With the UK release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End almost upon us, gaming fans are pumped about the fourth and final instalment in the Naughty Dog series. Most of us will have to wait until the official release tomorrow to join Nathan Drake on his final journey, but we’ve scoured the reviews to find out what we can expect.
1. Nathan Drake on his final adventure
Nathan “Nate” Drake has retired into marital bliss with his wife Elena Fisher, only for his brother Sam, long believed to be dead, to reappear. The pair, accompanied by Victor “Sully” Sullivan, embark on a mission across the globe to Madagascar, on a bid to retrieve pirate Henry Avery’s treasure. The trio race against rival treasure hunter Rafe Adler, hired by mercenary Nadine Ross.
2. A story that’s not straightforward
In his review for The Guardian, Keith Stuart reveals that Naughty Dog “takes its time” telling Nathan’s story. The first eight chapters follow the back story of Nathan and Sam’s childhood and their first attempt to track down Avery’s booty. Stuart’s review contains several spoilers, so stop reading right now if you want to save the plot as a surprise.
He says: “The duo, aided by Sully, gatecrash an auction in a beautiful Italian mansion, race to a frosty, mountainous Scotland, then fly out to Madagascar, following cryptic clues offered up by relics, hidden maps and secret messages.
“There are gigantic puzzle rooms where whirring cogs and sliding symbols must be turned, tweaked and interpreted so that monstrous clockwork machines jolt into motion, opening doors and exposing hidden chambers.
“And there are heart-jolting set-pieces including an astonishing car chase through the streets of a Madagascan town, the epic destruction of a beautiful bell tower and a race through a cliffside pirate city as it splinters into the raging ocean.”
3. Excellent graphics
Most reviews so far gush about the astounding attention to detail and quality of animation at play in Uncharted 4. Dave Thier at Forbes talks at great length about the astounding graphics at play in Uncharted 4, including shirt fabrics “unbuttoned and swaying in the wind,” scenes lit by convincing flickering gaslight and facial animation that helps the characters “come to life”. So far, so impressive.
4. Similarities to other Uncharted games
Whether or not this is a pro depends on the gamer and how much they love Uncharted’s format, but according to The Guardian, many elements of gaming are remarkably similar to previous instalments of the franchise. “Everything you do in this game is extraordinarily familiar to series fans,” Stuart writes, adding: “There is a lot of climbing, a lot of jumping, a hell of a lot of lifting great big logs out of the way so you can crawl through narrow entrances.”
A criticism voiced by Stuart among others is while spaces are beautiful, they are not explorable.
“There were times, even amid the most astonishing scenery, when you may inwardly groan at the sight of yet another cliff face to creep along,” says Stuart. “Or another adventure playground of tumbling wooden buildings, rope swings and walkways.”
5. A score worth turning on your speakers for
Naughty Dog switched things up soundtrack wise and replaced composer Greg Edmonson with Harry Jackman, the musical mind behind the last two Captain America films.
According to Alex Donaldson at VG24/7, “The score has less bombast to it and shows more restraint, and Nate’s Theme, the most memorable Uncharted track, is woven into the score but always with subtlety.
“It never blasts through in a hefty Indiana Jones style as it frequently used to. That’s indicative of the rest of the game, but it’s all handled very well. The beats you love are there, from the dry humour to the major action set-pieces, but they’re somehow handled in a cooler, calmer manner, which feels a lot more like The Last Of Us.”
6. Stealthy tactics
Uncharted 4 gives the gamer ample opportunity to sneak up on opponents, giving the game an edge on its predecessors. TIME‘s Matt Peckham says: “Stealth-play wasn’t impossible in the earlier games, but it’s so much more satisfying when you manage to sneak up behind one of Uncharted 4‘s hypersensitive adversaries, encouraging you to study enemy behavior and ply potential battlegrounds for the best vantages to choke out or drag opponents off precipices.”