In 2007, Naughty Dog introduced us to the world of Nathan Drake, Elena Fischer and Victor Sullivan through Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, which released to good reviews and sales. Two years later, Naughty Dog released Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and blew everyone's socks off with a groundbreaking game - it nabbed some of the most critical acclaim of any game in video-game history and was showered with awards and accolades. Another 2 years passed, and it was time for Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception which also released to high praise and great review but was seen as a bit of a step down from the second one. And now, 5 years later (the longest gap between Uncharted games), we have [Uncharted 4](tag:2684002): A Thief's End which, big surprise, has gotten phenomenal reviews and is being seen as an early game of the year contender. I finished my first play-through of the game last night and it was indeed incredible for all the reasons you'd expect it to be. Since a couple of hours have passed and I've had time to reflect on my experience, I thought it'd be fun to do a piece on what, in my opinion, were the 5 best moments in the game. This should go without saying, but...
This game is truly phenomenal and picking just 5 moments was really hard, so here are some honorable mentions, in no particular order:
- Nathan Drake reminiscing old times in his attic
- Elena scaring Nate by playing dead
- The flashback sequences that establish Nathan and Sam's relationship
- Walking through the Madagascar market and being able to interact with the locals
- The climatic sword fight with Rafe
5. Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot was literally the first video game I ever played. My Dad got me a PlayStation One when I was six years old and that was the game it came with. It is the foundation of my love for gaming and the PlayStation, and I have many fond memories of it. It has been more than a decade since I played it. However, that changed once I hit Chapter 4 in Uncharted 4.
The chapter chronicles a day in Nathan and Elena's now-normal life. They eat noodles, make small talk about their day and then play video games to decide who'll do the dishes. Not only is it an incredibly genuine and powerful moment in terms of showing the current status-quo of their story, it's an incredibly fun and nostalgic moment as well because you get to play as Nathan Drake playing Crash Bandicoot. You play a game within a game! Not only is Naughty Dog involving you in the journey of these two characters who you first met in 2007, it's taking you back to your own early days of gaming and letting you relive them for a brief period.
4. Sam's Lies
After three games worth of being shot at, blown up, punched, shoved, tricked and cheated, Nathan Drake has retired. He's left his old treasure hunting days behind and leads a regular life. That changes when Sam - his brother, who was thought to be dead for the last 15 years enters the picture. With his brother's life in peril and finding a long lost pirate treasure the only way to save him, Nathan is drawn back in to the very world he'd worked so hard to stay away from. Although this time, the only motivation is to save his brother's life.
Of course, things are never that simple and at the end of the second act, it's revealed that Sam lied and his life was never in danger to begin with. He lied to Nathan because he knew it was the only way to get him to come, and it was important to him that Nathan came because this is a treasure they were always meant to find together, as brothers. What made this twist so refreshing was not only how unpredictable it was (for me, at least) but also for its unique nature. When it was revealed that Sam lied, I expected something along the lines of - 'he's been working with the bad guys all along and was simply using Nathan to get closer to the treasure'. However, the game avoided that. Sam lied to his brother to get him to come on a treasure hunt with him, plain and simple - a treasure hunt that they dreamed of finishing together since they were kids. Sam's motivation was what made this twist unique and refreshing and one of the best moments in the game.
3. The Silent Auction Theft
Everything about this set piece was stunning. It starts of with some climbing and exploration that offers gorgeous views and proceeds to morph into a full-on heist sequence that has the flair and intensity of something right out of a Mission Impossible film. Victor Sullivan is introduced back into the mix and we also meet the main antagonists, Rafe and Nadine.
Our heroes must steal a crucial artefact that contains the next clue and they do this by working together as a team. As Nathan, you cut the power, while Sam disguises himself as a waiter to get close to the artefact and Sully keeps an eye out for any threats. It all climaxes with a terrifically choreographed action sequence that includes getting beaten up and thrown out a window by Nadine and eventually escaping in a limo. The writing stays great throughout with lots of humor. The pacing is terrific and action intense. Lastly, stakes are high and the whole thing looks and plays phenomenally!
2. The Chase Through Madagascar
Uncharted games are known for their action set pieces which are no less than what you'd expect of a big budget summer blockbuster. Whether it's the train sequence from Uncharted 2 or the plane and boat sequences from Uncharted 3, the games have always succeeded in giving you that adrenaline rush. Uncharted 4 dials it down in that regard, with nothing as crazy as what has come before, but yet offers up one of the slickest, roughest, and most energetic action sequences yet.
At around the halfway point through the game, you're tasked with shaking off enemies who are hot on your tail, whilst simultaneously catching up to Sam, who's in need of help. There's driving, grappling, fighting, being dragged in the mud, jumping from one exploding vehicle to another, road rage, and eventually escaping on a bike. It was by far among the most thrilling and exciting sequences in the game and leaves you breathless by the end of it.
Naughty Dog did say that the ending would be divisive, and from what I've read and heard, that is indeed how it has been received. I, for one, absolutely loved it. The Epilogue starts of with you getting a chance to play Crash Bandicoot again, only this time you're playing as Cassie - Nathan and Elena's daughter. As her parents are away, you go around their house discovering what's become of their life, how they've progressed and how their relationships with Sully and Sam are.
The game ends with Nathan and Elena catching you snooping around where you shouldn't be, and deciding that it's time for them to finally reveal to you the stories of their youth and their adventures. The way the sequence is written, the way the house is detailed, the way the background music offers up a subtle twist on the franchise's iconic tune - it all blends together beautifully to form a fulfilling and heartwarming conclusion to the stories of these characters. There's only two times in my life that I've felt the way that I did during this epilogue - and that's when I read the epilogue of Harry Potter and when I watched the the last episode of FRIENDS.
And that's a wrap! Have you guys beaten the game yet? What did you think - which was your favorite moment? Something you loved that I missed - sound off in the comments below!