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Uncharted 4

By on May 30, 2016

Uncharted-4-A-Thiefs-End-Review-600x600Nathan Drake is on one last mission – and this time he means it.

Being a huge fan of the Uncharted series, the build up to this fourth and (apparent) final entry has been palpable. I tried to stay away from as much material as I could – only wishing to experience it myself fresh once I got the game in my hand.

Once it did arrive, I couldn’t help but feel excited – although not as excited as I should have been. I thought Uncharted 3 was a great farewell and that a fourth might become tiresome – as the formula of the game doesn’t drastically change. You climb things, you work out puzzles, you shoot people – then a huge set piece. There’s nothing wrong with that – I just wondered if they would do anything more with it and in all honesty, I can’t say that they have.

In the 13 hours it took me to complete the campaign, there was more than a few places where I felt somewhat bored and a little weary of the gameplay. For me, it started strong then slowed down the closer it got to the end. The fighting is typical Uncharted, although this time it is a case of few and far between – actual pockets of fighting seemed rare and, although you could stealthily kill some people or even sneak past, by the end I just ran in guns blazing because I didn’t want to sneak in bushes anymore. Mainly because when you get caught, you’re then suddenly in the middle of where everyone is and you die quickly.

Uncharted 4 also makes use of being a bit more open in terms of its level design. What’s great about this is that it means at some points you do truly feel like an explorer, you’re unwittingly playing into the designer’s hands by finding your path through that may not be as obvious as previous games (goodbye yellow edges), but the downside? It means that there are some places where you just feel stuck – and that game flow comes to a complete halt.

What does help keep the game moving is the introduction of the grappling hook, which not only looks cool but it really makes you feel like an adventurer. You also get an instrument to dig into pot-hole-looking walls whilst you hover for a moment, ready to strike – quite jarring in terms of trying to believe this is based in reality. It’s also something taken straight from the recent Tomb Raider reboot and is only introduced late in the game with no real need.

There’s also the fact that there’s just so much of the same thing, especially towards the end of the game. It made me want to rush to get it completed instead of savouring its sweetness. Compared to Uncharted 2, which felt like a real action extravaganza moving from one incredible set-piece to another at breakneck speed, this tends to drag.

However, it’s the first time I’ve actually really cared about the plot and the characters involved. It feels much more fleshed out as a narrative and was a very engaging, well-acted story. It revolves around Nate’s relationship with his long-lost brother Sam and their wish to fulfil their dead mother’s work in terms of finding the ultimate pirate treasure. Sam has got mixed in with a bad crowd and at the same time, a former business partner of theirs – a man with a lot of money – is hot on their trail to find the loot too.

As with all Uncharted games, you go around the world and see some amazing vistas. Graphically, it has to be perhaps the best looking game that is currently available. It’s incredibly gorgeous, the detail is phenomenal and all the motion cap movement with the actors is extremely natural. It’s just a great looking, and feeling, game. That’s why it’s a shame that, apart from a couple of incredible set pieces involving car chases, jail break-outs and running from tanks, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. Suffice to say that, by the end, I just got slightly bored.

If it wasn’t for the exciting plot, I would have said that the last few hours hindered the game more than helped it, but I was intrigued as to where this all was going. So I had a few rather uninspiring gunfights, climbed some more walls and solved a couple more puzzles, but I wasn’t enjoying it nearly as much. But then 4 games in, what should I be expecting?

Overall, it’s a luscious looking game that has a great plot with interesting characters but doesn’t do anything that new. As a swan song to Nathan Drake, it’s quite sweet but I can’t help but prefer him in his heyday.

Uncharted 2 – you’re still the winner.

Rating: 7.5/10

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