There’s a moment about three-quarters of the way through V when following a particularly gruelling shootout Nathan Drake and his long-suffering better half Elena stop to engage in some mild bickering about what has come before. Eventually, they sign an uneasy peace and get in the car to drive off elsewhere. What follows is 30 seconds to a minute of Naughty Dog at their best. The music rises and as the beautiful landscape flies past you can sit back and appreciate what they’ve created. It’s the giraffe in The Last Of Us all over again.
In their fourth (and apparently final) venture with Nathan Drake, Naughty Dog went all out to deliver a bells and whistles experience. Whether it’s epic car chases (which lost a bit of its charm seeing as we’d all seen it a million times) or falling buildings, it is a game built on spectacle. And yet, it’s not the glossy destruction that makes it worth your time. It’s the small moments (by which I don’t mean Nathan Drake stumbling into a wall) which capture Uncharted at it’s best.
For it’s those moments that make the players who have now gone on four of these adventures with Drake sit back and smile. The little in-jokes he throws in when he is bickering with his brother or the treasures you find in his house. It all culminates in the last ten minutes of the game when Uncharted throws bombast entirely out the window and gives Drake the ending he deserves. I won’t spoil it here in case there are people even slower at catching up with games than me, but it seems to be Naughty Dogs goodbye to the character and it’s beautifully done.
Because when you get right down to it Uncharted 4 still has all the same problems. The gunplay has been tightened, but they still feel the need to throw enemies at you wearing helmets which can miraculously deflect an RPG. The story meanwhile is average at best. Yet, I at least, don’t play Uncharted for any of these reasons. I play it for Nate, Sully, Elena and co and by the time the final credits roll, Uncharted 4 has been the perfect way to say goodbye to them.