Uncharted 4 is a video game masterpiece. It’s set the benchmark for all upcoming AAA titles and is probably the best looking console game I’ve ever played. I spent very little time with the multiplayer so this review is solely focused on the single player campaign. Spoilers ahead, you have been warned!
The most important parts of an Uncharted game for me have always been the action and the humour, both of which are as present as ever. I’m sure any Uncharted fan will remember some of the amazing scenes that we’ve seen in previous entries, such as climbing up a train wreck whilst it hangs off the edge of a cliff, or falling from a plane flying over the desert. Uncharted 4 has plenty of awesome moments ranging from an auction heist to an armoured car chase through a town, right through to the brilliant sword fight finale. The single player campaign took me approximately 12 hours, and at no point during my two play sessions did I ever feel bored or feel like the game was dragging. The puzzles could have been a little harder, but doing so would probably risk other players hitting walls and putting the game down. Nevertheless, completing the puzzles still felt satisfying and rewarding. There are a good few references to previous entries which brought a smile to my face so it’s nice to think that loyalty is rewarded in games, and there were a couple of interactions which I genuinely laughed out loud at, basically every time Nathan (Nate) Drake did a chicken impression. It’s been a while though since I played the original trilogy, so now all four games are on PS4 I think a massive Uncharted session might be in order!
Whilst Uncharted 4 obviously looks and feels very similar to the previous entries, it’s very noticeable that the characters have matured since the PS3 outings. Nate has settled down with his wife Elena and is living what you would call a ‘normal’ life (diving for a marine scavenging company, playing Crash Bandicoot), but gets roped back into adventure when his presumed-dead brother Sam shows up out of nowhere, and Nate can’t resist the temptation to take him up on his offer of adventure. The loot this time? The long lost treasure of pirate Captain Henry Avery, which is something Nate and Sam’s Mother researched years ago (which we find out thanks to a couple of cool flashback chapters).
The game has also matured, no longer are we facing magical/mythical enemies or powers but instead a former associate by the name of Rafe Adler who is obviously after the treasure all for himself. The interactions between Nate, Sam and Rafe (along with his sidekick Nadine Ross) do border on stereotypical, but it’s hard to think of different outcomes without the story feeling unrealistic, greed is part of human nature after all so it’s very unlikely that they’d all agree to work together, split the treasure and live happily every after. The relationships between characters are brilliantly scripted and the voice acting is superbly done. At one point in the game (after Nate has been lying to Elena about the adventure he’s on) Elena shows up out of nowhere to confront Nate and his lies, and for a moment Nate is considering dropping it and going home with her. We all know it wasn’t going to happen, but the scene is tense and emotional, and I really felt bad for Nate having to face Elena like that.
One new gameplay addition is the grappling hook, which Nate can use to swing along cliffs, across crevasses or around buildings in an attempt to take enemies down. It’s a refreshing idea, and helps prevent the combat parts from feeling too stale or boring by making the areas that bit more open. I always felt like I had a choice of how I wanted to engage the enemies, which usually ended up being one or two stealth kills followed by a whole load of gunfire but hey, the choice was mine. The other major new addition is the jeep, which you can only use on a few chapters but makes the game feel that much bigger by giving you what has been referred to as a wide-linear approach (you still have to get to the objective at the other side of the map for example, but rather than walking forward along a set path you can drive down a different path, or even get out and walk). The game is very linear in terms of where you need to eventually end up, but as the chapters are a bit more open compared to the previous Uncharted entries I actually felt like I was exploring and making my own way through the levels. One thing worth noting, you rack up points during your playthrough which you can spend in the bonuses menu, try turning on no gravity and driving into a few enemies, it’s great fun!
I can see how people might find some of the gameplay a bit repetitive, especially as time after time you’re required to make your way up to a higher ledge to push a crate down so you’re buddy can climb up (I had flashbacks to Broken Sword 4), but these sections don’t take very long at all so I never felt bored and I was dying to get to the next part of the story. Talking of wanting to progress the story, I found the gun fights more balanced this time round, in previous entries they felt as if they were going on forever and were around every corner, but in Uncharted 4 there are some lengthy periods where not even a single bullet is fired, and I loved that because it meant I could enjoy exploring the beautifully put together environments.
Thanks to the awesome physics engine Nate is easier to control this time round when he’s climbing, moving the right analogue stick creates a kind of rag doll effect giving you the ability to move his arm in the direction you want to jump, and it’s quite obvious if the jump isn’t an option. A handful of times I found myself getting slightly stuck trying to walk around the top of staircases, or having to take the long way around my partner because they refused to move out of my way, but it only happened a few times and honestly that’s probably the only negative thing I can say about my entire time with the game.
The finale and epilogue were brilliantly done and tie up the story nicely which makes a refreshing change, it’s not very often we get proper closure on a character’s story. The only problem is, I don’t know if I’m ready for closure on Nate’s adventures, if/when we get a PS4.5 or PS5 it’s going to feel very strange without an Uncharted game being released. Maybe we’ll see a bit more of younger Nate, or perhaps Naughty Dog will follow on with the venture Sam and Sully were discussing during the ending sequences.
I can’t praise Naughty Dog enough, Uncharted 4 is a game absolutely everyone must play. From start to finish it’s an amazing adventure and one I’ll very likely go back to in the near future.