Review – Uncharted 4 – To boldly go…

So hot off the heels of replaying Uncharted 1 through 3 I could not wait to dive into Uncharted 4.

I was expecting the usual fare, good dialog, charismatic characters, beautiful locations and of course, some great adventuring.

Well let me tell you just how surprised I was to find out this was barely even the surface of Uncharted 4, and instead I got a much deeper experience, a masterful mix of Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear Solid with a pinch of Tomb Raider for good measure.

If you took the good from all those franchises and mixed them up, you would have the delicious game that is Uncharted 4.

What UC4 does that all the previous iteration have not is feel deeply human. Don’t get me wrong, the reason most of us keep playing the Uncharted series is the wonderfully human Nathan (Fillion) Drake. But this go round is much more complex.

We get to see where his relationships have taken him, his wife, his brother, best friend, all very well developed into what is essentially one long interactive movie.

Nathan and Elaina interact in a way that so many couples do, and it feels real, you can easily buy them as a real couple out exploring the jungle together.

The game play as well has seen a major advancement in design. What was a polished 3rd person cover based shooter, is now a full on sneaking mission game if you choose to play it that way.

You can in many cases bypass any combat at all if you choose stealth, from hiding in long grass, to immobilizing enemies with total stealth. There are even trophy reward for just such actions as passing an entire encounter without alerting any guard or killing anyone.

This significantly adds to the Ludonarrative Dissonance of past games, where mild mannered nice guy Drake goes from friendly banter to full on murder mode without a second thought.

This makes for a much more “real” story, in which you feel like you are more of a cat burglar than a death machine.

On top of all this the games visual are unlike anything I have seen in a game before, PC or otherwise. Naughty Dog has truly outdone themselves in the polish department, from the opening boat scene with water dripping off Nate’s face, to the most intricate details in caves and ruins you are exploring.

The pacing of Uncharted 4 is spot on as well, a mix back and forth of puzzle solving and combat / stealth, then the occasional exploration level thrown in for good measure.

And, as a final cherry on top, UC4 is no longer the short 6 hour romp we have seen in past games. I managed to make it through in 17h 30min on hard, with minimal exploration outside of the main path.

And speaking of paths, Uncharted really has gone off the beaten. In previous games the way forward was cut and dry, there was simply one entrance and one exit, and things were very linear in nature.

Well about 50% of the way through UC4 the series goes in a whole new direction, trading tight quarters for full on sand box mode. Exploration of Madagascar is done via vehicle, and there is no set path forward, with optional ruins to explore, and fights to be had (or avoided) From this point forward the game opens up in almost every level, with multiple routes to achieve your goals, and more than one way to proceed.

Never have I played a more well rounded, well thought out and conceptualized game than Uncharted 4. It has gone on to be my all time favorite game I have ever played. A title previously held by Final Fantasy 7 for the past 20 years.

Giving Uncharted a 10/10 does not do it justice, we almost need a new scale as the bar has been raised so high.

Go buy it now, you owe it to yourself as a gamer.

 

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