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by Daniel Boylan
The Uncharted series has always been renowned for its over the top action and amazing set pieces, which are second to none in the Video Game industry and even rival Hollywood blockbuster action movies. With that in mind it should come as no surprise that A Thief’s End takes what has come before and dials the action up to 11 with shootouts and chases that would put John McClane to shame. Considering the fact that Nathan Drake is a fairly regular looking guy, Naughty Dog have a talent for making you feel like a one man army when controlling him.
Bear with me here, while this is often a source of annoyance for us, the delay of a game is more often than not a blessing in disguise. I was just as excited as the next guy about the prospect of getting to play Nathan Drake’s latest (and hopefully greatest) adventure in time for Christmas, but over the years I’ve seen more than enough games suffer because of a publisher’s insistence on meeting that deadline. The fact that Naughty Dog weren’t afraid to delay a game of this magnitude out past the busy Christmas period and beyond, speaks volumes about how serious they are about delivering the best possible conclusion to the Uncharted series. To quote Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros. “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”.
While it’s true that great gameplay is far more important than great graphics, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have both. The Uncharted series still has some of the most beautifully rendered scenery on any format, and that’s saying a lot considering it’s all being pumped out on decade old hardware. Somehow Naughty Dog has managed to surpass what they’ve created before by such a margin that it makes the original trilogy look like a tech demo, showing once again that they’re the masters of squeezing every drop of power out of whatever platform they happen to be working on at the time. Prepare for some serious eye candy.
One of the most talked about new features in Uncharted 4 is the ability to actually control vehicles, rather than always being restricted to the passenger seat in the fast paced car chases and vehicular shootouts. One area of the game that has been previewed involves driving a jeep downhill through the twists and turns of a busy town, which also demonstrates another new element of the game: branching paths. Whereas older titles always led you in a strictly linear path to your destination, this time around there is room for a little more freedom. We’re not talking about Grand Theft Auto or Fallout levels of sandbox/open world style gameplay – there is still a very focused narrative at play here, but it makes the action feel a little less scripted with the simple addition of multiple routes. Even the environments themselves are more open than in previous efforts, with more populated crowds and background characters going about their business. All of this really helps freshen up the experience without reinventing the wheel, but more importantly without losing what makes the series so fun to begin with.
Why miss out on the entire PS3 Uncharted trilogy, with Metacritic scores of 88, 96 and 92 respectively, when it has been remastered for PS4 in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection? It takes each campaign in its entirety and buffs up the visuals, jumping from 30 frames per second to 60 in the process. This gives the action a much smoother feel, which along with the tweaks in balance to the gunplay, tightens up the controls nicely. The banter between characters, particularly Drake and his old friend Sully are as amusing as ever and the action sequences haven’t suffered at all with age. Whether you’ve yet to sample the delights of the series or are a seasoned veteran who will only accept beating the game on “Crushing” as a true finish, this a serious package that will get you up to speed/refresh your memory before April 29th.