Monday, May 16, 2016

Uncharted 4 Review: So Long, And Thanks For The "No No No No!"

The Uncharted franchise is full of cliches from action movies and sub par shooter gameplay that's managed to balance out to somehow make a high water mark in video games that lead to the masterpiece, The Last Of Us. So the big question is... has Uncharted 4: A Thief's End learned from The Last Of Us or has it fallen back to old habits?

Story telling has definitely learned from The Last Of Us. The Uncharted PS3 trilogy were great stories too that focused on action, one liners and cliches and that's fine... but Uncharted 4's narrative has grown up. There's more character depth, better pacing, a way better 3 act structure and well... it proves that Naughty Dog are ready to make CG animated films. If you're coming to Uncharted 4 for it's story, you won't be disappointed.

Basic story without gushing or spoiling is that Nathan Drake's long thought dead brother Sam is back and is in trouble and the only way out of it is to find the pirate treasure of Captain Avery. Nathan comes out of retirement to help his brother in a globe trotting adventure filled with all the action beats you know and love. I REALLY want to go into spoiler territory, but I must restrain myself. If you love Indiana Jones and other adventure movies, you've got yourself a pretty good idea.

While the story has improved through leaps and bounds... the action is still crouching behind a chest high wall and taking some advice from Assassin's Creed. Uncharted 4 still relies on chest high wall gunplay, but has opened itself up to the option of stealth as the optimum approach to achieve. Personally I found myself torn between the 2 gameplay options constantly. Because I wanted to enjoy the story, I kept wanting to just go Rambo on the enemies... but I kept trying to be stealthy as well because it seemed like that's what the game wanted me to do(the other characters kept insisting on it for crying out loud!) and in the end... I haphazardly stealthed my way through until I was caught and killed the enemies I saw as in the way to my next checkpoint.

When you're not killing mercenaries, you're climbing and jumping across stuff. Unfortunately after 9 years... it's still clunky. Nathan still controls weird when moving and he still has a random jump arc... but climbing has actually improved with Drake being able to grab grips within arms reach instead of mashing the X('s not the letter, it's a cross!) to move... but it's still the optimal method. To try something new, Nathan now has a grappling hook to swing across gaps and solve environmental puzzles and stuff. This is an item that should have been in the series from day one! The grappling hook does add a new flare to traversing the environment... but also has a purpose in combat! Swinging around on the rope to get an aerial melee kill or just get behind them is the obvious choice, but using it to shoot from this is my favourite method. Yeah, I like to swing around shooting the enemy like a gun toting Tarzan!

As like all good Indiana Jones inspired games, solving puzzles are here and actually require some thought in a few of them. Again, Naughty Dog has gone to the extreme to make these extravagant and I love some of the creativity behind them. These are some of the best in the series and are very thematic to the whole pirate thing. There's also a healthy amount of them too. There's also a couple of vehicle sections too and they even have a couple of chase scenes too! I swear, this game really feels like an interactive spiritual successor to Indiana Jones.

God I hate the PS4! I keep getting brought back to talking about visuals in it's games! Ugh! Uncharted 4 is absolutely GORGEOUS! In terms of realism in games, this game manages to be on the upswing from the Uncanny Valley, but didn't quite hit perfection unfortunately. The vistas, the character textures, everything just looks like it belongs in a museum(I keep being drawn to Indiana Jones don't I?). Couple this with such a magnificently scored music composition and it's a perfect storm that The Order 1886 and Quantum Break(this one really loves swimming in the Uncanny Valley) wish it could have achieved. That said... I kinda think Ratchet and Clank on PS4 does look better aesthetically, but fidelity goes to Uncharted 4.

The game is surprisingly long. I've beaten the previous games in 5, 7 and 9 hours... but this one took over 13 hours! Yeah, 13 hours if you focus on the story and skip on the collectables. The game is very meaty with collectables and even with a 13 hour story, it doesn't feel long or drawn out. The collectables have been expanded to not only treasure hunting, but journal entries, notes and even extra dialog moments that really don't add much to the story, but add to the character depth. If you're a completionist, you'll either love or hate all the extra collectables.

Uncharted 4 is a fantastic game. It feels like a Hollywood blockbuster and even with its dated movement mechanics, it still is an action packed game that's fun and epic. I enjoyed the game almost as much as Ratchet and Clank for PS4. What the game does new is well implemented and it's story will keep you playing until the wee hours of the morning. If you're curious about the multiplayer... I don't really like multiplayer and I believe a game must stand on it's single player and multiplayer is just garnish. Regardless, single player is the main product and it's great. A must buy for all PS4 owners.

Score 9/10

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