It seems like an age since I played Uncharted 3 on the PS3. Partially I can blame that on a delay to the original release date for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, but now it’s finally here and I can once again fill the boots of Nathan Drake and a few other characters in his latest adventure for fortune and glory.
This time around the game spans a long period in Nathan’s life. We see him as a small boy jumping rooftops of an orphanage along with his brother Sam, take part in a prison break before any of the adventure’s we’ve played with him in the past, then see him living a seemingly normal life 15 years later once all the shenanigans we’ve already played through have happened. We even get to play Crash Bandicoot on the PSOne which is a fun little nod to times gone by!
You’ll be right by that description that the game certainly does move at a sedate pace. Not counting the opening sequence, Nate doesn’t even shoot a gun until Chapter 6! Although the movement and action is great which I’ll come to later, there is also a lot of exposition and character-led storytelling here which I know isn’t to everyone’s liking. Walking round a dinner party and seeing long cut-scenes not involving our hero is just one of the ways you’ll watch the action but nevertheless, it does look incredible. The performance capture here is some of the best I’ve seen and really makes you warm to the memorable characters.
So what’s it like to play? Well, it’s incredibly smooth and the level of detail in movement is astonishing. Every single action and nuance is captured to the highest degree so whether you’re swinging across a gorge with the new grappling hook, sliding down a hill or just hiding in tall grass, you’ll love watching the action just as much as playing it. Yup, there’s a stealth element in here this time as well. You don’t have to play stealthily but there are moments you get the choice to go in guns blazing, sneak up and take people down silently or avoid enemies in areas altogether. It’s not Metal Gear Solid, but it does provide another element to gameplay.
Climbing about has been finessed further. You’ll know when you can make a leap because Nate reaches for ledges. You won’t jump to your death here unless you’re not paying attention. Fighting is also really fun, whether it’s gunplay or good old fisticuffs. Weirdly there’s not a block button when brawling but you can hit, roll out of the way to dodge or hit triangle to escape from a grapple. Your mates also join in and the whole thing feels just like a big bar fight you’d see in a Western or Indiana Jones. It’s solid! Guns are also good to shoot. Once again, they don’t really feel very meaty when fired but you can choose whether to snap onto targets or make things harder by manually aiming even when you hold the aim button. Shotguns, machine guns, pistols and dynamite are all there to be used as well as some special golden weapons that pack a bigger punch.
Puzzling also makes a welcome return. You’ll have to figure things out by consulting your journal and exploring the world around you, and they’re pretty satisfying to solve.
Obvious comparisons will be made to Rise of the Tomb Raider but these two games have a very different vibe to them. Whilst Tomb Raider is all about surviving a situation you’d rather not be in, Uncharted feels more like a buddy action move with charismatic characters and wisecracks even in when scaling great heights or in the middle of a gunfight.
It’s a fantastic game but, as with all things so tightly scripted, very linear. It will, however, give you an absolute blast and when you’re done with the story, there’s always the multiplayer to get into if you’re into that kind of thing. Uncharted 4 gets a blockbusting 9 out of 10.
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