This review consists of no spoilers at all and is based on one playthrough:
I played it on Moderate difficulty until the last half where I dropped it to Light.
It took me roughly 14 hours to finish.
I had aim assist off, auto aim off, vehicle camera assist on and I had turned off the "highlight enemy" option.
At last, the long awaited journey is here. Does Uncharted 4 deliver? Does it stack up to what we have come to expect from Naughty Dog? Let us find out!
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is the most well written story in the Uncharted franchise. As we follow Nathan Drake for one last adventure: The characters and especially Nate himself instantly come across as more real and relatable. There is a certain level of maturity behind every character. Naughty Dog does not hold back when it comes to showing just where Nathan and Elena have ended up after the events of prior games. The first three hours of the game are almost flawless. The pacing, the story that is being told and the merging of gameplay around this is just a marvel to experience.
Once the initial hours end, the game opens up more than any game in the franchise ever has. And so begins our hunt for the lost treasure of the pirate king, Henry Every. The game does a superb job in balancing the story between the adventure and the characters that we have grown to care for. While I personally find the character interactions and development more interesting than the overall adventure plot, I would be selling the adventure short if I did not remark on just how exceptionally well it is written and told.
My only real minor nitpick is that I feel that the game has too much platforming. It makes me consider the possibility that the game might have actually been better if it had an hour less of platforming. It can simply get too much at times. However this is quite a minor issue when you take the overall experience into account. The story is excellent and it does a perfect job when it comes to ending the Uncharted franchise.
No words can quite describe this. I would honestly be making a huge disservice even attempting to explain just how gorgeous Uncharted 4 looks. So try to bare with me...
Expect to be awestruck and shocked at the sheer fidelity on the screen but also the remarkable attention to detail, physics, character models, hit reactions, particles and the overall scale of it all. The strongest aspect is without a doubt the animation and lighting system. Uncharted 4 is a benchmark for all future games to follow when it comes to visual fidelity. I have never seen a game look this good and it honestly has plenty of moments where it looks better than real life thanks to the art style. Certain areas are like paintings that come to life.
I played this game with the official playstation gold headset. The first thing I did was tweak the sound by slightly lowering everything other than the music simply because it felt toned down when compared to the effects. I told my friend this earlier but I accidentally pulled the trigger once and Drake fired his gun which in turn led to my heart skipping a beat. The gun sounds are absolutely phenomenal. The punching, the environment, objects in the world, everything in this game from a sound design standpoint is absolutely incredible.
The voice acting is stellar as well. Practically everyone gives their best performance yet. However the person who stood out the most to me was actually Emily Rose as Elena. Her range evoked so many emotional reactions from me. I would also like to mention that Warren Kole as Rafe also really surprised me in that his performance was spot on for the character he was trying to portray. Yet this is not to neglect the rest of the cast, because as I said: they all do a fantastic job as well.
The soundtrack this time around is composed by Henry Jackman and there are quite a few strong tracks that I find myself relistening to. The music in general in the Uncharted franchise has always helped to immerse you into the situations that Drake and his friends find themselves in. The soundtrack for Uncharted 4 is no different. Henry Jackman delivers a great soundtrack that does infact rival the soundtracks from the prior games.
Right off the bat, the most significant difference between Uncharted 4 and its predecessors is the actual gameplay. Yes on paper, you are still shooting and platforming yet the way you perform these actions are so vastly improved that it makes the past games look and feel incredibly dated. The game is so much more open. The word Naughty Dog calls it is "wide linear", yet The Last of Us was also described as such. However in Uncharted 4, it almost feels on the very edge of a sandbox world. The platforming, gunplay, stealth, character movement and AI has been so vastly improved that it probably stands as one of the best third person action games out there as of now.
There are clear inspirations from The Last of Us in this game and I for one could not be more than happy to see that. If The Last of Us is a natural evolution of the Uncharted series, then Uncharted 4 continues the trend by evolving what a future The Last of Us game could be. The encounter design, the enemy AI but also the friendly AI, the option of being able to go in and out of stealth and the melee combat are all aspects that shine so clearly that together with the platforming and shooting makes this game such a joy to play.
Combat scenarios are not quite as common as prior games and you get plenty of time to breathe in most areas which in turn means that they never overstay their welcome. Infact I am left wanting more rather than less which is always a good thing. The puzzles are just the right difficulty and are spread out evenly with the possible exception of one or two being rather challenging.
Lastly the addition of the grappling hook makes platforming much more interesting. I did not end up using it quite as much for combat as I would have liked to. There were a few instances but it was not ultimately something that I was looking for. This could be due to the fact that I tend to adopt a run and gun with melee sprinkles, kind of playstyle. This is also the main reason as to why I dropped the difficulty. I do not enjoy playing Uncharted as a cover shooter. I feel that on harder difficulties, this is almost a must.
The lasting appeal:
This is a Naughty Dog game. It is an experience that you will show to all of your friends. It also comes with Multiplayer which is truly amazing. It is a little barebones when it comes to modes but given the future multiplayer content that is to come (free I might add) along with a short singleplayer story DLC, this is a game you must have. This is the game that makes adopting this generation, worth it.
Uncharted 4 is not a perfect game, no game ever is.
It has its faults, but these faults are insignificant for me when compared to the overall experience that this game offers. I said it before and I will say it again. Uncharted 4, very much alike Uncharted 3 is the reason that I play videogames. Naughty Dog truly are in a league of their own. I for one cannot wait for their upcoming story DLC and their next game.
Is it the best game that I have ever played?
No, that would still be The Last of Us.
But as of right now:
This is the best game of the current generation.
(not a representation of the final score)
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Overall: 10/10 - "Masterpiece"