Thursday, 5 May 2016

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End: PS4 Review

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End: PS4 Review

Platform: PS4
Developer: Naughty Dog
Released by Sony Computer Entertainment

There’s no denying there’s a massive weight of expectation on Uncharted 4.

The Naughty Dog Nathan Drake franchise has been a high performer throughout, and with the news this is the wrap up game, it’s fair to say that everyone is expecting very very high things.

And the good news is that as an experience, the story mode of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End delivers.

Taking a leaf out of the Rise of The Tomb Raider, Naughty Dog’s two year development’s paid off both in terms of gorgeous visuals and deep dive narrative.

It’s as cinematic as it is action packed, without ever losing sight of what makes the core dynamics of the game so enticing to so many.

Set several years after Drake’s Deception, Nate is retired, a wearied man who has given up on the thrilling Indiana Jones style life and forsaken it for a normal life with wife Elena.

However, his world’s turned upside down when his long-believed-dead brother Sam shows up and thrusts him into another adventure, with Henry Avery at its core…

To say more is to reveal spoilers in what is essentially a globe-trotting game that sees Naughty Dog being as audacious with their hero, as they are with their timelines.

It starts with the first of many rug-pulls as you find yourself on the high seas (initially believing it to be behind the wheel of a jeep) and from there, it’s a rollicking adventure that never loses sight of the personal for Drake and consequently, the player.

Dipping into his past, moving into his present and reuniting many of the franchise’s familiar faces, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is as much as about seeking treasure as it is about exploring the bond between Nate and his older brother Sam. Both Nolan North and Troy Baker (as Nate and Sam respectively) knock it out of the park, from banter to heartache, the voice work on this is top-notch. It imbues the whole thing with a heart that sees you through the occasionally repetitive(but none the less thrilling) gameplay that is prevalent early on.

A lot of the start of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is about parkour, hurtling through Nate’s memories and appreciating the wondrously gorgeous backgrounds that Naughty Dog’s visualised. From the grimy streets of an orphanage style break-out, to the high tops of a prison riot, this is a game that knows what its core audience wants and also how to dazzle the casual gamer who may navigate their way to this episode because of the hype. (It’s also a game that knows how to surprise as you go on the journey with Nate – something that the global delivery and release will do, and something which will forbid spoilers from being released within).

With elements of stealth, remnants of Tomb Raider’s grappling sides of tall precipices and jumping through clifftops and large lashings of both Indiana Jones and Nathan Drake, there’s certainly no need to accuse Uncharted 4 of not going all out in its final outing.

Combat is intuitive and also easy to initiate – and certainly the fact that if you’re stupid enough to fall off a cliff, the body can be seen plummeting to its death rather than stopping mid-fall. Coupled with Sam’s wails as you die, this is a game that has all the edges wrapped up.

Even the inclusion of the new rope and grappling mechanics is smooth - it's a natural extension of Indy's bull-whip and it gives the game a cleverly outdoorsy edge that's hard to shake. Used in conjunction with stealth, this is a device that definitely helps out of corners.

It’s the breadth and emotional focus of Uncharted: A Thief’s End that impresses though.

Within the first few hours, there’s plenty of globe-trotting before you even notice what you’ve been doing – and the game’s immersive touches and environments certainly keep you engaged.

The single player elements of the story are compelling, tautly executed and flow with ease (though no doubt there was plenty of hard work going on behind the scenes to ensure this was the case). It looks gorgeous and is seamless. (And with the relationship between the brothers, it further cements my belief that Nathan Fillion would make a perfect Nathan Drake - and perhaps either William Mapother or William Fichtner to play Sam).

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will undoubtedly grow with the planned release of free DLC over the next year – and while I’m waiting to play test the multiplayer when the game universally releases and the servers are fully populated ( that’s not due to problems within, more with my interest being piqued by how it will all cope when the masses receive it), it’s a title that so far, I can’t help but recommend fully.

Thrilling, enthralling, engaging and exciting, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is one game to leave the PS4 third-person fan breathless and one to entice the casual gamer into its fold.

Naughty Dog has delivered and then some – if this is the end for Nate and the Uncharted franchise, in terms of its story mode and single player, it couldn’t have hoped for a better send off.

(Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: Multiplayer will be reviewed after the release date of May 10th, when the servers are more fully populated)


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