Uncharted 4: A Thief's End Review - Better Than Your Favorite Action Movie


I never gave it much thought, but Uncharted is one of the most important video game franchises in my life. This realization didn't hit until the closing moments in 'A Thief's End'. A month ago, I simply saw the series as a fantastic trilogy of adventure games with breathtaking setpieces. Thinking about it, they are so much more. They're the quintessential form of escapism. Getting a break from our boring lives in order to lead Nathan Drake towards a treasure. That's where Uncharted 4 switches things up. During my 13 hours playthrough, I wasn't leading Nate. He was guiding me. In my head, I was right next to him, with my jaw dropped all the way to the floor. This is the best game I have played in 2016. Period.

So, what is Uncharted 4 about? Well, after the events of 'Drake's Deception', Nate has abandoned his action-packed lifestyle. He's out of the game. Instead, he has settled down with Elena, and works a desk job. That all changes when his presumed dead brother, Sam, comes back with one final adventure. Putting everything on the line, the crew is back together. Except this time, the reward is so high that chasing it could bring deadly consequences.


Usually I begin these reviews by talking about the visual side of things;don't worry, we'll get to it. However, I'm kicking this one off by giving props to Bruce Straley, Josh Scherr, and Neil Druckmann for directing the best narrative in the franchise's history. For the most part, I know what I'm getting into when it comes to an Uncharted plot. But 'A Thief's End' grabs that mold and throws it out of the window. The story itself is a lot more grounded and well paced, which is something I believe the previous games lacked. It deals with topics such as family, love, greed and growing up. But in my opinion, the tale is not told through the actions that are taking place. Instead, the work is done by the characters, and the interactions between them.


Indeed, this game possesses one of the best, more complex set of characters in Naughty Dog's history. They clearly learned a valuable lesson from The Last of Us, and it payed off (big time). Dialogue is impeccable, which allows you to really get invested in the situation. From the heroes to the villains, everybody has clear intentions. They want to reach their goals for different reasons, by different means. By the time the credits roll, everyone found themselves in a distinct place mentally, and physically. These people feel real and alive. Without spoiling much, as soon as Nate begins his journey with Sam, he acts as if he's being forced to do it. In reality, he genuinely wants to go on an expedition. He believes his life has become dull and monotonous. He needs to feel the rush. There are countless, minor examples like this one, but they're never explicitly revealed. The combination of excellent writing and superb performances combine to deliver some of the most impressive, lifelike spoken exchanges I've ever seen in a video game.


Now, let's discuss graphics. Mother of God, are they beautiful. This is a technical powerhouse. A visual treat! The PlayStation 4 might not be the most powerful piece of gaming equipment in the market, but some of its developers are unbelievably talented. Everything about the visuals is magnificent. From minor things like every object having a specific texture and weight, to bigger elements, including facial expressions, weather effects and lighting systems. To put it bluntly: arguably the most visually pleasing piece of media I've ever been in front of. Luckily, Naughty Dog takes its wonderful engine to take us on a ride. The environments are so varied and carefully crafted. Prisons in Panama, cold graveyards in Scotland, tropical jungles in Madagascar, etc. They all expand the story with the amount of detail present in every single location. On countless occasions, I would stop in the middle of nowhere so I could admire the landscape. That is until I had to shoot bad guys.


When it comes to gameplay, 'A Thief's End' feels like good'ol Uncharted. The majority of the time, you're either jumping from platform to platform, or you're shooting fools in the face. Nevertheless, certain changes have been brought to improve the overall experience. The main one is the grappling hook. It's freaking awesome! Something important to mention is the fact that this time around, the maps are a lot bigger. They have multiple layers, and they just feel dense and vast. The hook allows exploration to be done on a larger scale: jumping from cave to cave, or to climb a mountain. Once it's time to throw hands, using the hook the fly around while shooting your enemies is insanely fun. Still, there's an even bigger combat improvement. Stealth.


In the past, as soon as you were recognized by an enemy, bullets wouldn't stop until they were all dead. In Uncharted 4, the immense maps allows you to hide around in bushes and fauna to silently take your opposition down. If you are spotted, you can hide and eventually restart where you left off. While I would have loved to be able to tag enemies from a distance without having to aim my weapon at them, it still works like a charm. I love that you can approach fights in different ways, as the AI is pretty brutal. I played on hard, and I died. A lot. As frustrating as it may be, it was always my fault. My foes would cleverly take cover and take turns shooting. Very difficult if you fail, even more rewarding when you succeed.

Finally, there are a couple of last points I want to address. The first one being that this game offers the greatest Easter egg I've ever encountered. Seriously, it's a PlayStation fan's wet dream. Also, the story's epilogue is satisfying, poetic, and stunning. I can't wrap this up without telling you that the use of audio in here is astonishing. The soundtrack will be on my playlist for a while. Lastly, once you're done with the campaign, you can spend some solid hours on the multiplayer mode. Not as competitive or strategic as TLOU's online component, but at times it can be equally amusing.

Verdict: Naughty Dog concludes one of video game's finest franchises ever with a contemporary masterpiece. From visuals and gameplay, to characters and story, everything about this experience screams "MAGNUM OPUS". If you enjoy art, you will adore Uncharted 4. An absolute must buy.

The Good
- Lifelike Graphics
- Complex Characters
- Impeccable Dialogue
- Improved Gameplay
- 'That' Easter Egg



Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Format: PS4 (reviewed)
A review copy was provided by Sony

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