Uncharted 4: A fitting end and a thrilling time

Uncharted 4's Nathan Drake is the coolest explorer of our time.
You can still call him on his cellphone: Welcome back, Nathan Drake.

Uncharted 4 is the greatest Tarantino film I have ever played.

I don’t mean it by the way it looks, but definitely by the way it feels. Nathan Drake, treasure hunter extraordinaire, risks his extraordinary (and quite ordinary) life to drink once more from the cup of recklessness. He is halfway between Indiana Jones and Han Solo as an adventurer, and he is never more than a misplaced footstep or ill-timed quip away from an absurd and tragic end.

Just like in the Tarantino films.

The heart and soul: Nathan Drake is the star, but it's Elena who helps this universe make sense.

The heart and soul: Nathan Drake is the star of Uncharted 4, but it’s Elena who keeps this magnificent story accessible to everyone.

Uncharted 4 is the closest thing to a human experience that a game has delivered yet. Naughty Dog’s golden child, The Last of Us, touched the nerves in an altogether fantastic way with every sense cranked up to an uncomfortable 10. In this, the studio’s next project, the human experience is shared amongst the core cast, and it’s beautifully anchored in Elena, whose anxieties and excitements we feel in every scene she commands. We feel it in Nathan too, as he shrugs and winks and laughs his way into deeper trouble and greater danger. He seeks trouble like a magnet seeks metal filings, and it comes to him in spades.

We’re left to cope with that trouble and turn it into thrills, and taking danger head-on has never been so much fun. In a game about discoveries, there are discoveries that will crash into your experience and make you cheer, or cry, or cause you to gape at the screen until you can get it together enough to replay the scene. Never before has a studio reached so deeply into the heart of its audience, found exactly what makes that heart beat, and then put it to work in a way that works so well as this. You won’t be spoiled here, but you’ll know what I mean when you get there.

Uncharted 4, mechanically, isn’t at the same level as a Tomb Raider or a Far Cry, but neither are those two as good at drawing you into the story. It fails to be a mechanical masterpiece, with the action being slightly too viscous when great gameplay demands fluidity, but it succeeds as a masterpiece of storytelling. It looks better than live-action, as if the entire world were being continually rendered though the HDR mode on your phone or camera. Everything pops – the colours, the faces, the clothing. I’ve never been so happy to see a crumpled tuxedo.

I’d watch this as a film. Right now. I’d do it. No Hollywood interference, just disable the controller and let it go.

You don’t really own a PlayStation 4 if you don’t own Uncharted 4. They were made for each other.

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