Uncharted: A Thief’s End Game Review

Game Review by Jon E Clist

The Premise
Set three years after the events of UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception, Nathan Drake has presumably left the world of fortune hunting behind. However, it doesn’t take long for adventure to come calling when Drake’s brother, Sam, resurfaces seeking his help to save his own life and offering an adventure Drake can’t resist.                                                      

On the hunt for Captain Henry Avery’s long-lost treasure, Sam and Drake set off to find Libertalia, the pirate utopia deep in the forests of Madagascar. UNCHARTED 4: A Thief’s End takes players on a journey around the globe, through jungle isles, urban cities and snow-capped peaks on the search for Avery’s fortune.

The Review
Way back on my birthday (November 14) in 2013, Naughty Dog released a teaser trailer for a new Uncharted game, saying that it will be released for the PlayStation 4. The trailer featured voice over by Todd Stashwick, who was to play Sam, Nathan Drake's older brother, in the game. There was a map that stops at Madagascar and Île Sainte-Marie is marked, which was part of Francis Drake's travel route. A Latin sentence was written next to the drawing of a skull: Hodie mecum eris in paradiso (which translates to "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise"), a quote from the Book of Luke 23:43. Who couldn’t get excited at the thought of a new Uncharted adventure? Well I for one was super pumped and it has been a mega long wait to get to its release. It certainly hel;ped pass the time with Sony’s supped up versions of the previous three adventures released late last year for the playstation 4 platform. Once again show just how lovely this is as a gaming platform.

Anyway, after warming up the Uncharted style with The Nathan Drake Collection, here we hit the controller to take Drake out for another adventure. I was dubious at first with the use of so much backstory upfront, but then I remembered that this has been a bit of a common tool for Naughty Dog in this franchise and it has certainly helped us to learn more about Nathan Drake and how he became who he is.

Now I know I have said this before, I am not a hard core gamer, there really are only a handful of games and franchises that I love, but the ones I love, I really love. (For your records they are Uncharted, Killzone and Ratchet and Clank) So it has to be something rather special to grab my attention and have me locked in to play for a while. I get antsy after a couple of hours, thanks to mostly reviewing films and therefore the storyline has to be just as good as the game play for me to invest in a game. Uncharted has always been a franchise to surpass expectations with that in mind. Like Killzone, whenever I play any of the episodes, I can’t help but sit there thinking how great a movie this would make. For me that is the sign of a great game. Infact it is at that moment when you realise that in itself it is already a great movie and I get to direct parts of it as it unfolds.

Here the dream continues, as there isn’t always just one way to get things done and you don’t find yourself hitting the edges of the gameworld all that often as you explore the space around you.

Now as I write this review, I haven’t finished this game, as it is quite the long game. This works well with the use of Blu-Ray encoding that Playstation is able to do on a 4, and the graphics are pretty damn amazing along the way. It really doesn’t let up and you find yourself really getting sucked in to the story and characters. I’ll admit that the thought of them introducing a Drake brother kind of disinterested me hugely and yet as you find out more about their connection and the things that make them the same and the things that make them different, it is a welcome addition to the Uncharted world and timeline. Plus it certainly helps that Sully and a few others are back to help bring the continuity and comradery too.

Having it be a lengthy game makes me feel happy, these games aren’t cheap out there and on the smaller formats of PSP, Vita etc it can be very frustrating when you fell yourself getting into a game and then you are up against the final boss character and then get stuck wondering where it all went as you are locked on the credits. Here I think you’ll be ready for the relief that will come with the credits and then after a short break ready to go again…

The action and game play continues the similar format to the previous games and results in so many layers of gameplay from discovering the treasure in a very anal-retentive gaming manner through to just enjoying the storyline and mainline action. I will pointout that there are some really cool little subtle features that blew my mind and made me realise what a great attention to detail Naughty Dog studios have. Firstly… you get to play a PlayStation one in the game, I won’t tell you which classic game you get to play, but it certainly takes you back. Plus early on you do a walk around Drakes personal storage loft and get to look at things from the previous adventures. This is a really nice touch to reconnect you with the whole journey and all of the things you have gone through as a player to get to this point in the storyline.

The Verdict
For me… A near perfect game, which is kind of silly to say when I haven’t finished it… Stunning visuals, brilliant storyline and awesome characters. Oh and smashing action!!! so I’ll leave you with that and get back to it… see you at the other side. 

Oh and if you want to know more about the nerd side of the game check out the Extras below from some of the wiki information out there...

The Trailer

The Info
Game Releases: 10th May 2016
Rating: R13 – Contains violence
Duration: As long as you need 
Genre:  Action/Adventure
Studio: Naughty Dog

The Extras
Here are some specifics about the game... the nerd sort of stuff...
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is an action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective. It also includes elements commonly found in platform games. The player assumes control of Nathan Drake, who is physically adept and is able to jump, sprint, climb, swim, scale narrow ledges and wall-faces to get between points, swing with a rope, use a grappling hook and perform other acrobatic actions. Drake can use various firearms such as assault rifles, pistols and grenades to kill enemies. Stealth elements are incorporated into the game, allowing the player to sneak behind enemies and kill them without being noticed. The melee combat system was reworked to avoid the presence of quick time events. Drake also gains the ability of controlling vehicles directly.

While the game is linear, environments feature multiple paths for the player to explore. Maps are also significantly larger than the previous games in the franchise, with the explorable area being 10 times larger than the previous games. The artificial intelligence (AI) of enemies was enhanced. They are now able to respond to the player's actions more responsively, coordinate tactics, and cooperate with each other. The AI of Drake's companions, including Sam and Sully, were improved and will assist Nathan in combat situations, though the player can not directly command them. A dialogue tree is introduced, though it does not affect the story's progression. The transition between cutscene and gameplay sequences has been described as "seamless". Extra visual filters and modes, such as a zero-gravity mode, bullet time gameplay, and a cel-shaded artstyle, can be unlocked by using points players collected in the main game.

Competitive multiplayer is featured in the game. Players play as different characters in the series, and are tasked to defeat their opponents. Treasures can be found in all maps, which can be used to purchase new items and weapons. Multiplayer features "Mysticals", supernatural power-ups that boost players' ability. For example, the "Wrath of El Dorado" kills all opponents standing next to it, while the "Cintamani Stone" can heal both players and their teammates. Sidekicks are AI-controlled companions that can be summoned to assist players. The Hunter can hunt its closest opponent, the Savior can provide medical support and ammo to players, the Sniper can defeat opponents through the use of sniper rifles, and the Brute can defeat enemies using heavy firearms. Plunder mode also returns, thought it was scaled back to support only eight players. According to Naughty Dog, vehicles for the competitive multiplayer modes, and a cooperative multiplayer mode, could be introduced after the game's launch.