Growing up, I missed nearly the entire Playstation revolution of gaming. I went from Super Nintendo straight to PC and stayed there until the original Xbox was launched in 2001. A friend of mine convinced me to play a little game named Halo, which some of you might remember. Because of this, I never played the popular series Tomb Raider. Yes, the original Tomb Raider was available on PC, but controllers for PC were terrible back then making that sort of game nearly unplayable. Years later, when I finally played some Tomb Raider games on Xbox 360, I fell in love with the story and gameplay.
Having made the switch to Playstation in 2013, naturally I missed out on the Uncharted series as well. Some things never change! Not knowing a whole lot about the franchise, I simply assumed it was a knockoff Tomb Raider game, only with a male lead, and I never felt compelled to give it a chance. It wasn’t until earlier this year when playing the Uncharted 4 Multiplayer Beta that I played my first Uncharted game. I was instantly addicted to the fast paced, action oriented multiplayer combat, but I was still skeptical that I would like the campaign/story. I can tell you right now, without any doubts whatsoever, that I was flat out mistaken. Uncharted 4 might be my favorite game of the year so far…and I love Dark Souls 3!
Developed by: Naughty Dog
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: May 10th, 2016
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed on PS4)
Launch Price: 59.99 USD
Story and Setting
Uncharted 4 sets the stage by jumping through time starting in the future, to the past and back to the present, setting up a story that revolves around Nathan’s connection with his brother Sam and their adventures together. In Uncharted 4, Nathan and Sam are seeking the treasure of the most infamous pirate of all time, often referred to as the King of Pirates, Henry Avery. Having successfully amassed the largest fortune of any pirate of his era, he vanished from all record in 1696 and to this day no one knows what actually happened to him although most believed he retired with his riches somewhere in Britain or the West Indies.
Players will visit a stunning variety of landscapes and settings as they attempt to unravel the cryptic clues left behind by Captain Avery. From hidden caves and abandoned cathedrals to decaying ruins and ancient ship wrecks, no two landscapes look or feel the same. All are brilliantly crafted with numerous puzzles to solve and enemies by the truck load to fight, giving the game an Indiana Jones type feeling that never gets wears. In Uncharted 4, the pacing keeps you constantly in suspense, constantly looking for what is coming next!
The design of the game takes the Tomb Raider formula and expands the story and acting far beyond anything Ms. Croft ever accomplished. Not only is the voice acting better in nearly every way, but the characters themselves feel “real”, as if they were culled from a Hollywood set. You will find yourself hating the villains, laughing with the protagonists as issue comical one-liners, and most importantly, you will forget you are playing a game. It’s that good.
The game is segmented into Chapters that seamlessly blend together. This is a clever pacing trick by Naughty Dog, as often you don’t even notice you’ve started the next Chapter until it already has it’s hooks in, compelling you onward. I lost more than a few hours of sleep from this. Being on the trail of the largest pirate haul of all time doesn’t hurt one’s motivations either…
Level design is unique and never feels recycled, with graphics that might be the best I have ever seen on the PS4! Combat is fast, fluid and is exciting enough to keep hardcore players engaged in the gameplay of such a story driven game – something I think Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect could learn from. Collectibles will give players ample incentive to replay Chapters to find the ones they missed. After all, we’re all treasure hunters in Uncharted 4, right?
Gameplay is always the most important thing in a game to me. If it isn’t fun to play, why play it? Uncharted 4 might be the one and only exception. While it’s nearly impossible to separate the story from the gameplay, as they are flawlessly interwoven, Uncharted 4 doesn’t actually need good gameplay to be a great game. In some ways I feel like Uncharted 4 is the exact opposite of most modern games. Whereas most games throw in a story to fill in the time between combat and gameplay, Uncharted 4 has combat and puzzles woven in between the masterful narrative that spurs you on to complete the combat and uncover what is next.
The game is filled with numerous puzzles the player must solve in order to advance the game. Levels are very linear and there is a sequence of events that are scripted for the player as the Chapters unfold before your eyes. There is really no wrong way to do a Chapter – other than dying. Paths are laid out before the player and are not overly difficult to find, nor are they meant to be. Players must scale buildings, sneak through enemies and open doors to get to the next checkpoint, all while the dialogue between Sam and Nathan unfolds as they solve the mystery of Avery’s treasure.
Combat is tactical, fast, fun and can be quite challenging at higher difficulties. Players will need to utilize cover, positioning and weapons they pick up throughout each Chapter to help them take down the endless amount of baddies in the game. You will get to use a wide variety of weapons from pistols, rifles, submachine guns, assault rifles, shotgun, machine guns and rocket launchers. Players are also able to utilize explosives such as grenades and dynamite, or sneak for an array of stealth kills that can be performed in varying situations. All in all, each chapter has multiple ways each encounter can be handled and it becomes very obvious the more you play that no two players will do it the same way – hell you most likely wont even do it the same way twice.
Uncharted 4 features competitive team-based multiplayer online, but unfortunately there is no co op at the moment. Players can play against each other in 3 different game modes: Team Deathmatch, Territories and Capture the Flag (respectively). Teams are comprised of 5 players on each side, and each player will get to customize their gear for each match. The customization in the multiplayer is insane, without exaggeration, there are thousands of potential combinations for the player to choose from. You can pick from nearly every weapon you find in single player and you can assign power ups, sidekicks and perks. You unlock more and more gear as you play, even increasing the amount of gear/perks you can equip, giving the player incentive to play a lot.
At the beginning of each match, teams will spawn together on opposite sides of the selected map – of which there are currently about 8, with the promise of more in the future. Treasure is strewn about the map for the player to pick up, giving them cash and allowing them to purchase power ups in the store. More powerful power ups cost more cash, and each time you purchase a power up it costs more the second time, thus allowing teams that trailing a chance to catch up. Players are also rewarded cash for downing, killing and reviving players among other things. The better you perform the more cash you get.
Combat is extremely fast and players die and respawn often, making for some of the most “run and gun” multiplayer you will ever play. Almost no one camps, as there is rarely a need, and you would be better served moving to the nearest treasure to get cash. Teamwork and tactics play a huge role in determining a victor. Pinning enemies down, timing your power ups, flanking the enemy team when they aren’t expecting it are all important strategies and can turn the tide of a battle. Matches are fast (around 10 minutes) and victories, like losses, only linger but a moment before it’s on to the next match. It’s easy to run off about 10-20 games in a few hours without even blinking an eye.
Uncharted 4 does a fantastic job of introducing the player to the controls and mechanics of the game, while setting up the plot for an emotional thrill ride. Players will find themselves absolutely hypnotized the longer they play the game as it possesses an unrivaled ability to seize hold of the player and never let go, as any great movie will. I vehemently lament that I didn’t have time to simply sit and play from start to finish like many players did, as the game dominated my thoughts from the first few hours I spent with it.
Whether you have played Uncharted before or not, do yourself a huge favor and buy this game. I would be shocked if it didn’t win game of the year on PS4 and will be even more shocked if it’s not at least in the running for game of the year on any platform. It’s that good.
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