As sad as it is to see a beloved franchise draw to a close, there’s always something thrilling about watching it go out with a bang. This seemed to have been on Naughty Dog’s mind whilst making Uncharted 4, as they pulled out all the stops to make this the best game of the saga.
The story spans Nathan Drake’s life, linking back to his early years at an orphanage and performing crimes alongside his brother. Loosely tying into the series chronology, it sees Drake’s past coming back to haunt him before setting out on final quest to help settle an old debt.
Those who played previous Uncharted games will know what to expect– Nathan snarks while being shot at, climbs up collapsing buildings and fights the scenery chewing bad guy. While clichéd, it’s a formula which has served the series well; allowing it to have a playful sense of fun in comparison to the dourer big budget franchises of recent generations. The fact it can so easily switch gears between genuine fun and drama speaks volumes of the direction here, as does the near seamless shifts between cut scenes and gameplay. Where the Order 1886 failed miserably, Uncharted 4 succeeds in blending the two near perfectly, switching between the two with few to no breaks or loading times.
The climbing and combat mechanics remain as superlative as ever; slickly animated and precise, with no end of environmental surprises. The opening fist fights alone are worth replaying time and time again just to see what combat animation you might discover next time, and the creativity only builds as the game hits its stride. Really, between its rapid pacing and carefully disguised environmental limitations, just about anything could come out of left field at any moment, keeping you on your toes.
The few definite faults present in the game are unfortunately old staples by this point. The gunplay is unfortunately sub-par, and almost any area where you’re required to blaze through foes lacks the sheer fun present in the rest of the game. A problem to be sure as the final act of the game consists of almost nothing but pitch battles against a veritable tide of foes. The earlier areas do try to make up for this with less mandatory battles and brawls, but even then you can find yourself brought to a screeching halt by some truly infuriating puzzles.
Overall, Uncharted 4 sticks to what it knows best and improving its best qualities. With a better story, smoother animations and a true sense of closure to the franchise, there’s no denying Naughty Dog closed this chapter with all the fanfare it deserved.
UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END / DEVELOPER: NAUGHTY DOG / PUBLISHER: SONY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT / PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW