Nathan Drake is an asshole. He’s always been an asshole – and a mass murderer, despite being an affable chap laden with roguish charm. Uncharted 4 doesn’t change that – but it does humanise Nathan Drake in ways that I hadn’t anticipated.
Right now, you should be reading a number of reviews for what’s arguably Sony’s biggest game release this year. Mine isn’t one of them. Because we live at the tip of Africa, and live in a world where digital codes seemingly don’t exist, I only received the game on Tuesday. Since then, I’ve managed to put in around 11 hours of game time, and according to the game’s in-game tracker, I’m only about 70% of the way through. Probably because I’ve spent half my time in photo mode, capturing some incredible stills.
While I think I could probably knock out a review, it wouldn’t be fair to the game or consumers to write about a narrative-driven game without having finished it. And then there’s the multiplayer, which I’ve only just scratched.
And it really is narrative-driven. This Uncharted is packed with so much more storytelling than previous ones – and that storytelling, so far, is wonderful. Right from the onset, the game is packed with poignant moments that establish Nathan Drake as person; his motivations, his relationship with his brother. And thanks to some of the very best facial animation and motion capture I’ve seen in a game, it pulls it all off.
Yes, once again Naughty Dog has pushed PlayStation hardware further than we’ve seen it pushed before, and the game is filled with trademark Uncharted “wow” moments that have Nathan and his cohorts caught up in wildly improbable, but terribly exciting scenarios. Each area is a visual marvel, and a wonderful display of how hardware can be wielded in the right hands.
I was worried, with the new creative team behind Uncharted 4, that the new darker tone would somehow lose focus – and the light-heartedness of the series would be lost, becoming another grimdark game in a sea of them. While it is indeed darker, it’s also more grounded and the touches carried over from The Last of Us make everything just feel that little more real, and strangely relatable.
As far as gameplay goes, it also just feels better. I didn’t like Uncharted 3 much when it came to the actual playing of it. Much of it, especially in the second half, felt like a chore as adventuring made way for waves upon waves of unbearably predictable enemy encounters. That’s a little different now. While you’ll still be shooting at hordes of bad guys, the gunplay itself is far improved and stealth has become a viable strategy, thanks to conveniently placed foliage.
Even the adventuring is better; thanks to new tools like the grappling rope, Drake isn’t just jumping from ledge to ledge, sidling up walls and grabbing on to improbable, convenient outcrops. He’s now also swinging to them.
If there is a negative right now, I’d have to point at the game’s fumbling and asinine enemy AI. As with most games that feature any modicum of stealth, it’s far too easy to pile up a mountain of bodies while their still-living friends search as you sit around the corner, waiting to dispense death.
I don’t want to say too much (mostly because I’d love for you to actually read my review when it’s out) but I will say that fans of the series will be happy. I’ve yet to complete it, but right now, it’s my favourite in the series – and possibly one of my favourite modern action adventure games to date.
Last Updated: May 5, 2016