Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016) Video Game Review

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 14.58.56

Right, we’re now on the last game of the Nathan Drake series known as Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End.  What is entailed when it’s called a thief’s end?  So much is left up for interpretation.  But that’s for you to witness.  So here we go.

Our story starts with Nathan Drake on a boat in the middle of the ocean with another man by the name of Sam.  The sea is incredibly rough due to a huge storm, and they are being chased by a huge militia.  Their boat is basically destroyed.  Several flashbacks happen to provide us with some more backstory to Nathan, including his time at the Catholic Orphanage and his time in prison in the late 90s.  We then see where Nate is, several years after the events of Uncharted 3 – He’s now retired from adventure and living an honest life working as a diver for a Marine Salvaging company.  He’s back with Elena, and their life is nice…but a bit boring for them.  However a job offered to Nathan in Malaysia seems to provide him with some excitement…His life then changes when Sam – his older brother, whom he thought dead, has returned with a request. He broke out of jail with the help of a ruthless man, who wants a huge payout from Sam in exchange for his life, through treasure.  The treasure?  Henry Avery’s $400 million fortune from the 1695 gun heist – a huge stash that has allured the brother since they were teenagers.  Reluctant at first, then giving into temptation – Nathan lies to Elena, saying he is taking the job in Malaysia – and with the help of Sully, they head to Italy to retrieve their first clue – the St Dismas Cross (a wooden idol of the thief to whom Jesus Christ said “On this day you’ll be with me in paradise”).

Now to venture into the details:

The graphics…The graphics are absolutely amazing, as it not only surpassed what The Last Of Us had accomplished, but it managed to be easily 1 of the best looking games on the PS4.  Much like the original trilogy was on the PS3 (before it was remastered on the PS4), it flows at the cinematic frame rate of 30 frames per second (The trilogy flows at 60FPS on the PS4) which provides a nice touch…and when you consider the size and detail of the game…maybe it’s for the best at this time, unless the Playstation 5 offered a 60 frames version.

The art style is absolutely inspired!  So much variety in the scenery, so much to look at.  A truly organic looking game.  I really went all out with the game’s Photo Mode.  Adoring everything that was presented to me, and almost wishing it was real.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 15.14.17

This view…

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 15.14.34

This inside joke…

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 15.14.57

This mood…

The gameplay…if you didn’t think they could have upped the gameplay from Uncharted 2, you’re in for a surprise.  Along with Nate’s melee attacks being improved yet again, We’re also given new ways of attacking and getting around.  You now have the option of driving, whether it be by boat or by jeep (rather than just being the gunman all the time), the ability to take out hordes of soldiers using only stealth (much like Metal Gear games), and of course…the grappling hook.  Which adds more to the puzzle aspects of the exploration.  I had an incredible amount of fun with this, and didn’t feel any boredom from it.

The music for the first time in the series’ history is not done by Greg Edmundson, but rather Henry Jackman, whose CV includes Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Big Hero 6 and both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War.  To be very clear, this doesn’t stop the game from having a highly memorable score in its own right.  By not having its original theme song, it instantly suggests a change in direction or simply something new…and that something new is from being played on the next generation system.

Uncharted 4 has a bittersweetness to it when you consider that Amy Hennig, the Director and 1 of the 3 writers of the original trilogy, wasn’t involved in this game.  However, despite her absence, the story is excellent.  Really excellent in fact.  If you’ve journeyed with these characters before, then you’ll notice that this is the series’ storytelling at its most advance and well polished.  While The Golden Abyss was full of one-upmanship in dialogue – Uncharted 4 managed to make this game absolutely hilarious.  The banter between all of them, not just Nate, Sully and Sam, is fantastic.  It remembers the importance of fun, but at the same time it manages to avoid some cliches.  This game is also where you see Nate and Elena’s relationship at its most mature, as it is here we see Elena’s greatest acceptance of who Nate is and what he does, as well as Nate’s feeling that he really has something to lose.  The main villains, Rafe Adler and Nadine Ross, would in their own right be pretty scary.  Rafe is a smirking, selfish, millionaire psychopath who reminds me of pro wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, while Nadine, a paramilitary leader, is more or less a South African Melina May – You don’t get into a fist fight with her.

Would I recommend Uncharted 4?  Yes – if you’re a human being.  Uncharted 4 took what made every instalment before it great, and created what is likely the best possible outcome.  It’s refined, yet with more to see and do.  It’s possibly 1 of the funniest games I’ve ever played.  So full of life and intrigue.  If this is the last time we ever play as Nathan Drake, I don’t mind, because it might never be topped.  An absolute pleasure of a video game.

Graphics: *****

Art Style: *****

Voice Acting: *****

Characters: *****

Story: *****

Music: *****

Gameplay: *****

Overall: *****


Assassin’s Creed 4 Video Game Review

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 15.13.25

After reviewing Assassin’s Creed 3 and Liberation, I’m guessing some of you saw this 1 coming.  With Unity just around the corner, to be set in a country with a sense of humour that has influenced me since Amelie, I figured it might be good to play this 1 first…even if I might not be reviewing Unity for a long time, as I don’t have a PS4.  Now onto the obvious question; How is Assassin’s Creed 4?  We’ll begin by discussing and even comparing it.

Assassin’s Creed 4 in set during the Golden Age of Piracy in and around the Islands near Florida, including Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas, and revolves around the life and work (collateral damage) of a man named Edward Kenway.  Edward is from Swansea, making him the 1st Welshman to appear in the franchise.  It will also be recognised that unlike our previous Assassins such as Altair, Ezio, Connor and Aveline, Edward doesn’t exactly fit in with their kind.  How is this?  Am I suggesting that this Assassin’s Creed game involves playing as someone who isn’t an Assassin?  Correct!  Edward is not an Assassin, but rather a Pirate seeking his fortune.  After killing an Assassin who sank his ship, he steals his robes and travels to a destination written on a letter the Assassin was carrying, as well as some crystal cube.  He arrives at the destination, only to find that he will be playing the role of an Assassin who is defecting to the Templars and joining their cause.  So what does poor Edward end up doing?  Well, he ends up ruining everything.  He not only annoys the Templars, but he annoys the Assassins as well.  After acquiring his own ship, meeting up with other treasure-hungry pirates (including Blackbeard, Mary Read, Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny, and of course, “Black” Bart Roberts.) and even offering to make amends with the Assassins, our adventure begins, and you know what?  I really didn’t mind.

Assassin’s Creed 4 can be described in 2 ways.  1 way involves saying “This game improves on everything Assassin’s Creed 3 introduces and finally has much better characters, background and story.”  Another description is that quality-wise it is like a threesome between the controls and gameplay elements of Assassin’s Creed 2 and 3, and the quality characters and storytelling of both Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed Liberation.  To make it even simpler, this is easily 1 of the most fun games I’ve played, not only from the series, or on the PS3, but ever.  I loved this game.  So much so that I rate it up there with Assassin’s Creed 2, it was so enjoyable.  While Assassin’s Creed 3 gave you plenty to do, it felt boring after a while.  But with ‘4, you have plenty to do, but it’s still really good fun!  I took great pleasure in captaining my own ship in order to capture or sink other ships (usually owned by the English or Spanish), as well as upgrading this ship (called The Jackdaw) so that I could eventually go after ships with greater rewards, and even try my hand against the legendary ships (Including El Impoluto…1 of the scariest battles I can remember having in a long time).

The graphics are about as good as the PS3 can get (from a game not called The Last Of Us), I loved the backgrounds/settings, and the characters in this were absolutely awesome.  If you’re an Assassin’s Creed veteran, you’ll be happy to know that the game focuses almost entirely on the story of Edward Kenway.  The Desmond Miles story continues to a much lesser degree (Yay!!), but rather than it being about Desmond Miles, it is now all about you!  In a breaking-the-forth-wall fashion, the main baddies from the series, Asbergo, have now repackaged themselves as an entertainment company, where people can experience exciting aspects of the past like they were actually there.  Or lets say they are “employed” to experience it.  To make it even more amusing is the fact that Ubisoft (creator of the game) mention themselves as the 1s working with Asbergo to make this happen.  A nice little in-joke.

The biggest complaint I have about the game is actually the battles.  Whether or not they were trying to be more realistic, or whether this was a bug, it has to be pointed out – multi-man battles no longer have a rhythm to them, and sometimes you will be attacked by someone who is off camera, making you unprepared.  Yes, it does increase the difficulty, but to be caught off-guard like that can get very annoying, particularly if you’re surrounded by Brutes, the big 1s with axes that can’t be countered.

Also the collectables are rather awesome.  Which includes old naval songs called Sea Shanties.  If you collect the music scores that try to fly away from you, they will eventually be sung by your crew on the Jackdaw, providing us with a greater appreciation of songs such as Drunken Sailor, Fish In The Sea, Lowlands Away and Johnny Boker.  If only music in Skyrim was this good.  The actual music score is also awesome, yet different to the rest of the series.  It was composed by Brian Tyler, who also did the music score for another little gem called Far Cry 3, which is about surviving on an island full of modern day pirates.  For some reason, this was perfect for him.

AC4’s DLC is very good, but it’s not the best.  The multiplayer aspect is great fun, and for me it was great to get an extra story involving Aveline (1 of my favourite characters), however at only 4 missions long, it doesn’t really add anything new to her, other than maybe suggest a teacher-role in her later years.  She still has her french sarcasm though.  And then there is Freedom Cry, which focuses on Adewale, the trinidadian slave who became Edward’s Quartermaster. and eventually a member of the assassins and a captain of his own ship.  His story focuses primarily on the Maroon Rebellion, and while slavery was evident in AC4, in this story it’s everywhere!  Thankfully, Adewale is much more interesting than Connor, so it was good, as he was already an interesting but mysterious character in AC4…consider his partnership with Kenway to be much better than the 1 between Virgil and the Million Dollar Man.  I would consider Freedom Cry to not only be an extra to AC4 to develop Adewale.  But also as a stand-alone taster of what the full game can actually be like if you end up buying Freedom Cry as a stand-alone without AC4.

So, conclusion.  If you like Assassin’s Creed games, this 1 is easily in the top 2 or 3 best of the series.  If you like Pirates, you’ll like this game anyway.  If you like Pirates Of The Carribean, consider this to be like the harsh reality of your favourite characters.  If you’re an avid video gamer, for goodness sake get this game!  It is 1 few Assassin’s Creed games that (almost) requires no other instalment in the series, and if it becomes your first taste of the AC series, then I think it will interest you in the rest of the story.  However be warned that this is the most advanced instalment of the series in terms of gameplay so far, so consider the times when you go backwards.  I still consider Assassin’s Creed 2 to be a 5-star game, but it’s a 5-star game within the context of its release in 2009.  Anyway.  It’s a game that should be in anybody’s game collection, whether it be from this generation’s consoles or the last 1.

Overall: ***** out of 5