficulty levels. Weapons themselves feel more responsive and powerful than they have previously in the series, with each weapon producing a sense of recoil and impact that has been missing from previous series entries. Uncharted 4’s cover system is a small gripe during these encounters as both roll and the ability to take cover are assigned to the same button, which meant occasionally my effort to take cover, would see Nathan Drake roll into oncoming fire. It is a minor gripe on what is significantly the best combat component the Uncharted series has ever produced.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks spectacular. From the impressive facial expressions captured on each character, to the attention to detail that surrounds you at every turn. At times it is easy to forget I was playing a video game, due to the amazing lighting effects and added subtleties that make each scene breathtaking. These smaller details are what truly make Uncharted 4 gorgeous. The added wrinkles and age in Nathan Drake’s facial features, the fog that wisps around your character as they explore abandoned caverns, the mud that is thrown into the air from your spinning car tyres; these are all minor features that combine to create such an immaculate package. All of these small details add to the legitimacy and immersion of the beautiful world that Naughty Dog has developed.

Uncharted 4 A Thiefs End Screen 6

The Uncharted series is known for delivering cinematically impressive set pieces and Uncharted 4 is no different. These action set pieces look spectacular due to the gorgeous visuals and detailed effects. Despite these set pieces looking visually spectacular I personally think the Uncharted series has delivered superior set pieces in the past, but those included in Uncharted 4 are serviceable and never overload the endearing story. Uncharted 4 also introduces new driving segments that allow players to take time out of climbing, shooting and outrunning collapsing buildings to simply explore and appreciate the gorgeous visuals on display. Fortunately driving these vehicles is enjoyable, with each vehicle handling well and providing realistic mannerisms when traversing difficult terrain, such as steep hills and muddy embankments.

When you want to step away from Uncharted 4’s solo campaign, there is a uniquely fun brand of multiplayer content to experience. Uncharted 4’s multiplayer includes three multiplayer modes; ranging from Team Deathmatch and variations of both Capture the Flag (Plunder) and Headquarters (Command). While it could be easy to dismiss Uncharted 4 multiplayer as a simple multiplayer addition, the online component does a great job at making the moment to moment gameplay uniquely Uncharted. What will keep players coming back to Uncharted 4 multiplayer is the huge amount of cosmetic items available. Though these alternate skins, taunts and characters can be purchased with real world money, all items can be unlocked by earning Relics from general multiplayer gameplay.

Uncharted 4 Screen 4

Players can purchase AI companions to fight alongside them during matches, as well as purchase Mystic items that represent some of the iconic objects from the series. Due to these additions Uncharted 4 multiplayer can become quite chaotic; this is why teams that work together will find success.

Multiplayer gameplay is fun and runs well despite the chaotic additions, the main issue is that finding a match in any mode other than Team Deathmatch can take a long time; which essentially makes two thirds of the multiplayer modes on offer obsolete. Waiting for matches in Plunder or Command can provide wait times of 5 – 10 minutes. Even then, there were times when I would be all set to join a match only to be greeted by a black screen and forced to restart Uncharted 4 entirely.

the-verdict

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an incredible entry in the Uncharted series, producing an outstanding story with mature themes and well-constructed characters. The adventure is made even better due to the incredible voice acting from the entire cast, creating some of the most memorable character relationships in the industry. Uncharted 4 also sets the bar in terms of next generation visuals, creating a gorgeously crafted experience with an insane attention to detail. Despite an awkward and unnecessary boss encounter during the campaign’s conclusion, Uncharted 4’s campaign is almost picture perfect.

From all accounts Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will be the final chapter of Nathan Drake’s story. As a long-time Uncharted fan myself, I could not think of a more fitting way to end such an incredible series.

The Good

  • Incredible attention to detail visuals.
  • A well-constructed mature narrative.
  • Larger area for exploration and combat encounters.
  • Responsive and challenging combat.

The Bad

  • Awkward and unnecessary boss fight.
  • Long wait times for multiplayer matches.

The Score: 9.6


Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction and you can like them on Facebook, follow his daily life on Twitter @JamieAA, and his videos on YouTube.

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