Monday, 16 May 2016 22:04

Quick Review: Uncharted 4 : A Thief’s End – Spoiler Free


Nathan Drake is back bringing some old friends and fresh new faces.  Gaming fans need to get down on their knees with shouts of “We’re not worthy” in appreciation of what Naughty Dog has been able to craft with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End on PlayStation 4.

The shortest review for Uncharted 4 would be relayed thus:

“Stop Reading this, and go and buy Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.”

But people may want more detail, even those, and I know there will be a lot of them, that have already purchased the game, and perhaps have finished it and need confirmation of their own feelings.

And feelings are a bit part of the Uncharted 4 experience.  Your first feeling will be wow!  Those geniuses over at Naughty Dog have done miracles with the PS4 architecture.  

This is an amazing looking game, one that evokes atmosphere no matter what the setting.  Trudging through the snow covered fens of Scotland, or hacking through the jungles of Madagascar, the attention to little details like the movement of foliage, or the way characters make their way through the environment, it is superb presentation.

Extra special mention must be given to the sound design artists.  Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has some of the best implemented incidental sounds, background and dynamic music as well as the magnificent voice acting realised in a “game” ever.

It is funny however to hear the familiar, distinctive sound of an Australian Kookaburra somewhere deep in the Madagascar jungle.

It makes you wonder why an upgraded PlayStation 4 is really needed, whilst the frame rate can take a small hit occasionally, the fact that a game that looks and sounds this good is on a home console is a tribute to both those that plonk together the guts of a PS4 and those bit-jockey developers that can squeeze every ounce of power out of the household device.

Have you played the first three Uncharted games?  No? Well read no more, ignore the original demand to go and buy this game and instead purchase and play the Nathan Drake collection.

Without playing the earlier games you will have no knowledge of what an “Uncharted” game is, nor the references made back to these earlier games during this title.  And it is important, for Uncharted 4 is both a prequel, establishing more about young Nathan’s years leading up to a life of thieving, and a wrap up of the series.

You will also learn the pace of an Uncharted game, dialogue, climbing, sliding, shooting, frustrating, dying.

The early part of the game – the first seven chapters or so – is all set up for a rollicking tale of pirate treasure hoarding and the task of tracking it down.  However this beginning is slightly slow with lots of long beautifully directed cut scenes.

Who would have thought that in an AAA 3rd person action title, one of the most engrossing scenes would be an extended dinner conversation between Nathan Drake and his wife Ellen?  But the acting, the way the characters are brought to life and the writing mean the vast majority of scenes in this game are unskippable.

How Naughty Dog achieved a game full of colour, vibrancy and depth without a single load screen is unbelievable.  

Uncharted 4 is a more mass-market-appeal game than something like Rise of the Tomb Raider.  I actually prefer the game-play of the latter, but Uncharted 4 pulls together a tale, and marries it with unparalleled cinematic fun.

Each environment has multiple paths, giving a sense of exploration, but uncannily guiding the player (either geographically, or with the insistence of an AI partner) in the correct direction.

Each of the “puzzles” presents a satisfying level of “I solved that” without relying on typical video-game tropes to heavily.  Magnificent!

Gun shootouts in Uncharted games have always been the weak parts, here they are handled differently from the awkward frustrating battles of the previous titles.

Naughty Dog took a hit from Ubisoft’s Far Cry series.  Whenever Nathan approaches a battle situation, stealth is an option.  Like in a Far Cry game, Nathan can hide in the long grass or look down from a high, marking his enemy targets as they appear and patrol the area.

Then, it is generally possible to remove the threats one at a time before the alarm is raised.  Controls for shooting is still a little frustrating, but ultimately coming out of a battle and some of them are big, can be as satisfying as the puzzle solving sections of the game.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, is a mass-market-masterpiece.  A game every PS4 owner should be proud to have in their collection.  

Fans of the series will not be disappointed, new comers will want more (check out some of Lara Croft’s latest adventures if you do) and the rest of us sit in awe of just how clever and talented the teams at Naughty Dog continue to be.

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Mike Bantick

joomla visitor

Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.



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