Formats: PlayStation 4
Release Date: 10/05/2016
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is like a long-term relationship, complete with both peaks and valleys. There's the honeymoon phase where things are new and exhilarating. Then comes the routine that brings with it a fair amount of work and effort. In the end, however, players will realize that similar to most relationships, the best reward comes in the form of the complete package. While Uncharted 4: A Thief's End definitely requires some work to get the reward, you'll have no regrets.
We'll begin by saying this review is based only on the single-player experience. We were unable to put ample time into the multiplayer prior to launch, and therefore cannot give it a fair assessment. That being said, players can expect to put anywhere from 15-20 hours into the story mode. More if you like to take your time and explore, and less if you are in it to power through to the conclusion. We ended up at 16 hours, landing somewhere in the middle of both speed and exploration.
A brand new adventure
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End does a masterful job easing players into the action. The first several chapters set the tone in terms of visuals, audio, and storytelling, while also serving as a tutorial to help gamers familiarize themselves with its mechanics.
As you would expect from a Naughty Dog game, the voice acting is superb, with voice actors such as Nolan North (Nathan Drake) and Troy Baker (Sam Drake) leading the way. In fact, the entire cast sets a high bar. Emily Rose (Elena Fisher) and Richard McGonagale (Victor Sullivan) aren't heard as often, but the impact of their performances is nevertheless substantial.
If judged by PS4 standards, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a gorgeous game to look at. PlayStation exclusive titles tend to be the best-looking console games around and this is no exception. It's not as dark as The Last of Us, but you can see similarities between the two games.
Judged by PS4 standards, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a gorgeous game to look at.
There are also gameplay similarities between Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and The Last of Us. You'll spend a lot of time boosting up your companions and tracking down crates that allow you to access objects high out of reach. There will be large portions of gameplay where you're making your way through an environment and get lost in the on-going conversation, as you did with Joel and Ellie.
However, that's where the similarities end. Drake's parkour skills offer a different experience than what Joel brought to the table. Thankfully Naughty Dog nailed this aspect of the game, which is important considering how much time you're going to spend hanging from cliffs or swinging from a grappling hook. We were worried about this element considering how games like Assassin's Creed Syndicate (while good) left a bit to be desired with parkour. This is not the case with Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
Are we there yet?
Unfortunately, it's not all clear skies for Mr. Drake. The gameplay and pacing of the storyline aren't without fault, and both are directly related. Exploration and parkour feel like a non-stop adventure, but endless gun battles featuring average gunplay mechanics get old fast. Not that we don't see the point in gunfights, but there are times when exceptional storytelling gets hijacked by a field full of enemies that serve as nothing more than obstacles you're forced to grind through. Situations like this can turn a fulfilling 30-minute chapter into one that leaves you exhausted when it wraps up closer to 60 minutes later. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End could lose a handful of these gun battles and keep the same number of chapters, thus drastically improving the flow of the game.
If there's relief to be had from all of these tedious gun battles, it's the options given to players enabling them to craft a unique experience. You can turn target snapping on or off, with the former making it easier to score kills and move on. This is in addition to the standard options you've come to expect from games today. You'll even get to enjoy Photo Mode, something The Last of Us Remastered also included.
Thanks for the memories
It's easy to look at Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and nit-pick small flaws, but these issues are minor. For every frustrating gun battle there is an intense car chase or sword fight to save the day. For every silly death due to a parkour snafu, there's an epic grappling hook moment that will get your adrenaline pumping.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is not a perfect game. It may not even be the best game Naughty Dog released in the past three years. Still, we can confidently say it is one of the best games you'll play in 2016.