Uncharted 4 – Archived review

The saga is complete, at least for now. It’s possible that there will be more games released with the Uncharted title, but Nathan Drake has climbed his last cliff face.

In reviewing the game, the most striking thing about it is the graphics design. Naughty Dog knew how to take full advantage of the PS3, and they go all out for the PS4. Environments are lush, complex, deep, and generally great to look at. The shimmering water looks realistic. The character animation is the best it’s been (though it’s still a bit on the creepy side of the uncanny valley).

Gameplay is more-or-less the same as Uncharted 1-3: Platforming, puzzles, combats. There were no “impossible jumps” such as that marred Uncharted 1 (and 3 to a lesser extent), though there’s one challenge near the end of the game that was a bit frustrating. There were a couple of “obstacle courses” that basically required you to learn a trajectory, but they weren’t too harsh. There are the usual puzzles, but I solved all of them without resorting to any on-line hints (the game has an internal hint system that you can turn off).

Some new mechanics: Game previews showed Nathan Drake driving a 4×4, and I was worried that Naughty Dog might have “Batmobiled” the game the way Rocksteady did to Arkham Knight. No worries. The car comes equipped with a winch, which adds a new dimension to some obstacle puzzles. Nathan gets a new tool: a rope lasso. I found it easy to get used to, and again it added a bit of a new dimension to some platform puzzles.

Combat is pretty much the same as in Uncharted 1-3: waves of enemies attack, you fire from behind what cover you can find. Two differences: The first, courtesy of the PS4 processing power, is that crates and other flimsy structures will gradually fall apart as enemies fire at them; you can’t duck behind them forever. The second is that, for many combats, it’s possible to take down all the enemies through stealth. I played the game on Light difficulty, but there’s a level below that: Explorer, which I assume removes almost all combat; I didn’t try it.

Plot: I won’t spoil anything, but Naughty Dog knows when they’ve got a successful formula and they stick to it. There are few references to Uncharted 1-3, and you’ll appreciate Uncharted 4 more if you’ve played all three before. But you don’t need to have played the others to get through this game.

Overall, I think this is clearly the best of the Uncharted series; in descending order of quality, I’d rank them 4, 2, 3, 1. If they can maintain this level of quality, I hope that Naughty Dog will return to the Uncharted franchise someday.

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