As our co-founder Respawn Rossco makes his way through Uncharted 4 in order to review it, I have completed the campaign and dabbled in a few online matches. It’s a good game. There are aspects of it that are great. No doubt. Perhaps the best visuals I’ve ever seen. Incredible performances from the actors behind the iconic characters as well as new faces that do an amazing job. That said, there’s been a lot of heat for some outlets as of late for their unpopular opinion of this final installment. I get it. You’re very sensitive right now. Naughty Dog have been telling you that this is the end. The “feels” are deep for you at the moment. Emotions cannot be expected to be controlled because it’s not as if we’re all rational human beings with a firm grasp on our own behaviour…. except that the majority of us are. So, knowing that Ross’ attachment to the Uncharted franchise will no doubt result in a glowing review – a review I’ll be perfectly fine with, as I trust Ross’ judgement more than most – I’ve decided to do a quick editorial on what I personally liked and disliked about the game. This is The Pros and Cons of Uncharted 4. Let’s do three for each. Spoiler-free, of course.
Everything to do with the visuals.
It’s stunning. Look at that face. Face of a champion, I say. Seriously though, the scenes you’ll see throughout the game are breathtaking. To the point that, if you disagree, I may have to schedule you for a check-up at your local GP. You may be suffering from delusions of grandeur. All jokes aside (calm down PC people – I know you’ve got that junk in the trunk), Naughty Dog have always made the most of Sony’s hardware and Uncharted 4 proves it once again.
The Story. All of it.
Having reviewed the previous Uncharted games as a newcomer to the trilogy (at the time), I found the characters engaging for the most part but there was always something that bothered me. A boring villain, usually. Sometimes the antagonist simply wasn’t fleshed out. This time, however, the narrative is stellar throughout. I had my issues with the pacing at times, but that was more of a combat issue as I wanted desperately to reach the next piece of the story and the combat itself isn’t much fun.
Easter Eggs Galore.
Naughty Dog know better than most what it is that they’ve done with their time. Many a past work gets a nod or two throughout Uncharted 4, and that’s all I can really say without spoiling it.
Uncharted is as Uncharted has always been.
Coming from me, a huge fan of Dynasty Warriors, this can be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s not that what Uncharted does is bad, but this is the fifth time we’ve been doing it. The law of diminishing returns is as strong as it’s ever been here, and I felt that “Oh…. this again” feeling more than once. It stands to reason that people that have eagerly awaited an Uncharted and don’t have to play hundreds of games between as I do won’t be as phased, and Naughty Dog have made improvements as the games have progressed, but for the most part it’s run around / jump to your death from a rope / have a poor encounter with enemies and repeat the process.
Archaic Third-Person Shooting.
This is my biggest issue with the entire franchise. For everything that Naughty Dog have improved upon, the third-person shooting feels like a relic from a by-gone era. The guns are just “meh”. The sights are weak. The handling often feels off to me. For all of the shooting games that have plagued our great nations for years, you’d think Uncharted would have absorbed some lessons, but alas, the shooting mechanics feel as they always have, and I’ve never liked them in Uncharted. I have always found myself playing Uncharted to reach the next bit of plot, and the shooting has always felt like an annoying obstacle to that.
The trademark Naughty Dog “Why don’t YOU control this cut-scene?” moment(s).
Gee-whizz Mister! You mean I can really walk slowly around this mansion looking at a million white books before finding the white book I’m actually looking for!? Thanks! Seriously though, it’s a Naughty Dog thing that you control these narrative-driven moments that could have been “relegated” to a straight-up cut-scene which, to me, would actually be a promotion. I couldn’t care less about walking around until the person that’s with me says something that triggers an advancement. Having these “controlled” moments that are essentially just an illusion of control only serves to take me out of the moment. They frustrate me. I’m gripped by the story already. Why not let me put that pad down and enjoy the moment more often? It’s just a personal gripe. I’m sure some of you loved putting on the Samurai helmet. Riveting. Truly.
And there you have it! It’s a reductive way of looking at the collective impressiveness of Uncharted 4 as a package, but let’s be realistic about this: as an actual game, from a gameplay perspective, Uncharted 4 doesn’t break new ground. Naughty Dog’s strengths appear to be tight narratives, eventful platforming and a high quality, polished final product. Nothing to sneeze at, but now I want them to move on. Though the cash cow of The Last of Us 2 can be heard mooing in the distance, I really hope that Naughty Dog does for the Playstation 4 what it did for the Playstation 3: provide us with a face for the product. Nathan Drake is great. I love his journey. Nolan North is a personal idol. That said, though I hope Nolan has many, many years ahead of him, I think it’s time we let the established franchises rest and see something truly new from a studio capable of making it happen.
Thank you for reading. Reach me @SpitfireDG.