In the good ol’ days, games never really had good graphics, per se. Everything was developed in 8-bit, and you didn’t really admire a game for its graphical appearance, but for how enticing it was gameplay-wise. Simple games like Tetris were not appealing. All you need to do was add a highscore board and you would be busy all weekend competing against your friends down the street. Fast forward to the “modern” era of gaming and you’ll realize that the most simple of games played on even a mobile device look gorgeous. Unless you specifically went out looking for 8-bit or a sole developer of such games, the vast majority of games nowadays look visually fantastic, generally speaking.
Cue Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End:
By the time I got to the epilogue and final credits of the game, Naughty Dog has left me with this weird, empty feeling. I was expecting them to give me more enjoyment that extended beyond Drake’s treasure hunting life, yet I knew this was the end. Don’t get me wrong though. Naughty Dog has done a great job at finalizing the series. At the same time, I wanted more.
When viewed close up, Nate, Elena, Sully, Sam, and all the other characters have an extraordinary amount of detail, which probably makes A Thief’s End the game with the most realistic skin effects to date. Not to mention the unbelievable scenery looks just as good and detailed as the character renders. The beautiful graphics is quite hard to miss, but before we get carried away with Naughty Dog’s ability in creating such gorgeous scenery, let’s get into the real meat and potatoes of the game.
STORYLINE, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
If you’ve played the first three Uncharted games in the series, you would expect the finale to be packed with the same type of action: running and gunning, hiding behind objects, all in a well-developed storyline. However, you are unexpectedly hit with a slow start to the game. With the intent of introducing a new character, Sam Drake, it takes a bit of work to integrate someone new into the storyline, especially when he has such close ties with Nate, despite the fact that he was never mentioned even once previously. This would be a problem if there were minimal cutscenes and too much gameplay. A Thief’s End isn’t one of those games. It utilizes just the right amount (in some cases, longer) cutscenes to progress the story, all while keeping the player informed of the background story. Just sit back, relax and enjoy, and have the controller nearby so you’re ready to jump back into the action.
The ambition you find in each character, even the dead pirates in which their story is told through Nate’s endless journal entries, seem relatable. Although Nate has toned down his obsession for treasure hunting quite a bit, it makes him a fascinating character to study when contrasted with the previous stories. Even so, his quest now isn’t nearly as obvious as any of the other characters’ motives. Sure, he’s there to get his brother out of a terrible mess, but it seems as though there’s something else that’s pulling him along.
Although A Thief’s End is full of great moments, packing in intense gun battles, suspenseful chase sequences and mind-boggling puzzle trials, one thing seems to stand out from it all, is that Naughty Dog knows when to slow down the pace and give the player some space to sit back and enjoy the moment. Gaming nowadays isn’t always all about controller action the whole entire time. Cutscenes and a slower gaming pace gives the player time to enjoy every piece of hardwork that’s put into the game. From the glorious scenery shots to the astonishing set-pieces found in Libertalia, Naughty Dog has done just that with Uncharted 4.
Sure, you can pick apart the unrealistic aspects of the game. How and where do the villians get an endless stream of henchmen? How come nobody spots your buddies when they’re running in front of the enemy while you’re hiding? Yet these are the details your mind doesn’t pay attention to when it’s distracted by the storyline, character development, and gameplay that is so much greater.
While on the topic of gameplay and mechanics, I found Naughty Dog has ported over many good features from the previous games in the series and have fine tuned them further. The controls for navigating, shooting, and hiding were very familiar, and is very easy to pick up for new players to this genre of gaming. Stealth/sneak and roping were added as new features, which is a pleasant surprise and a neat addition. Driving around and handling the Jeep was surprisingly good and a nice addition, as well, especially when using the winch on different structures and objects to get around. Often times, it gets you around the open areas quite fast. But because those areas are also large enough that it’ll take some time to explore, it sets the pace back a little, which is nice. Sometimes, it gets tiring running and gunning the whole entire time, and this is a good sidestep around that.
The multiplayer mode is really similar to the story mode with some aspects of a multiplayer shooter incorporated into it, but has a large emphasis on teamwork and survival. Taking too much damage puts you in a “downed” state, and teammates can try and save you with medic packs, preventing the opposing team from scoring off your death. Loadouts give you flexibility and customization to outgun and outrun the opposing team, support your team, or go lone wolf when surrounded. AI goons can also be called to your aid by earning in-game currency and hiring them on a contract basis until they are taken out. It was very easy to pick up, just like how easy it is to play the single player storyline of the game.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an awesome and thrilling conclusion to the series. There was the motivation to finish off Nathan Drake’s fortune hunting and glory days. Mechanics and gameplay were very well thought out and fine-tuned. Character development were so well thought out, it almost felt as though you had a close friendship relationship with Drake and his company. Naughty Dog has definitely ended the series with a fulfilling finale.
Beautiful graphics and cinematics - 10/10
Great storyline - 9/10
Mechanics and flow are very smooth - 9.5/10
Explorable open areas - 9.5/10
Stealth and roping adds a nice touch to gameplay mechanics and flow - 9.5/10
Multiplayer and competitiveness keeps you from abandoning the game entirely - 9/10
Cutscenes provide insight into the story, but may be a bit long for some to enjoy - 9/10
Slow flashback start, but necessary for storyline cohesiveness and quick controls tutorial - 7.5/10
Only gains momentum later in the game - 7/10