If this turns out to be Nathan Drake's last hurrah, then the guy's going out on top.
Yes, things are finally going well for the luckiest (and unluckiest) adventurer in the history of the world. Every ledge he grabs breaks, every bridge he crosses collapses and every car he drives winds up exploding -- but inevitably, Nathan manages to crawl his way back up to the surface, defy gravity and look damn good in the process.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is the PlayStation 4 exclusive you've probably been waiting for -- one of the reasons you plunked down a couple a hundred bucks on the console in the first place.
With blockbuster exclusives being what they are of late -- and by that I mean a scarce commodity -- it's natural to hold hopes high. So if you're the least bit concerned that Uncharted 4 is somehow destined to disappoint, rest assured. It does not.
Sure, there's a few things to roll your eyes at. But just know this: Uncharted 4 is a spectacle of epic proportions. It suffers from adrenaline fatigue. Meaning, you will probably -- no, definitely -- reach a point in this game where you refuse to believe there's more to it. But it just keeps going.
That's only about half the story in Uncharted 4. For as much as the game turns all its dials up to 11, there's also more downtime than I can recall in the games prior. You'll spend a generous portion climbing around, looking for the next ledge and figuring out the game's handful of puzzles. At times the excessive climbing does start growing redundant and there are a few too many puzzle cliches.
It's not all guns-blazing in Uncharted 4. Far from it. Hours at a time go by without a single shot being fired. And for me, that felt great. I've always had morality issues when it comes to these games. They're undeniably fun to play, but something in me can't quite put it out of my head that I'm globetrotting around the world in search of ancient treasure all while leaving a path of murder and destruction in my wake.
There's no skirting around it. You shoot a lot of people in Uncharted games. And the buddy-action vibe of the series just kind of makes it all OK. I think there's some recognition of that in Uncharted 4, if only how noticeably infrequent those kind of engagements seem to be.
That's not to say Uncharted 4 is without any memorable gunfights. I enjoyed the vast majority of them, because when they do show up, they are some of the best the series has had to offer. They take place in spectacular fashion -- along rooftops, off cliffs and speeding through flatlands. Shooting feels really good, as if it's been even further refined. It's the most satisfying it's ever been in an Uncharted game.
Enemy AI is also really sharp in A Thief's End. Thankfully, Drake has a number of new abilities that open up the door for stealthier approaches.
Nathan can now tag enemies from afar and can see their awareness levels through visual cues above their heads. It's possible to make your way through some areas without shooting anyone, though you'll likely have that plan foiled more often than not.
I played through the campaign on normal difficulty but was significantly challenged throughout. I got the exact amount of frustration I could handle, if that makes any sense.