Finally getting to play Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End after delay after delay gives you the triumphant feeling of awe that swashbuckling hero Nathan Drake gets when he gets his hands on a long-sought treasure. This PlayStation 4 exclusive is the sort of game that makes Microsoft fanboys weep. While not only technically superior to just about every game of its ilk, the blowout adventure taps into what sets the Uncharted games apart — the masterful storytelling and brilliant, Hollywood-style pacing that developer Naughty Dog has made its name for with previous games in the series, as well as The Last of Us.
Game: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed)
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: May 10
Not only a satisfying capstone for the series, Uncharted 4 is as close to a console killer app as you are ever likely to find. This is the game PS4 fans have been dreaming of since they first got a glimpse of it in 2013. This is not only the biggest, boldest adventure for unflappable, wise-cracking hero Nathan Drake, it’s also the most calm and personal tale. The narrative hops back and forth between Drake’s current plight — his reuiniting with long-lost brother, Sam, who coaxes him out of treasure-hunting retirement for one final score — but to Nathan’s troubled youth, growing up as a scamp on unforgiving streets.
The timeline hopping joins with a globe-criss-crossing tale to craft a tale that’s as memorable as a blockbuster film. Previous shortcomings of the otherwise excellent series — occasionally clipped animations and dumbed-down shooting mechanics — are nowhere to be seen. This is the most polished Drake adventure yet, with a silk-smooth control system and breathlessly creative and rapid-flowing level design that make it all but impossible to put down the controller for a bathroom break, much less a nap. Hilarious, poignant dialogue melds with pitch-perfect voice and motion-capture performances that create a story that’s as exciting as the shooting. All the moving parts function so well together that as you play, you reach the passive/interactive singularity that most developers dream of but few achieve. This is both a playable movie and a game you can sit back on the couch as a friend plays and enjoy just as well.
As has always been the case with Uncharted games, the shoehorned-in multiplayer is a letdown after enjoying the thrilling campaign. That said, this is the strongest Uncharted multiplayer component yet, with just about every memorable character throughout the series returning as a playable avatar, and several weapons both memorable and obscure from the past popping back into the picture as power-ups and bonus perks. Most people who get this game won’t do it for the multiplayer, but those who put in the time will be rewarded. Naughty Dog has promised a steady stream of free updates and add-ons. There will also be some paid DLC, but that looks to be well worth forking over extra money for because it will be story-expanding single-player content.
Uncharted 4 is a game worth ditching class and calling in sick for work for. Any interruption that life trots out — short of great sex — to yank you away from the mesmerizing adventure is little more than a nagging annoyance to be brushed aside. If you’ve been disappointed with Sony’s first-party support for the console, this is the game that will erase all those concerns. You’re so immersed in the chases, shootouts and even the driving and boating sequences that it feels like you’re truly along for the ride. If this is truly Drake’s final adventure, this is one hell of a way to go out.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Guide
For detailed maps of all the treasures and other secrets in the game, check out Prima’s official guide, which also comes with an electronic copy. There are also multiplayer tips and a full campaign walkthrough. You can order it online here.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Reviews Around The Web:
“My time featured a number of surprising moments and mechanics, but it still felt like an Uncharted experience.” –Game Informer
“It seems that Naughty Dog has indeed taught Nate some new tricks for his swan song.” –Polygon
“Yep, it still looks incredible.” –Kotaku
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.