This game’s already been reviewed on this site, so I’ll get right to it: I don’t think this is the greatest game ever made, like some have said. I don’t even think it’s the greatest game in the series. I mean, the graphics were incredible, the voice performances were top-notch as always, and the new grappling hook was pretty sweet. But what cripples this game in my mind, and what I’m making the subject of this editorial, is pacing. Uncharted 4 is slow.
See, what I loved about the old Uncharted games was how balanced they were between gameplay and cut-scenes. They were classic adventure films come to life, with all the action, the mystery, the romance, and the badassery of Indiana Jones. They were long enough to feel epic, but the scenes and setpieces were so snappy and well put together that nothing outstayed its welcome.
Uncharted 4 was also balanced in a fashion, but this case both sides of the scale too heavy. Everything was pretty good, but everything just seemed to drag. Over and over again I was having thoughts like ‘Ok, this climbing tutorial could have been 10 minutes shorter’, or ‘Man, they are getting a lot of stuff off their chests in this cutscene, but I wish they would pick up the pace’, or ‘I am getting so sick of this lousy pirate cave! Where does it end!? I was constantly checking my imaginary wristwatch to see how long the game was making me climb the same set of granite rock walls.
I understand why Naughty Dog did it this way: they were trying to make a more thoughtful and introspective story this time, a tragic tale of relationships ruined by greed. There was a lot of influences from The Last of Us in Uncharted 4: from small things like the killshot reticle to big obvious ones like the overall melancholy tone and the open-ended explorable environments. There were optional conversations like The Last of Us, tons of notes next to dead guys like The Last of Us, even *SPOILERS*
a story about two middle-aged brothers meet again after many years apart where one convinces the other to help on a crazy quest. *SPOILERS END* Makes sense to me: if you’re going to go for a more serious and emotional story, why not ape a few things from one of your other games that was famous for it?
But that doesn’t work.
The Last of Us was a slow, deliberate, nerve-wracking game. It’s pacing was designed to work around gameplay that consisted of slowly sneaking around, slowly ransacking dead people’s homes for loot, and slowly building up a relationship with a young girl you’re charged with protecting. The game rewarded you for taking your time. Its gameplay and storytelling worked together in near-perfect harmony. Immersion, successful. Game, masterpiece.
The Uncharted series, on the other hand, is a series where you fight helicopters across cities while shooting hundreds of armed goons in face, quipping the whole time. You hang for dear life out of cargo planes, you escape ancient deathtraps and crumbling ruins in the nick of time, and you cheat death and defy the odds time and time again because you are the legendary Nathan Drake, adventurer, daredevil, and treasure hunter extraordinaire.
Then Naughty Dog took a grand adventure and turned it into a death march.
The lugubrious pace hamstrings this game, and the more I think about it the madder I get. Uncharted is my favorite game series of all time. This was supposed to be its last hurrah. I had such high hopes for it. And now they’ve betrayed my expectations in the very worst way possible: they made me bored. They left me feeling empty and infuriated. If I wanted to play an island-survival murder-simulator with no soul, I would have suffered though Tomb Raider again. Disgraceful.
Still pretty good though, would play it again. 4th best in the series. Discuss. ↓↓↓