Author’s note: Sorry this came a week late. I’ve been real busy in college. And let’s be honest, who’s really reading this?
I’m a sucker for FPS and open worlds. So what got me to play a story-based third person shooter? BECAUSE NAUGHTY DOG MAKES THE BEST OF THOSE.
It’s been many years since I started the Uncharted series. It all begin at GameStop, where Uncharted 2 was in the demo console they had in the store (back when they still put out the full game in their demo consoles, nostalgiaaa). I instantly fell for this game, with it’s adventure, movie-like action sequences. I mean, I was climbing a train that was dangling off the side of a cliff. Naughty Dog seriously knows how to start their games.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the latest and last installation of the Uncharted series. The story is this: Nathan Drake, our protagonist of the series, has retired from his life of treasure hunting, which for some reason has left him fortuneless (which is ironic, since the first game is literally called “Drake’s Fortune”). He now works for a marine salvage company, where he puts some of his treasure hunting skills to a practical use. Nathan has visibly aged from the last game, now 39, and has settled down with Elena Fisher, his love interest in the first two games, and then his estranged wife in the third. The two lived in New Orleans, trying to lead normal lives. Nathan keeps souvenirs of his past adventures, and while he gave up the treasure hunting life, it’s obvious he still misses his old ways.
Everything changes when his brother Sam shows up at his office at the pier one night. 15 years back, Sam was wounded and presumed dead while hunting for Henry Avery’s, famous pirate king, long lost pirate utopia. Sam convinces Nate that they must continue their search for Henry Avery’s lost city of Libertalia. However, an old partner of theirs, Rafe, is also searching for it as well, and the difference is, he has a private army. Enlisting the help of their old pal Sully, they race against Rafe and time to reach Libertalia. And long story short, [SPOILER] the story ends the same way every Uncharted ends, with Nate barely surviving the adventure, another lost city is destroyed, and he still has no fortune.
What makes this Uncharted so much different is the fact that we know this will be Nathan’s last ride. His obvious aging, the fact he retired from adventuring, and the whole plot setup how Elena wanted them to have a normal life signaled that Uncharted was wrapping up. And Naughty Dog couldn’t have delivered a better ending. After the adventure was over, the game shifted to a mini-game of Crash Bandicoot, which was played in the beginning of the game, when Nathan attempted to beat Elena in a glimpse of their new, average, everyday lives. However, when the mini-game was finished, it panned out to not Nathan and Elena, but a young girl with her dog. One who was obviously Nathan’s child.
To see the offspring of a character you’ve grown so much with is truly an amazing feeling. The Drake legacy, just thrown into your face. It was a lot to take in at once. The epilogue continues to young Cassie Drake exploring her house, a nice beach house that also extended to another house next door (seems like Nathan found his fortune after all). Various things in the environment wrapped up things in the series, such as a letter from Sam and Sully telling their adventures together and their plans to visit the Drakes. The final send-off of the series, however, was when Cassie discovers Nathan’s closet full of items from his adventuring days, including artifacts from the last four games, his signature shoulder holster, and countless pictures of his expeditions. Nathan and Elena suddenly return home, and it was quite shocking to see them. About 15 years have passed, and Nathan and Elena have very visibly aged, both well into their 50s. And while the mortality of our cherished characters is made very clear, the peaceful, tropical beach and the large property comforts us that they have finally found a life that they enjoy.
Of course, one could only imagine how the rest of the story goes. God save whoever would have the guys to date Cassie. Her parents have literally killed more people than even military special forces.
Gameplay for Uncharted has been very similar to past games, with most mechanics of the series continuing in the new game. Combat is a very essential part of the game, with it being mostly unavoidable. Climbing about still remains the primary way of travel in game, and it’s surprising how much upper body strength the characters posses. However, some new things have been added into the game. Vehicles play a much large role in Uncharted 4, with one level being so expansive that it requires the protagonists to drive around in a jeep. A high speed car chase results in Nathan jumping from car to car, taking out enemies like he’s a damn action hero (oh wait). Some other new features added to Uncharted would be the grappling hook and the piton. The grappling hook, while present in some parts of the older Uncharted games, never had the importance it has in A Thief’s End. Used in several different chapters, it’ll have varying use, from swinging across ravines to latching onto boxes in unaccessable areas. The piton is also a key aspect in exploring the environment, allowing players to latch onto weathered walls. In essence, it’s just another handhold, created to spice up the game slightly. However, one of the most dynamic additions to the game is the introduction of destructible cover. A lot of previously static and solid cover has become permeable, making firefights much more difficult. No longer can you be able to turn a firefight into a long battle, picking off enemies slowly. Enemies will now destroy the cover you are hiding behind and pick you off easily if you do not keep moving.
True to the franchise, Uncharted 4 based it’s game heavily on exploring your environment to complete a puzzle or take out your enemies. Whether it be a busy Madagascar market or quiet Scottish ruins, each encounter will leave you on edge, trying to take out your enemies quickly, and sometimes, quietly. Open combat has become a LOT harder in the new Uncharted, with the newly improved enemy AIs able to coordinate attacks on you. Stay in one place too long, and you can be sure a grenade will be sent your way. As a result, going in guns blazing is definitely not the best choice sometimes. The weapon selection in Uncharted is expansive, maybe even overdone. Many tiers of weapons will be found through out the game, starting with cheap, low tier weapons such as small caliber handguns and rudimentary automatics, to high-end mil-spec weaponry. Drake is only human (a very skilled and athletic one, but a human no less), and can carry a primary and a secondary weapon. Much more detail has gone into the weapons, as they are no longer just attached to Drake’s back, but rather slung by a visible sling. These small details, as well as the astounding combat system, is truly what proved that not every multiple installment game is complete trash.
And what’s an artifact-searching adventure game without cryptic messages and puzzles? Just like the other games in the franchise, Uncharted 4 has a plethora of puzzles, each challenging but not mind-boggling. What’s even more impressive is how intricate each one is. Each time you run into a puzzle, it’s almost always more complicated than the last. Not to mention that for half of the puzzles, you’re forced to navigate the environment due to the decay the puzzles over time. It creates a unique experience that allows Uncharted to challenge both your combat skills and intellect.
JUDGEMENT OF HALROLD
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has stolen my heart. By far, it’s one of the best, if not THE best story campaign I have ever played. The character development, the story, the gameplay, the beautiful ending, it’s superseded what I expected of this magnificent game. While the story has it’s holes in it (why didn’t Nate go back later on for the treasure? It wasn’t like vaporized) and had it’s share of bugs and glitches (for the love of God let me climb this wall normally), Naughty Dog has yet again astonished us with a masterpiece, something that should truly be written down in gaming history. Solid 9/10.