Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review – Finally Charted!

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, is the supposed final instalment to a series that has spanned nearly a decade. It’s a shining finale to a franchise that has entertained millions and has repeatedly pushed the limits of what’s possible in video games. With all of the hype and expectation surrounding it, Uncharted 4 could’ve easily been a let-down. Luckily for all of us, it isn’t. But that still doesn’t mean it’s perfect. 

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After a short prologue, the game thrusts you into the exciting world of Nathan Drake. Witness him do paperwork, be a good husband and live a fairly mundane life compared to his adventure-ridden past. While the first few chapters may not have much action, they’re actually some of my favourite parts of the game. If you’ve been following the series since the first Uncharted, seeing Nate and Elena be happy together is bound to make you smile. This doesn’t last long though, and soon Drake is forced back into the life of a treasure hunter to save his long-lost brother. 

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The story is by far the best in the series. While the last two entries sort of felt like the same adventure, this feels different. Nate is more mature this time around and his conflict about which life he wants to lead is at the core of the narrative. There’s also a new layer of storytelling brought into the game, with the ability of being able to read notes and artefacts that breathe life into the ancient locations you’ll venture to. Dialogue choices are also now a thing, but the relative lack of them leaves you wondering why Naughty Dog decided to introduce them at all.  

Unfortunately, being the fourth game in a franchise doesn’t lead to that many new exciting developments or surprises. You still have the cliche wealthy villain and his army of goons, as well as a narrative structure that we’ve seen three times before. 

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This familiarity also translates into the gameplay, but the sameness is welcome. There’s still the mix of combat, platforming and puzzle solving, but each element has been enhanced and streamlined. Shooting weapons and taking cover feels better than ever, with tighter controls and more options when it comes to combat. Stealth gameplay now actually feels like a viable option rather than just a precursor to violent shootouts. More verticality has also been added to the levels, with gunfights that can move from a swinging rope, to the ground and then down a muddy slide. Strangely, you can’t throw back enemy grenades like in Uncharted 3. Perhaps the idea was to make players move from cover more and have explosives feel more threatening. 

The beautiful settings you’ll be exploring and battling your way through, are amplified by gorgeous visuals and a high graphical fidelity. Lush jungles have never been this good-looking and the same goes for the urban environments. The graphical upgrade also bodes well for the characters and their facial expressions. Sully’s face has never been this detailed or expressive. 

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These amazing visuals also carry-over to some of the game’s crazier moments. A particularly stunning sequence involves a jeep chase through a crowded city, where players can drive and move to different vehicles. Another great scene has Drake barreling through a crumbling building and having a fist fight as it collapses. While these parts of the game are great, these scenes are few and far between. There also wasn’t much of a standout set-piece moment, like there was with Uncharted 2’s train sequence and Uncharted 3’s plane and ship scenes. 

The game’s third act also suffers from a lack of excitement, with the narrative and gameplay slowing down to a repetitive slog. You’ll spend numerous chapters on the same island going though the same patterns of climbing, shooting and exploring, with not much variation in gameplay or environment to offer a reprieve. Even though the story isn’t truly about finding treasure or a lost city, the final areas are nowhere near as impressive as Shambhala or Ubar from the second and third games. However there is a fair amount of intrigue placed in these locations, with notes that detail an interesting war between pirates. 

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Although the third act of the game is disappointing, it all adds up to a satisfying conclusion that neatly wraps up the narrative of Uncharted. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s an ending that was expected yet surprising at the same time. It’s probably the best end I’ve seen to a game in a while, and it also leaves some room for a possible sequel or continuation. 

If you’re interested, Uncharted multiplayer is back and it’s still a lot of fun. While I won’t be spending a lot of time with it, there’s plenty here to keep all you fortune hunters coming back for more action. 

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, is the culmination of all of Naughty Dog’s hard work up until now. A few narrative stumbles and a lengthy third act mar the experience, but definitely not enough to ruin any aspect of the game. Enhanced gameplay offers more enjoyment out of combat and the game’s visuals are simply outstanding. The story offers a fresh take on Drake’s life with an adventure that has far more depth than in any other Uncharted. However its greatest feat is delivering a conclusion to the franchise that feels almost perfect. 

Uncharted 4 Is An Excellent Video Game

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