[review] Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

spoiler free
Maketed as the final installment of the Uncharted video-game franchise, part four sees protagonist Nathan Drake being coaxed out of retirement by the promise of a treause who’s pursuit he abandoned 15 years ago.

Lets start with getting the bad thing out of the way: the game parts themselves are only serviceable. Noticeably, the shooting/sneaking sequences are not up to par and for this player, a well of frustration. It feels like the avatar’s aura is causing the air around him to become more dense than it is for the other combatants. The guns themselves however have a satisfying difference in “handling” and dealing damage, coupled with the low ammo count and the need to pick up whatever weapon you come across makes for an interesting change of pace during the phases of armed conflict. The cover system works well enough and the auto-aim feature helped made the experience a bit more bearable.
Luckily the shooting passages are well placed.

Climbing makes up the biggest part of the game. And although it is beautiful to behold and easy to control, it feels like steering a train along its tracks, stirred up a bit with the inclusion of a pick that Nathan can drive into “softer” patches of rock to fashion a makeshift handhold.
The feeling of safety gets betrayed by some cleverly placed breaking wooden planks or stones coming loose sending the characters tumbling and in the process shaking up the proceedings. The maratime setting in which some of the constructions have been left without maintenance for is a good enough explanation for the wear and tear.
And sometimes the rails are mounted onto environments that makes you forget about them for a moment. And even though a jump from the pendulum of a clock tower to a nearby wooden beam is indicated to be a safe affair by Nathan stretching out his hand in the according direction, it looks like a suicide attempt. The gesture of stretching out an arm in either search for a possible handhold or as mentioned above, indicating that it’s ok to make a jump, is a great way to take the players mind of the idea of just climbing instead of walking a fixed path, but rather being in the body of an experienced individual.
Traversing the environments in a climbing matter is one of the most entertaining aspects of Uncharted.

And are those environments pretty! Every space surrounding the characters is a meticulously made character in itself. No matter where you go, even the most remote corners or sections that the player is rushed through feel like the recreation of a real space that are a result of diligent design. Houses feel lived in, and while some surroundings have to bend their shape to fit into the game, it isn’t overly noticeable as in other games.
There were some instances where a texture or object took a little longer to load properly/be placed, but that happened two or three times and is probably related to the rather constricted placing of my PS4 rather than program code.
And the beautiful rendition and attention to detail is also applied to the characters. Clothing, hair, animation and voice work come together to fashion figures that truly deserve the term “next gen”.

And that leads me to the one thing that brings together the aforementioned aspects: the story. Now, please bear in mind that i have not played any of the Uncharted installments preceding this one. I’m mentioning this because there are people who told me that some aspects of the story did not sit quite well with them.
But it is an extraordinary feat, a narrative that uses all the devices that we internalized over a lifetime to craft something that, while adhering to those, manages to feel fresh. Of course you’ll call out most of the big beats, but that’s ok, because there’s always the one or two things you won’t guess.

Uncharted 4 sure has its weaknesses, things that other titles and perhaps even its predecessors handled in a better way (which i’m not aware of because i have not played them) but are embedded in an engaging narrative which is presented beautifully.

i plan on doing a spoiler heavy think piece about the game in the next couple of days

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