Before we even kick off into the unbridled gushing that I’m going to do about this game, I just want to say that this review will be spoiler free. For those of you that have never played an Uncharted game you could play this one and still enjoy the story for what it is and have a great time in this world. Having said that, you’re going to get the most out of this game if you’ve played the previous games. The story beats and emotional impact are some of the best, if not, the best parts about it. It took me a couple days to collect myself and my thoughts just to write this out. Take your time, and smell the roses, because it’s been almost 5 years since we’ve had one of these games and we may never get another one. I wish you the best of luck remaining spoiler free.
Naughty Dog knocked this out of the park and they stand at the top of the developer Totem Pole. The reverence and care that goes into every single blade of grass, every line of dialogue, and every set piece is what puts them on their own plane of existence and makes their games feel special. Uncharted 4 is a must play and if I didn’t already own a PS4 I would have gone out and purchased one specifically for this game. When the credits finally rolled after spending 17 hours exploring the sprawling levels I was blown away with the experience. Uncharted 4 isn’t a perfect game, but it was perfect for me and organically bookends one of the best stories in video game history. This is the epitome of what a game can be. Two and a half years into the Playstation 4’s existence and we have the capstone of their first party lineup. I don’t know how Naughty Dog keeps getting better at this and how nobody, absolutely nobody, does what they can do.
The Last of Us is all over Uncharted 4. That shouldn’t come as too much of a shock considering the directors of The Last of Us are heading up Uncharted 4. For me that’s a great thing considering it’s my favorite game of the previous generation. They’ve blended the larger areas, extra character interactions and more mature story telling with the fun pulpy action, over the top set pieces, and quick traversal that Uncharted has been lauded for over two console generations. Brilliantly marrying these two styles gave us an experience that is on par with the greatest of games I’ve ever played. Thankfully it never over steps its bounds and leaves Uncharted still intact of its own identity while still evolving past the previous games.
The world that these characters exist in and progress through feels organic and lived in. The design and aesthetics presented in the varying landscapes and locations are stunning. This game, most assuredly, has the largest exploration areas they’ve ever had in any of the previous Uncharted games. I caught myself on several occasions going off the beaten path just to experience more of what this developer obviously spent countless time creating. The branching paths that the combat scenarios have, as well as the multiple climbing sections give you so much more freedom than we’ve had in previous games. Looking for different ways to take out enemies besides just duck and cover gunfire was a blast. At one point I was pinned down by at least 10 enemies so I used the rope to swing down into another section of the level while doing a vertical takedown, rolled into a cover position and completely changed the perspective of the firefight. The choices you have in the action set pieces is another thing we should be thankful for when it comes to its lineage with The Last of Us.
That’s not a cutscene.
Without going into spoiler territory, the performances, story, music, and relationships this game conveys should be held on a pedestal for everyone else in the industry to marvel at. Much like the relationship that Joel and Ellie earned in the Last of Us, Nate and his family were the guiding light throughout my play through. The performances that Nolan North, Troy Baker, Richard McGonagle and especially Emily Rose put forth are simply jaw dropping. They conveyed such natural honest partnerships that I don’t know where we go from here in future games. These characters feel innate and logical. There was never a moment where anything they did took me out of the experience by doing something a real person wouldn’t do. Besides the whole, jumping 50 feet from cliff to cliff and holding on by two fingers.
Piggybacking on the performances, the ambient noise, sound effects, and music are also top drawer. After composing the previous games in the series Greg Edmonson, of Firefly fame, has been replaced with Henry Jackman, of Captain America: Civil War fame. While I’ll miss Edmonson’s style Jackman did a great job here and his music went together fantastically with the moods of the game. There is a tracking statistic that notates your time standing still. I had spent almost an hour standing in one place and admiring the vistas and listening to the ambient noise in the world. Honestly, I could have done it for another hour at least and I wouldn’t have been bored by it.
When we look back on this game months and years down the line I believe it will stand the test of time and be the kind of experience that is a must play for people that love video games. I find it somewhat comical that Naughty Dog has created my last two favorite games and turned me into a fanboy of theirs. Between Uncharted 4 and Ratchet and Clank I feel like my love of video games has been revitalized. In an era of online only shooters and unfinished products, Uncharted provides a level of love and polish that has sorely been lacking. I am blown away at just how much I adored my time in this world. They managed to turn the most mundane of moments and imbue them with an electricity that crackles and jumps off the screen. It was a joy to behold and if this really is our final adventure, Naughty Dog leaves us on the highest of notes. Sic Parvis Magna indeed.