Where Heroes Lay to Rest | Uncharted 4 Review
Uncharted 4 brings a close to the Uncharted series, a game that made Nathan Drake one of gaming’s biggest icons since 2007. This game was an explosive way to finish the series and it couldn’t have ended any more satisfyingly than it did. We play as Nathan Drake once again for what is probably the biggest adventure of his life.
Characters we know and love like Sully and Elena make their final appearances, with new characters like Nathan’s older Brother Sam. They journey with us through thick and thin to uncover unsolved mysteries of the world.
The plot of this entire story revolves around the very first mystery that Nathan uncovered as a child with his brother. The story is well written, characters are diverse and the plot was exciting to follow.
We start a few years after we left off, watching Nathan leading an uncomfortably normal lifestyle. He’s married, has a day job, pushes paper; all very mundane. A surprise visit and the greatest call to action of his life later, and this game kicks off on a hell of an adventure. Puzzles, traps, and artifacts abound as in the previous games, and we’re thrown into set-piece after beautiful set-piece to uncover lost treasures.
This game ends with an epilogue that I have never experienced in my 2 decades of gaming. It is THE most heartwarming gameplay segment that hit me right in the feels man. Let’s just say a few man tears may have been shed even.
The graphics and sound for this game are superb. It holds up really well, despite its age. There is a hyper-realism to the game that makes the many set pieces feel ripped out of a national geographic documentary.
Things like specular reflection, complex lighting, and mind-blowing collision mechanics blew me away in unexpected places. It was the little things that sold me on the graphics.
The Foley and sound design was also stunning, which was to be expected from a triple-A title. Every shoe Foley on different floor textures, every minute ambient sound, the game had just as interesting a soundscape as it did landscape.
It’s this attention to detail that really makes this such an immersive experience. So while my game design knowledge is shallow at best, I appreciate how all these intricate coding systems come together to form a perfectly polished game.
The one flaw I found is the plot. The one way Naughty Dogs had been introducing story was through a series of flashbacks to a young Nathan Drake. Used sparingly, it’s a good gimmick, but I feel constantly attacked by these flashbacks that retrospectively feed me the plot. I really had to close an eye to hold my suspension of disbelief.
The introduction of Nathan’s brother was sketchy at best, and they could barely explain how Nathan has NEVER brought his brother up in any of the past games, which halted me from being fully invested in this supposedly important character Nathan would take a bullet for. Forced, at best.
The thing that stands out most for me about this game were the small moments. Uncharted really took their time to establish character and scenes. Scattered throughout the game were these little scenes that really drew out who we were playing. These mundane, yet intimate scenes catch me completely off guard and it felt like I was just watching a really good CG movie.
While captivating, it is still a game after all. If Naughty Dogs isn’t gonna be able to integrate these intimate story moments into an interactive medium, perhaps they’re better off making movies. There would at least be some quality, rather than all the crap game movie ripoff failures we currently have.
This was the best Uncharted game for many reasons. It has rounded characters, immersive story-telling, intriguing plots, and exciting action sequences. All of this wrapped up in polished graphics and an exploration/combat system refined over a good decade. But what makes this game work better is that it rides the coat tails of its previous successes. It capitalizes on our past experiences with those games.
My investment in these characters wouldn’t be as strong if I hadn’t invested the hours previously. The revelations would not have been as impactful if I didn’t already experience the lives of these characters. It is a true testament to Naughty Dog’s storytelling abilities.
So if you haven’t played an Uncharted game before, this should really be enjoyed after playing all the previous ones. The trilogy is cheap and is remastered for new consoles. The older systems show some age to them, but it’s worthwhile playing them through chronologically. Each game on easy shouldn’t take over 6 hours, and I would dare say that’s the difficulty you should be playing to fully enjoy Uncharted.
It is an amazing game. This series will live as one of the most memorable gaming experiences I have, and will ever, have.