Reviewed: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Released: May 2016

Played: November 2017

Format: PS4

Completion Time: 13 hours

Rating: 8/10

I Liked: Strong characters, epic landscapes, thrilling action sequences

I Disliked: Last act of game is much too long, exploding pirate mummies!

10 years after I first started the original Uncharted on PS3, I find myself playing the 4th and final instalment of the Uncharted series. I’m a massive fan of all the previous games, especially the 2nd instalment which to me was one of the PS3’s finest moments. How will this closing chapter in the Nathan Drake story pan out?

Nathan (aka Nate) Drake, now married to long-term adventuring partner Elena discovers that his brother Sam, previously thought dead, is actually very much alive. Sam is in debt to a Panamanian gangster who expects him to find the lost treasure of the ‘king of pirates’ – a long dead pirate by the name of Henry Avery. Nate, Sam, cigar smoking pilot Sully and eventually Elena work together to find the treasure.

The story predictably takes you around the globe, featuring locations as diverse as a snowy Scotland, a Panamanian jail, urban and rural Madagascar and an exceptionally large tropical island to traverse in the final part of the game.

Uncharted 4 utilises much of the same controls and action style as with previous games in the series, although a little extra finesse added to the climbing controls really adds to the realism. Combat is much like before and can be a little clumsy if you accidentally take cover the wrong side of a rock during a gunfight. Your partners do exhibit good AI in that they are less prone to kamikaze attacks than in other games, something the developers have not managed to achieve in their other games prior to this one.

It is often obvious where the correct route is due to the rather strange placement of scratch marks to show that someone has gone that way before. Is it just me or is this a little odd in areas not explored in over 300 years, and even then by only a handful of pirates?

I was very impressed with the stunning visuals, from start to finish. Indoor sections are immensely detailed, with sharp textures showing off what the PS4 can do. Outdoors areas featured large, detailed vistas that often made me stop and admire the view.

sceneryThe visuals in Uncharted 4 are incredibly detailed (Image Credit: theverge.com)

One of the very few criticisms from previous games were the A to B levels that did not really allow for a sense of free roaming exploration. This instalment allows for more open exploring in some levels, doing a great job of masking the overall linear nature of our hero’s progress.

The voice acting is superb throughout, complimenting a well written story with strong characters providing a tremendous amount of depth. Nate’s conflicted emotions that often make him choose between his brother and his wife are brilliantly executed and add greatly to the overall experience.

There is also a clear sense for the first time that the majority of the main characters have grown up and moved on from their earlier adventures. The shift in Nate’s priorities from adventure to a settled, married life is portrayed brilliantly.

brothersThere is a tense relationship between the Drake brothers in parts of this game (Image Credit: gamesradar.com)

Occasional frustrating sections do detract but not for long. There is a particular section towards the end of the game featuring exploding pirate mummies… These exploded seemingly at random no matter how slowly or quickly I went through the area.

Summing up, this is not the finest episode in the series, but for me the second best after Uncharted 2.  It does showcase some stunning graphics and a plot that delivers a fitting end to the Nathan Drake saga.

As I think has been mentioned by pretty much everyone on the Internet, the last act in the game is much too long and spoils the pacing of the game. Developers Naughty Dog were obviously trying to build up the tension, enrich the storyline and give the series an epic conclusion, but end up diluting an otherwise brilliant story.

This game has left me hungry to play the next Uncharted game, a spin-off featuring characters from the series in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

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