Sic Parvis Magna
Reviewed by Mason Manuel
I had been forced behind flimsy cover in the form of a stump that was being disintegrated by bullets by enemy forces. My primary weapon was clicking on empty and my subpar pistol was close to following suit. Frantically looking around for escape, I saw only one option. With fingers crossed, I sprinted away from my homey stump (which had all but been shredded into a twig) and jumped straight off a ledge. But Nathan Drake is far from suicidal. With a lucky throw, my multipurpose grappling hook snags a tree branch and flings me straight into enemy territory, allowing me to perform a kickass superman punch on an enemy soldier. Without pressing any buttons Drake suavely picks up the enemy’s rifle full of yummy ammo with a cocky “let’s do this” for good measure. Completely unscripted, with next to no helping hands from in game mechanics, this scene illustrates the beautiful combat developer Naughty Dog has created to make their best game ever, and quite possibly the best of the year.
Nathan Drake (Nolan North) is back and he’s better than ever, if a bit unwilling to get back in the game. After the crazy adventures of Uncharteds 1-3, Nate has settled down with his on again off again girlfriend (now wife) Elena Fischer (Emily Rose). Leading a comparably dull life compared to his previous adventures, Nate is nevertheless happy with how things turned out. Of course, nothing gold can stay and Nate’s life flips upside down again when his previously thought dead brother Sam (Troy Baker) pops up out of the blue. Their happy reunion is cut short by Sam informing Nate that the only reason he is alive is because he promised a ruthless drug lord that he could find a fabled pirate treasure. Fail to find the treasure and Sam fails to keep breathing. Needing no more explanation, Nate joins his brother to find the lost treasure of pirate Henry Avery and save his family.
Though Nate is an expert treasure hunter, the years have taken something of a toll. Thanks to a hefty graphics upgrade Nathan looks exceptionally older and more detailed. The same can be said for the world around him. The environments that ND has created are downright jaw dropping. It’s a little sad because a lot of the time you can’t appreciate it because you’re so busy fighting for your life. Speaking of which, the enemy AI also makes itself a star player by always feeling clever but never omniscient. Stealth is given bigger potential by adding a detection system to AI and providing new areas for cover. It’s not terribly deep compared to stealth games but Uncharted is anything but a stealth shooter. And thank god for that because the action sequences border on jaw dropping.
New to Nathan’s arsenal is the aforementioned grappling hook. Good for swinging, pulling, and fun sliding puzzles, every moment with this simple little gadget looks amazing. When the bullets fly, this puppy will save your bacon more than once and make you look awesome doing it. The conventional shooting brings nothing really new to the table but stays solid among the trillion other systems running in the background. Uncharted is at its best when the shooting meshes with climbing around its detailed environments and thankfully there are plenty of these moments. . It never really feels stale until a somewhat repetitive third act. The story changes little and the environment is an overly familiar hodge podge of green jungle. Repetitive Uncharted is still amazing gameplay but after the previous jaw dropping moments, the jungle areas stick out like a sore thumb.
As a cherry on top, the simple but fun multiplayer modes are back. Standard team death match, capture mode, and plunder all make a triumphant return on fun new maps. Though there is nothing exactly special about these modes, they still feel fun and add plenty of more game time for those looking to continue on past the campaign. Microtransactions exist but VERY refreshingly they do not buy better weapons to make an unbalanced system, they simply exist for cosmetic items. So if someone makes fun of killing you with that fuzzy hat you want but could never buy, just remember you’re 5 dollars richer.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the best game I have played in years and I expect it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Though this iteration sadly marks the end for Naughty Dog’s flagship franchise, it leaves me confident that they have plenty more good ideas up there sleeve. A Thief’s End gets a well-deserved perfect score. Sic Parvis Magna (google it).