Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the perfect farewell to one of the most beloved series of the past decade. As such the final chapter in Nathan Drakes story was the most anticipated title, not only in the series but of the last two years. After several delays, a stolen shipment of copies of the game and numerous people online with those stolen copies leaking info about the game, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has finally arrived and it is well worth the wait.
Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End: PlayStation 4
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 10 May 2016
A Grand End to an Amazing Series
Naughty Dog has always been known for taking their gameplay, story and characters to the next level with each entry in the Uncharted series. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has taken everything from the series and turned it up to eleven. A trope of the series is always an action oriented opening that actually takes place later in the game. This one is no exception to that rule as it starts out with a dramatic boat chase to an unnamed island during a deadly storm on the sea, after the climax of the chase, you begin the game as a young drake at an orphanage. The events that take place over the next two chapters set the stage for the overreaching theme of this game, the bond between two brothers – Nathan and Sam. Family means everything in Uncharted 4 and family isn’t just those tied to you by blood as we see with the relationship between Victor Sullivan and Nate.
The story primarily follows Nathan and his brother Samuel as they search for the lost treasure of the infamous pirate, Captain Avery. What starts out as a simple trek to the Scottish Highlands ends up taking you to the other side of the globe for what will be Nathans final confrontation with the dangers of being, (and let’s call it what it is here) a criminal.
Uncharted 4 Does A Lot of Things Right
It goes without saying that this is likely to be one of the best looking games, not only this year but probably this generation. All you need to do is turn the camera and look at anything in this game, from the vistas to the smaller details like those found in Nathans home. Everything in this game looks incredible and there was never a time when I thought to myself, “well that looks like that thing from the other level”. Everything in this game feels unique and alive and that’s probably the best part about A Thief’s End.
The gameplay has been refined to the point that there isn’t really anywhere Naughty Dog can improve. The original Uncharted was a clean game in most aspects but still suffered from awkward movements and serious story pacing issues. Throughout the years, the series has been gradually improving on these small details and with Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog has finally perfected them. The freedom of movement in this game is extraordinary with the series departing from its linear style to a more open world type of world.
Each level is still its own contained area but you can now explore nearly every nook and cranny of the jungles, buildings, and cities you visit. Late in the game, you visit a series of islands, which is one of the most jaw-dropping levels in any game I’ve ever seen. Swimming through the waters feels natural and inviting and in this particular area, you almost wish Nathan could hold his breath forever because the coral and underwater life are beyond words.
Another thing to note about the visuals in this game is that the facial animations and renderings are so lifelike that it almost makes you uncomfortable. I thought games like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls were awe-inspiring, but they look like pixilated games from a few generations ago when compared to Uncharted 4.
The characters are as likable as ever with the exception of one, but we’ll get to that. There are a few new faces introduced to the series and for the most part, they feel real and wholly fleshed out despite only appearing in this game. Others like Sully and Elena have been bumped down to smaller roles until very late in the game but when they are on screen it’s like seeing an old friend, nothing’s changed and you’re always glad to see them when they show up.
Unfortunately, The Game Isn’t Perfect
The addition of Sam was a mistake, he feels completely forced into the series canon and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The story could have been just as dramatic without his inclusion, Sam could have easily been replaced by a number of characters from the past. Charlie Cutter, for instance, he was a character I sincerely liked and I was pretty bummed that he wasn’t around this time. Every time Sam was in a scene he never felt trustworthy and I just didn’t care about the immense amount of back story they had to create in order to shoehorn him into the games canon. Most people believe Uncharted 4’s ending was ruined by the epilogue, I, however, feel the opposite. I believe that the games epilogue solidified Nathans journey, in a way, bringing his tale full circle.
The game has an abundance of bonus features that can be unlocked using points that you earn from exploring the world and finding the treasures hidden within it. What is often a staple of the series has finally become part of the game that feels like it’s worth doing. I’ve already talked about the games new approach to level design but outside of its astounding beauty, treasure hunting is one of the main aspects of the game scale and depth. The developers have created an open world you will want to explore and in doing so, you are rewarded with some of the best bonus features the series has to offer.
Lastly, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the games other mode. Multiplayer. So here it is. Uncharted 4 has multiplayer. It’s not bad, it’s not good. It is simply a thing that exists, you’ll either love it or hate it, much like marmite.
Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End is a game that simply cannot be missed. Sure it has its flaws but for the first time in a long time for a AAA title, these issues simply don’t matter when stacked up against the rest of what is a gorgeous game. The story is spectacular despite how forced it feels with the addition of Sam, Naughty Dog has reached the pinnacle of game mechanics with A Thief’s End. Even with the gripes I have with this game I feel like it is a serious contender for game of the year and I am truly sad to see the story of Nathan Drake come to an end. It’s a happy kind of sorrow though because Nate received the send-off the treasure hunter deserves, leaving players with a sense of satisfaction instead of an open-ended, ambiguous conclusion, where we were left to our own devices.