Lucien’s Review: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4When I first head this game announced, I was more than a little skeptical.  After all, hadn’t they already left the series in a pretty good place?  It seemed like this would be another game so much like the others.  I should have know that my lack of faith was disturbing.  After all, this is Naughty Dog we’re talking about.  They don’t half-ass on anything.  Ever.  They give all their projects their all.  This one was no exception.  With the writing team who worked on The Last of Us coming in on this, they finally give us a definitive ending to the series.  Let me say, it delivers.

The plot goes that Nate has been out of the game for some years.  Around five, by my calculation.  He has been living a pedestrian life with his wife Elena, and all seems well in the world.  However, he can’t help but be drawn back to the thief lifestyle that he has been a part of for so long.  This is exacerbated when his brother Sam comes back into his life.  He’s in a bit of a bind, and needs Nate’s help to finish a job and help him get some bad people off his back.

The story doesn’t sound all that interested, but the devil is always in the detail with these games.  Speaking of detail, the visuals in this game are a cut above the rest!  This game is BEAUTIFUL to look at!  Not even kidding, my jaw was hanging open at certain points.  The best-looking game on the PS4, to date.  I am in love with how detailed everything is.  I expected nothing less from Naughty Dog, but it is still totally amazing to look at.  Clearly, all those delays to this game were time well spent!  This game is proof that delaying a game to get everything right is a good thing.  This studio has a pedigree of excellent, finished products that they don’t send out half-done.  I love it, and can’t wait to see how they are going to marvel us next.

Next up, there’s the performances.  Man, this feels like meeting old friends again after a while apart.  The voice acting and character models are so good that I honestly feel like I could chill with any of these people.  Nolan North is back as Nate, with Troy Baker doing the role of his brother.  It’s amazing performances from both of them, and I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying it was to have these two voice actors at the top of their class playing off each other.  Sully is a smarmy, lovable asshole.  As always.  Elena has her very human side that she brings to the role.  The villains are both evil and dastardly.  Which brings something else up that I want to talk about.

One of the things about the Uncharted games is that they have a formula that they’ve always followed pretty close. Nate and the gang make some big discovery about the treasure they are after.  Then, the villains come in and find a way to steal it.  They have that here, but just as my eyes are rolling, the game decides to play with that.  You have Nate’s brother outsmarting them with quick thinking and clever manipulation.  Each time this game feels like it is following the formula, something happens to make the experience just a little different.  That’s kinda awesome.

Just like the last entry in the franchise, this game is a very personal story.  You have Nate having to come to terms with his changing life circumstances.  You have more about his history and how his past has shaped who he has become.  There is a REALLY nice approach to his relationship with his wife.  There are several genuinely-touching conversations between the two, and it makes their relationship feel that much more true to life.  Like how actual marital problems work.  Sure, the circumstances are bombastic as fuck, but they find ways to connect it to real life problems that can be very touching.  Same with Nate’s relationship with his brother.  The last game was about Nate and his ego.  This game is about Nate and his ability to make peace with moving on.  It feels like a real progression of the story.

However, this is one glaring flaw that I have to point out.  I want to make this a fair review, and this flaw is too big for me to overlook – the soundtrack.  This game’s music is BORING!  I barely even noticed it half the time.  In the last game, the soundtrack was perfectly done, mixing Arabian themes with dark acoustic tones.  Then, when it amped up, the music was able to get your adrenaline pumping.  This game didn’t have that.  Almost all of everything that happens is quiet.  Which is nice, don’t get me wrong.  I like good use of quiet time.  But this isn’t Bloodborne. Or at least, it’s not supposed to be.  Even the music for the big set-pieces was so bland that you don’t even notice.  Not to mention – they didn’t have the series trademark theme!  How lame is that?!  Since music in games is such a big deal, for me, I couldn’t ignore this giant gaping hole.  Sorry if I come off as pretentious.

Overall, this game was a very nice ending to the franchise.  It’s done, and I am happy that it has ended here.  I can’t wait to see what kind of things Naughty Dog has in store for us next.  I will be waiting with baited breath to see what happens.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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