Game Review: Uncharted 4

“Greatness from small beginnings…”

I spent the week before the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, replaying the original trilogy. I must have played these games at least a half dozen times each by now and I can’t help but be in awe of them yet again. The Uncharted series are arguably  among the greatest games ever created.

Nathan Drake’s adventures are like being part of an Indiana Jones film that goes on for 15 hours. These are beautiful, well written games, filled with characters who you immediately fall in love with and root for. This series always has it’s small share of minor annoyances…and after playing all of them consecutively, I can say that the first Uncharted can be a bit jerky control wise, sometimes making finding cover a chore. Uncharted 2 is rather flawless and EASILY my favorite of the series, with some of the most amazing action set pieces and well balanced gameplay. Uncharted 3 while smooth playing and filled with great moments, is very clunky in the shooting aspect of things, with a rigid cross-hair that you never quite get used to, making combat a genuine chore. These are very minor grievances however, as the pros of this magnificent series far outweigh the cons, making Uncharted an absolute delight to revisit over and over.

Which brings us to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End…Naughty Dogs final adventure with Nathan Drake. And what an adventure it is.

Let’s just get the most noticeable aspect of this game out of the way first, it is absolutely breathtaking visually. Never have I seen visuals on any platform that come close to the level of detail and beauty on display here. This is one gorgeous video game. The sheer amount of time it must have taken to bring this creation to life is unfathomable. This is truly the first “next gen” game to truly showcase what is possible with the power of the Playstation 4. Lush jungles, sandy beaches, ancient castles, all stunningly created and interactive. On more than one occasion, I would stop just to take in the scenery around me and marvel at it’s beauty. It’s that gorgeous.

Uncharted 4 is also the best the series has ever played. Never before has taking cover, shooting and scaling walls felt this good. Some minor button placement changes took a little adjusting, but after a while it truly felt how this series should have played this entire time. New elements such as the grappling hook and sliding down steep hills are a welcome addition and handle wonderfully as well.

My only real problem with Uncharted 4, is a bit hard to put into words without coming across as too critical…and that’s with the pacing. This adventure (like all Uncharted games) is very story driven, but there were times where I felt I was doing a bit too much cut scene watching and not enough playing, a first in this series. Action set pieces, while spectacular as always, do feel a bit few and far between here. There are also some gameplay elements that feel repetitive and tedious…I mean, how many times do I really need to push a crate? I felt myself being taken out of the game quite a few times due to some very oddly placed elements. I also feel that the story being told here, while engaging, well written and furthering the story of young Nathan Drake is kind of a wimpy Macguffin for a final adventure. Nathans brother Sam is a great addition and the chemistry is really great. I also enjoyed the villainous Nadine, who is an absolute badass. Also returning are Sully (who has less of a part to play here) and Elena, who now married to Drake brings a whole other level of complexity and understanding to their already great relationship.

Beautiful, perfectly controlled, wonderfully acted and as marvelous a game as they come, Uncharted 4 stalls a bit here and there, but a bittersweet, yet satisfying ending really wrap things up nicely for this now decade old series.

As much as it makes me sad that there will not be another Uncharted game to look forward to, I am feverishly waiting to see what developer Naughty Dog creates next. After the success of Uncharted and The Last of Us, they have proven they understand that gaming is a medium that can transcend a narrative driven experience in ways that books and cinema cannot.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune 4/5
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 5/5
Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception 3.5/5
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End 4.5/5

-Sock Talk Jon-

Sock Talk Podcast Episode 60: Louie!!!

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Episode Runtime: 2:02:27
Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Sock Talk! This week Phil Caron and Jon Healy, the producers of the documentary  “My Name Is Jonah”, talk to their good friend and delightful online curmudgeon, Louie Falcetti. No subject is too taboo: Religion, depression, life’s failures, Babbages. The list goes on.

It’s been a while, but it’s kind of been worth the wait. Listen, won’t you?

Also, if you’d like to donate to Sock Talk Jon’s animated project you can do so here: www.patreon.com/progenitor

Music intro and outro: Provided by Lugubrious Moron

Phil Healy Website: I Hunger Productions
Jon Caron Website: Asylum Studios Photography + Design

Sock Talk Podcast Episode 58: The Tangential Tango

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Episode Runtime: 2:31:04
Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Sock Talk! This week Phil Caron and Jon Healy, the producers of the documentary  “My Name Is Jonah” , get down to brass tax with the award-winning filmmaker Jim McDonough of ‘Manicorn’ fame. Both Phil and Jim are rampant tangent turners so be prepared to hang on for dear life as they try to figure out what they were originally talking about. It’s podcast magic! Meanwhile, Jon continues to rant about the modern nerd. Listen, won’t you?

Music intro and outro: Provided by Ross LaFond

Phil Healy Website: I Hunger Productions
Jon Caron Website: Asylum Studios Photography + Design

Sock Talk Podcast Episode 56: Ethan Entertainment Expo

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Episode Runtime:
1:38:38
Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Sock Talk! This week Phil Healy and Jon Caron, the producers of the documentary  “My Name Is Jonah” bring “Opportunist Ethan” back to the show! We discuss E3, Jurassic World, Final Fantasy 7, love, life and nerdery galore!

Music intro and outro: Provided by Consider the Source

Phil Healy Website: I Hunger Productions
Jon Caron Website: Asylum Studios Photography + Design