Thursday, January 12, 2017

Game Review: Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a perfect escape. Its characters, story, and locations are absorbing and entertaining. It flawlessly combines stunning visuals, ridiculously fun climbing mechanics, and easy puzzles and gun fights. Best of all, it's a compact adventure and will take 20 hours or less to complete! How refreshing!

Summary: Nathan Drake returns as the wise-cracking treasure hunter, this time in search of Henry Avery's legendary pirate booty. But he's not doing it for the hundreds of millions of dollars -- he needs it to save his brother Sam's life. How noble!

Heroes: In this edition, Nate is torn between his current normal life and his explorer instincts. Meanwhile, series regulars Sully (Nate's longtime mentor/partner) and Elena (Nate's wife) are back and as supportive as ever, in terms of both the physical work and the emotional heft. Elena is particularly moving, with the amazing graphics team giving her eyes an expressiveness that Nate is afraid to face. Sully is as dependably gruff and clutch as ever. As for newcomer Sam, he brings a new layer to Nate's background, and his obsession with the treasure acts as a foil to his now-cautious little brother. How interesting!

Villains: There are two antagonists also looking for Avery's treasure. Both are suitably ruthless, with a dash of psychotic for rich boy Rafe, who's backed up by Nadine Ross and her mercenary army. I winced every time Nate had to face Nadine because he never stands a chance. Those triceps! Meanwhile, Rafe presents a challenge to the uncoordinated, and that is all I shall say. How mysterious!

Combat: This element of Uncharted is easy and predictable. Have you been climbing for the past 30 minutes? Are you now in an area where there's lots of places to duck behind? Well then, time for a gun battle! Conveniently, Nate can sneak up on enemies and steal their weapons, and there are bullets galore just lying around. Players can even choose to just straight up ninja and sneak-concuss bad guys one by one. Mix it up! How delightful!

Puzzles: Hahahahahahaaaaaa~ ...Listen, come talk to me about puzzles after playing Alundra! How simple!  

Sound: As always, all the voice work is impeccable, and blends effectively with the minimalist sound effects and thrilling score. There are long stretches during gameplay where all you hear are Nate's footsteps and his breathing, the silence broken by birdsong or rustling. I highly recommend having headphones on for this game. How sound!

Twist: There are two "twists," both telegraphed early on, and tied with the title. ***Obviously, spoilers: 1) Sam claims a drug lord sprang him from prison in exchange for half of Avery's loot, but actually, Rafe got him out to help him find it and Sam double-crossed him so he and Nate could get it instead! In my opinion, this would have been so much more dramatic if Sam were the drug lord all along! WHAT! ...Right?; 2) Avery convinced other pirate captains to pool together all their treasure and then betrayed them and tried to escape with everything! And they all killed each other! So basically everyone's a thief and there is no honor among thieves. How terrible!

Bonus Category! 
Spouse Credit Score: 800. My very generous and loving husband bought me the Uncharted 4 PS4 bundle for Christmas. He also threw in Final Fantasy XV with a Masamune DLC, and followed up with Rise of the Tomb Raider. It's almost as if he wants me distracted for the rest of the winter...ಠ_ಠ How diabolical?

TL;DR: A spectacular action/adventure game!


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