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'Uncharted 4', a gaming masterpiece
May 12, 2016
By John Powell - G4 Canada
'Uncharted 4: A Thief's End' does something quite unique: It makes you care. From start to finish, you are fully captivated by its narrative and the plight of the characters, namely Nathan "Nate" Drake. Through the clever writing over the years by Amy Hennig, Neil Druckmann, Tom Bissell and Josh Scherr as well as the outstanding voice acting by Nolan North, Nathan has come into his own as a video game icon, leaving the inspiration of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider far behind.
'Thief's End', the best installment in such an already exceptional series, reunites Drake with his good friend Victor "Sully" Sullivan (voiced by Richard McGonagle) and introduces Nathan's brother, Sam. Their backstory, which plays out throughout the first part of the game, is shrewdly positioned establishing the motivation and the emotion that pushes you onward.
Since 'Drake's Deception', our tomb-raiding hero has sought out a more private, a more simple life. Retiring from the treasure-hunting business and marrying his sometime partner in crime and journalist, Elena Fisher, Nathan is shaken to the core by the return of his long-lost older brother, Sam, who also doubled as Nate's father figure growing up.
Thought dead when a past adventure went very wrong, Sam actually survived disaster and escaped prison courtesy of his crime boss cellmate. It all came with a price though. Sam has only a few months to uncover a legendary pirate treasure and deliver a large portion of it to the impatient boss or he will be sleeping with the fishes.
The treasure hunt takes Sam, Nate and Sully from a mountain top estate, to an ancient Spanish prison, to the rugged Scottish cliffs and the jungles of Madagascar. They are far from alone in their pursuit of the pirate booty though. Former partner turned competing treasure hunter, the ruthless Rafe Adler, his merciless mercenary Nadine Ross and their interchangeable gun-toting goons are also searching for the brigand's fortune.
There are fire-fights aplenty, some intricate traps, puzzles to be solved and lots of climbing…lots and lots of climbing, perhaps more than in any other 'Uncharted' game. Swinging with your trusty grappling hook, sliding down rocky hills and scaling rock wall after embankment after cliff face is the core of 'A Thief's End'. It is truly a parkour lover's dream. All of that climbing and mountaineering though is not done without any consideration. How to get where you want to go is often just as vexing as figuring out those perilous traps and riddles. They are curious dilemmas all to themselves.
You will never get bored traversing those cross-country settings however. So beautifully detailed and so vividly brought to life, the emerald jungles are teeming with life, the snow-capped mountains shiver and in the dusty crypts every echo will have you looking over your shoulder. 'Thief's End' is a masterpiece of sight and sound.
The attention to detail doesn't end there though. What elevates 'Thief's End' beyond your average release and Naughty Dog above your standard developer is the meticulous craftsmanship. It is those subtle details that give the production so much life and so much character. When Drake slides down a hill, he stands up and brushes off his pants. Through the slightest facial movement, a wrinkling of the brow or an up-turned lip, so much unspoken emotion is conveyed by the characters. The way a whisper of dust drifts off the door of tomb when you open it. These all seem like small things but they demonstrate how dedicated Naughty Dog is to every aspect of 'Thief's End'.
All of the shootouts, adrenaline-fuelled action scenes, harrowing climbs and escapes and tricky puzzles in 'Thief's End' wouldn't amount to much without the supporting storyline. Filled with so much heart, intrigue and genuine feeling, 'Thief's End' is more than just a game, it is an experience that connects with you on a very emotional level.
'Thief's End' is not only one of the very best video games ever made, it is one of the best stories ever told in this medium of electronic pixels, bits and bytes.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Rating: 9.5 / 10
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