Uncharted 2 is hailed, rightfully so, as one of the greatest games of the last generation and indeed of all time as an achievement in storytelling, game innovation and pure spectacle. Naturally it’s follow-up Uncharted 3 would only pale in comparison but in my mind gets less love than it’s due. Not to mention the landmark release of The Last of Us which remains my personal favorite game of all time and a crowning glory for the team at Naughty Dog.
Then the announcements came, then a date, then a trailer, then gameplay, then a delay, then more gameplay, then another delay. Would we ever see Uncharted 4 and if we did would it live up to our seemingly insurmountable expectations?
In short? God yes.
Uncharted 4 is the finale (so we’ve been told) in the 3rd person shooter action/adventure series created by developer team Naughty Dog, UC4 is the conclusion of the Nathan Drake (Nolan North) story. a treasure hunter through and through Drakes adventures have taken him all over the world and through the skin of his teeth he’s still alive and now living a quiet life with his wife Elena (Emily Rose) when his presumed dead brother Sam (Troy Baker, because he needs the work…) turns up claiming he is in trouble. This revelation sparks Nathan back into action and a new globe trotting quest for pirate gold begins.
This is an Uncharted game made by Naughty Dog, of course the story is over the top, ridiculous and simplistic but executed so well with likeable and relatable characters and dialogue it’s hard to not just let your mind run with the insane things you’re doing.
I won’t spoil this but the epilogue teases that this is no way near the end of the franchise.
There’s nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary about the story but there doesn’t need to be. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. However on the subject of groundbreaking…
This is almost definitely the best looking console game ever made. In the statistics of what you did in the game; time played, bullets shot, distance spent driving etc. there is a stat for time spent standing still. Of the 14.5 hours it took me to finish the game (not a brag just a fact) I spent 1 full hour standing still. This might be Drake being still while doing a puzzle but I’m certain a lot of that time was spent me just looking around at the fully functioning and beautiful world that Naughty Dog created. I took 55 different screenshots and every image you see in this article was from that play through. UNEDITED.
The graphics are so good that at least 15 times a cut scene ended and I just stood still thinking I was watching something pre-rendered it truly is a beautiful game and you can bet I’m getting the art book that is 100% coming out.
Now I don’t want to be that person that tells you how to play a game but here it comes. If you CAN get Sony headsets (PS4 2.0 Headphones are my personal preference) and download the headphone companion app you can optimize the headphones to be especially adjusted for Uncharted 4’s environment and dear lord is it incredible. I’m pretty certain I could play certain sections of the game with my eyes closed because of how detailed the sound design is on this game. Absolutely every aspect is so expertly implemented it’s almost annoying when the score kicks in. Apart from one slow piano track I don’t really remember anything from Henry Jackmans score but I liked the slight reworking of the main theme to be different from the previous three.
Unsurprisingly, in a game that is pushing the PS4 pretty hard (at times mine sounded like it might take off!) the game runs super smoothly. Only once in my entire run did the game fail and even then it fixed itself within minutes.
The age old criticism that Uncharted games have fun but flawed gunplay is easy to trot out at parties before people say “dude, I only asked you how you were?” and the party is over for you. However in UC4, like everything else in the game, the gunplay while unrealistic is still really fun and works incredibly well with weaponry that feels individual and different.
The climbing mechanics are the best they’ve ever been and the addition of the grapple hook/rope swing is ingenious as it both adds a new layer of complexity to an area of gaming (climbing) that is as common as the words ‘insanity’, ‘Hideo Kojima’ and ‘huh?’ being in the same sentence. It also allows you the player to travel the landscapes faster and see them from new perspectives while being really fun.
There is however one aspect of the gameplay that had me slightly irked, the puzzle/platform sections. There were too many times, for me, that I couldn’t get into a room and I had to use a block with wheels on it to climb into the room, it wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t THE EXACT SAME BLOCK EVERY TIME.
The Last of Us did this too with the infamous wooden pallet around water, speaking of which it has to be said that the ramifications of such a colossal effort from Naughty Dog can be seen throughout UC4. There are flashes of the thought process behind certain design and narrative choices as well as how characters interact with each other.