“Sic Parvis Magna” is Sir Francis Drake’s motto and it roughly translates to “Greatness from small beginnings”. Developer Naughty Dog adds an Easter Egg of sorts by including a nod to their beginnings (I’ll let the rest be a surprise for you that pick it up) as well as the greatness which is the game itself.
The story takes place 3 years after Uncharted 3. Nathan Drake and Elena are happily married. Drake has given up his treasure hunter ways to work with a salvage company picking up resources from shipwrecks. Things go awry when he finds out that his brother Sam, who was presumed dead, re-enters his life to retrieve the treasure of Henry Avery worth an estimated 400 million dollars to pay off a debt that Sam acquired in prison. They are trying to reach the treasure before a former associate, Rafe Adler. The story is Nathan’s most personal yet and there is a lot at risk. I won’t delve deeper into the plot to avoid spoilers, but the story is serviceable and does a great job with it’s narration and presentation just like the past Uncharted installments. It is told out of place with some flashbacks (which feel slow at times) but it is necessary to discovering how Nathan Drake became Nathan Drake.
I am writing this literally after I finished the game. Promised Kyle a review and a review he shall receive. [Editors Note: This is accurate. We’re on top of our writers here *laughs*]
Let me start off by talking about what I viewed as negative. The game starts off slow to say the least. The pacing for the first act feels as though as it serves as a tutorial for newcomers, and it is not until around chapter 10 that the game really starts really picking up. Sam, spelled in this game “P-L-O-T-D-E-V-I-C-E” does not really carry the emotional weight that you would expect him to. It feels like the first act, although it acts as an “introduction”, is just there to help with the character building of Sam since he is absent throughout the entire original trilogy. Writer Neil Druckmann, who also wrote the story of “The Last of Us” wanted to bring something new to the table and I saw the merit there. The plot itself is a bit predictable and it feels like a a rehash of the previous plots but it did not take away from my experience.
That’s really all I had an issue with.
As for the positives, well, there’s a lot.
First, Graphics and Presentation: LOOK
I was toying around with the photo mode so much during the game which certainly added to my play time because the game looked gorgeous. Everything you saw in the demos and trailers are basically what you get with the game and it does not disappoint. The presentation is fantastic as well. There are so many small details that just add to the immersion of the game. Mud gets on Nathan if he rolls in it and it washes off if he falls into a river. There are various wildlife in the jungle that scramble about if Nathan gets too close. Clouds roll in through the mountains. If Nathan Drake is facing the sun, he’ll put his hand up to cover his face. The characters actually take steps on stairs as opposed to just walking in an upward/downward pattern. I’m nitpicking at this point but the attention to detail is there and it is fantastic. The voice acting is amazing as well. Nolan North taking up the role of Nathan Drake once again as well as Emily Rose as Elena Fisher and Richard McGonagle as Victor Sullivan. Newcomer to the franchise Troy Baker plays Nate’s brother Sam Drake, and boy are North’s and Baker’s interactions fantastic. They really breathe life into the characters. Any of the conversations the characters have just feels natural. There is a point in the game where Nate is just beat to hell and just staggering all over the place and you feel for the guy. After seeing him go from ancient civilization to fighting armies, you just see the vulnerability from the animation and the voicework.
The gameplay is phenomenal as well. Sticking to the cover-based shooting mechanics and traversing of the environment like the past Uncharted games, there are enough additions for the game to feel new but still entirely familiar. For one, there is an openness to the combat. You can stick to the guns blazing approach or you can take a more stealth approach (which I love). You can tag enemies like in Metal Gear or Far Cry games, which I thought was implemented cause most games do it now, but it works well with keeping track of your assailants. As always you have “partners” but unlike other games where partners tend to get in the way and typically use your ammo or die (ahem Resident Evil), the partners are entirely helpful. You can do combo takedowns with your partner and your partner also helps tag enemies you haven’t seen yet. (Something I did notice is that when playing stealthily, your partner can be out in the open but the enemies won’t spot them for some reason. Also, when one enemy sees you, no matter how isolated you are suddenly EVERYONE knows where you are. Once again, nitpicking but it doesn’t ruin the game.)
The addition of the hook and rope helps with the gameplay as well. Not only does the traversal have an added feel of verticality, it also helps with getting around the environment whether you are going progressing through the story or trying to get around enemies to get a stealth kill.
The multiplayer is fun as well. It feels like there’s more to it than running and gunning compared to other multiplayer games, since you are given different add ons which come from Uncharted 4 itself like the rope. There are also power ups that come from the previous games like “The Wrath of El Dorado”. If you’ve played the beta, it is nearly identical. Fast paced and fun, it doesn’t do anything to reinvent the multiplayer shooter but I can tell I’ll be spending time playing this mode.
I can’t say anything more than the fact that I am satisfied with the way this franchise ended. Although it felt like the first act of the game dragged on, it just got better and better as the game progressed. It’s an immersive experience that does a fantastic job of story-telling and just being an overall great game. The action is great with more refined combat, the exploration is fun and treacherous at the same time and the game is just great. I’ll be playing this game again to pick up more of what I didn’t during my first play through especially with the bonuses you get when you finish the game (they’re novelty, but fun regardless). Naughty Dog has given us this treasure and I highly suggest you pick it up soon.
You can follow the author on twitter at: @KendrewLamar