The Uncharted series has been undeniably one of the best action adventure gaming franchises in recent history. With its stupendous cinematic storytelling and astonishing gameplay, centered around cover-based shooting and majestic landscapes, Uncharted took our swashbuckling hero Nathan Drake across deserts, into rugged mountains, and underground through ancient tombs. Every title in the series boasts of terrific action sequences, from Uncharted 2’s death-defying train intro to the premature plane evacuation in Uncharted 3.
Finally, video game developer Naughty Dog brings us Nathan Drake’s glorious swansong, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End-a rip-roaring juggernaut of technical finesse and extraordinary storytelling that brings the series to an immensely satisfying end. Once again, the developer has proved that when it comes to providing unbelievably fantastic video game experiences, it is first among equals.
Uncharted 4 starts off right from where Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception ends. Drake is married to Elena Fisher and leading a life of marital bliss, paying his bills by working in salvage and recovering legal loot from the bottom of the ocean. Fisher continues to be the tenacious reporter, looking to dig deeper into whatever piece she is researching on. Both are happily married, but something is amiss. Yes! Nathan is a wanderlust, looking for adventure and excitement and you simply cannot keep him away from it for long. However, he does not want to jump into anything and risk everything at stake after he has worked so hard for it.
Good fortune awaits when his long-lost brother Sam Drake reappears and claims to have clues to the lost treasure (worth nearly $400 million) of the legendary pirate Captain Henry Avery. The two recruit Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan and begin their quest that will take them across the globe. And they are not the only ones after the treasure- the Shoreline Company, headed by Nadine Ross, is also seeking Avery’s fortune.
The final chapter in the Uncharted series brings out a whole new set of abilities that fans will love. The action becomes more exhilarating with Nathan Drake sliding, swinging and climbing like an agile primate. It is really satisfying to zoom down a cliff in slide motion before jumping off from a precarious ledge of a rock, saving yourself from a fatal drop by using a grappling hook that also allows you to swing around corners onto otherwise-inaccessible ledges, or take out a mercenary from above at great distances.
The new vehicular exploration of Madagascar opens exciting possibilities to search for hidden treasures and explore new situations. Uncharted 4 is the most expansive game in the series and this creates numerous opportunities for players to discover the wondrous mysteries offered by roaming around in the open world.
The rope mechanic is yet another fun addition, but undoubtedly, the stealth mode is the most effective dynamic to the new game. Previous games in the series involved firefights or quick hand-to-hand combat, while now you can hide around in the tall grass and move undetected around enemies in a stealthy manner to go for a quick kill. In the stealth mode, you can also hide to regroup and reset the action.
The battles that Nathan fights become quite tense, as the enemy AI is quite smarter this time around, as well as the computer-controlled characters that you fight along with. You have to be on your toes all the time and employ your mental faculties to ensure you eliminate your adversaries.
Perfect amalgamation of narrative and gameplay
Another significant aspect of Uncharted 4 is that the impact of ‘The Last of Us’ is subtly visible. The team behind ‘The Last of Us’- Neil Druckman and Bruce Straley took upon the project after creative director Amy Hennig departed from the studio. Their creative vision is conspicuous throughout the game and delivers the same forceful punch as ‘The Last of Us’, which was acclaimed as a pinnacle of storytelling in video games.
Uncharted 4 can be compared to the blockbuster movies delivered by Marvel such as Avengers, Captain America et al- the perfect juxtaposition of thunderous action and smart storytelling- that becomes a spectacular experience to behold. Though there is considerable dramatic weight in the game, it never becomes too serious. The awe-inspiring cinematic set pieces, the range of human emotions at display, the conversations that happen and the magnificent landscapes that seem like a montage of National Geographic postcards, are all written in such a brilliant and fluid manner that you seem to forget you are playing a game in the first place, and are actually part of an immersive movie experience.
There was always a fear that in trying to be more ‘bigger and better’, Naughty Dog would include more emotional twists that threatened to unravel all the superb characterization that we saw in the previous games in the franchise. Uncharted 4, however, allays all doubts and niggling scepticism by delivering the perfect final goodbye for Nathan Drake.