My first experience with Uncharted came at the tail-end of PS3's cycle, when I purchased one about a year before the PS4 came out and feasted upon all the games I didn't get to play for the last eon. One of my friends was generous enough to insist I dive into the Uncharted series--a system seller and a staple in the Sony library. The Last Of Us had not come out yet, so my exposure to Naughty Dog's new era was very limited indeed. At the behest of others, I skipped Drake's Fortune and moved on to Among Thieves. From the train crash onward, I was absolutely in love with what amounted to Indiana Jones made flesh in gaming form; the setpieces were amazing, the presentation fresh, and the graphics mindblowing. I enjoyed Uncharted 2 the same way I enjoyed Last Of Us: a huge experience that didn't easily worm its way into my head as a "must-replay" due to its journey's depth and overall gunplay being not as fun as you'd want it to be. Uncharted 4 is supposed to be the crown jewel of Sony's technical prowess--does it make the grade?
Perhaps surprisingly, I don't have too much to say about UC4 in terms of the things it accomplishes; it's a big step up from certain pitfalls in the series due to new aim options, stealth play, grappling hook segments (which always make any game better), and even some nice vehicle levels. It's an Uncharted game for sure, and one that approaches the end of the line with tact and proper emotional resonance. All the loose threads of deus ex fraterna Sam Drake and the story of their origins are tied up nicely in a tale more grounded than the mystic bullshit of previous games, instead focused on a complex pirate utopia that predictably turns to hell. There's treasure, betrayal, flashbacks, and more crates than you can handle--this is Uncharted at its best, but it's also on a somewhat predictable leash.
The problems I have with UC4 basically stem from familiarity, which in turn breeds contempt. I can't personally say I felt contempt, but rather a degree fatigue crept up as I limped to the last fourth of the game, followed by relief as I came to the closure. Climbing up cliffsides followed by a shootout followed by a box or rope puzzle bored me after a long while, but luckily the bigger setpieces (the getaway/rescue of Sam, the galleon invasion, the auction house) are just as memorable as the thrills I played through back in UC2. I was hammering the X button to rush through a few climbing segments near the end, as the only worthwhile part of those later missions came from staring in awe at the vistas and locations ND has crafted.
This game has to be one of the most technically gorgeous, if not the most gorgeous, on a home console; there's really no comparing the way it looks to anything else in existence. How everything runs at a stable 30fps is beyond me, but I wish ND would share the wealth so we could get more quality like this on the PS4.
I'm not sure how well Uncharted games stand the test of replayability, but there's quite a lot of treasure and collectibles to accumulate during the journey--and they're extremely well-hidden this time around. Although the treasures aren't that interesting, they do help towards your final endgame stats, which in turn give you points to spend towards skins, cheats, and weapons. ND was particularly generous this time, letting you buy a variety of stupid filters, infinite ammo, and almost any weapon with a pittance of the points given. You'll likely be able to afford anything you want after the game ends, and you can even select chapters based on each encounter within them--a huge deal, in my opinion.
UC4 also ships with a multiplayer mode, which runs at 60fps and is actually quite fun. The matchmaking ain't the best, and death comes at a brisk pace, but the mad dash jumping and swinging around ruins while shooting up everyone as Sullivan dressed as Walter White is hilarious. Granted, it ain't gonna have anything on Overwatch or dedicated MP games, but it's a neat addition to the package that I genuinely like playing.
Uncharted 4, in summary, seems like more of the same but to an insanely polished and revamped degree. There's nothing wrong with being "the ultimate Uncharted package," as Uncharted 4 by itself is a great game that absolutely deserves a playthrough. It does, however, start to slog whenever the action takes a break to enforce a box "puzzle" or very formulaic climbing; my memories of segments like the clock tower ascension outweigh the droll cliff descents. The gunplay, in essence, is still not the greatest in third person history. The strong suit of Uncharted is its well-balanced story and construction, doing multiple things very well while offering up the most sumptuous visuals you'll see this generation. It should be an essential play for anyone with a PS4, and being an essential game is no small feat for something that is tasked with closing out such a bombastic and adventurous series.
Amazing and topical!