This is it, Nathan Drake’s last adventure. After about 17 hours of playtime, I’ve finished Uncharted 4 at Moderate difficulty, and I really wished I took my time to complete it. As a long time fan of the Uncharted franchise, it was hard for me to play through Uncharted 4, especially at such a frantic pace – I did so to avoid spoilers, as silly as this may sound.
My reasoning is simple: Uncharted 4 is the final title in the series. It is a send-off to one of the most popular video game franchises ever conceived, and basically…I didn’t want it to end. Or at least, I wanted to enjoy it at my own pace, to fully take in what is happening in the game.
But at the end of the day, all good things have to reach their conclusive end, and what a finale Uncharted 4 is. Boy, will I miss this franchise.
No one does storytelling as well as Naughty Dog. The studio’s previous game, The Last of Us, was critically acclaimed for its amazing and emotionally charged story; the same holds true for Uncharted 4. Of course, it is not as emotional, but it is just as amazing; even more so if you have played the previous three instalments of the game.
There is a lot of nostalgia at play in Uncharted 4, and it is for this very reason the game is best played once you have caught up with the previous titles in the series. You are essentially watching these characters grow and mature: the young, energetic Nathan Drake of the first Uncharted title is now an older, almost jaded adventurer.
Uncharted 4 follows Nathan Drake after his many, many adventures. He has settled down with Elena Fisher, and is living a mostly normal life. It’s clear that the characters we know from previous games are now older and more mature; evidently, they are no longer as gung ho to embark on their next great adventure.
But everything changes with the introduction of Nate’s older brother, Samuel Drake. Along with his appearance, we learn a lot more about the Drake brothers’ past and how they got to where they are now. Uncharted 3 took a similar approach when we learned how Nate got to know Sully, but in Uncharted 4, it is much more in-depth.
In essence, Uncharted 4 is one of the best – if not the best – games when it comes to telling a compelling story. Dialogues were delivered with confidence (I really like the interactions the characters have throughout the game), and the facial expressions of the characters are very impressive; it’s almost like watching an animated movie. The few mentions of Malaysia in the game were also a very pleasant surprise.
Uncharted 4 is by far one of the prettiest games I have ever seen on the PlayStation 4. Sure, the game is locked at 30fps, but I can see why: the landscapes that players go through in the game, and the sheer scale of how tiny Nathan is relative to the scenery, take the breath away at times.
Just look at these screenshots of the game:
Mind you, these were all taken in-game. In fact, most of the cutscenes in the game are rendered in real time as well. This enables a seamless transition between cutscene and gameplay, something not many games can pull off.
While Uncharted 4 looks gorgeous most of the time, it is not perfect: there are some bugs here and there that proved to be a little distracting. In one cutscene, Sully’s face did not render right, and I’m left with a rather eerie-looking character having a conversation with Sam. Restarting my console did fix the problem though.
Other than that, there was one instance where I needed to grapple onto something. Well, I did manage to hook onto what I was aiming for, but then I was left with the above screenshot. That said, the very same scene ran properly afterwards – not before I died from the bug, of course.
Last, but definitely not least, is the frame rate of Uncharted 4. Running at 30fps, the game doesn’t look as fluid as other third-person games such as Metal Gear Solid V. However, it doesn’t detract much from the cinematic experience of the game, and in order to make the game look as pretty as it is, it’s clear why the frame rate had to be kept at 30fps. Interestingly, the multiplayer mode runs at 60fps, albeit at a lower resolution than the campaign’s 1080p resolution.
It’s clear that Naughty Dog has learned a lot from developing The Last of Us. The moment I got into the game’s first gun fight, Uncharted 4 feels and plays much better than Uncharted 3. It is more polished, the characters have more weight to them now – which gives them a sense of realism – and it is very satisfying to take down enemies – they are that much smarter in Uncharted 4.
Uncharted 4 is also the first game in the series that truly lets you drive a vehicle. To be frank, I was sceptical of the driving mechanism: how can it be integrated into a game like Uncharted 4? To my surprise, it was done really well. It feels natural to drive the vehicles, and the fact that I can hear Nate changing the gear to reverse is a testament to Naughty Dog’s attention to detail. The car chases in the game were very fun to play as well.
In terms of gameplay, the highlight of Uncharted 4 to me is definitely the much more refined stealth mechanism and the new grappling hook system – the latter is fun to play with, swinging from one place to another. That said, I’m most impressed with the former, which is actually reminiscent of MGS V’s stealth system: I can tag enemies beforehand to see where everyone will be at any given time, and doing things the stealthy way felt more satisfying than going into encounters with all guns blazing.
Of course, Uncharted 4’s stealth gameplay is not as nerve-racking as MGS V’s equivalent, but that’s part of the reason why I enjoyed the former: I don’t necessarily find it to be better than MGS V’s stealth system, but it just felt more relaxed to play through.
Uncharted 4 also has a multiplayer mode, which feels like a supplement to the single player campaign. Don’t get me wrong, this mode is a lot of fun, but after playing through the campaign, it felt a lot like a bonus to me. Finding online matches proved to be a relatively painless experience, and there was minimal to no issues with lag during online matches. I love the fact that the multiplayer mode runs at 60fps as well.
If you’re a PS4 owner, Uncharted 4 is most definitely a must play. It has one of the most gorgeous graphics I have ever seen in a console game, and the level of dedication and care to detail Naughty Dog has put into the game truly show in the fourth – and likely to be the last – instalment of the series.
To be honest, playing through Uncharted 4 was a bittersweet experience. It was fun to see Nate go through his last adventure, but it also means there won’t be any more like it anytime in the future. That is, if Naughty Dog doesn’t plan to pursue a spin-off of any kind with the franchise – the ending of Uncharted 4 does open up the possibility for one. As far as Nathan Drake is concerned, however, the game tied every loose end I can imagine. This really is his final adventure; a thief’s end, one can say.
Naughty Dog’s latest game was an amazing experience, and I would definitely recommend those who are new to the series to play through the first three games first before getting into Uncharted 4; you will appreciate the story even more that way. In a way, I am envious of those who have yet to play any game from the franchise: it’s one hell of an adventure that I wish I can experience again for the first time.