By Kyle HolmerThis is LOAD FILE, where we can accomplish almost anything with a shotgun, a length of rope, and two impossibly strong hands. This week Kyle goes globetrotting in ‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’, developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the Playstation 4.

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I’m just going to say this right up front and save those sitting on the fence some time: Uncharted 4 is a masterpiece of a video game and you should be begging the cashiers at GameStop to take the stupid money from your pockets.

If you are at all familiar with this series, you know exactly what this game is. The Uncharted series is the video game equivalent of a summer action movie — or, to be more specific, it’s a slightly more adult and violent version of Indiana Jones. The series has always received universal acclaim, but Uncharted 4 specifically has elevated the franchise to its highest point; it is the most ambitious “blockbuster” video game we’ve seen yet, with some of the most polished mechanics and authentic narrative you’re likely to see anywhere else in this medium.

All of the “growing up” Naughty Dog did with The Last of Us has been perfectly injected into the Uncharted formula. What’s been born of that combination is the absolute perfect version of an Uncharted game: it is not only the best entry in the series, I personally cannot imagine a better version of an Uncharted game. This is flat-out the best iteration of series’ story and systems. That’s not to say this is a perfect game — there are unquestionably some faults (although very few) — but this is Uncharted at its most refined. This is one of the most talented developers on the planet releasing their grandest game to date. So strap in.

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THE BROTHERS DRAKE

The story follows Nathan Drake on another impossible quest to find another lost city buried out in the world somewhere. Similar to Uncharted 3, the story moves back in time, carving out a bit of Nate’s early life to allow for the introduction of new some new themes and characters, only in this instance it’s his long, lost (and presumed to be dead) brother, Sam. The story opens with a brief introduction on the early life of Sam and Nathan Drake, as well as some basic introduction of what will end up being the main throughline. The difference with this latest incarnation of Uncharted (and an improvement) is that, at the outset, Nathan has left his old life behind, trading it in for a quiet construction job and a docile marriage to his former compatriot, Elena Fisher.

When it’s eventually revealed that Sam isn’t dead, he returns to his younger brother Nate to coax him into one “final job” (and as such, the completion of the mystery they uncovered as children). Unlike the past entries, Uncharted 4 spends a significant amount of time exploring Nathan’s new life and the troubles that arise from helping his brother out. Nathan and Elena made a solemn vow to leave the destructive globetrotting and treasure hunting behind and the story spends much of its time dealing with the consequences of his decisions on his family and friends. While at times, the story can be completely overblown and ridiculous, Uncharted 4 sees this series as its most reigned in and more importantly, its most human.  The acting is legitimately superb and, coupled with the unbelievable graphics, there’s some genuinely emotional moments in this game. The story is fantastic throughout.

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THIS MAN CAN LITERALLY DO EVERYTHING 

Uncharted 4 plays almost identically to its predecessors (or at least as far as the moment-to-moment gameplay is concerned); this is a straightforward third person action game with some extended wall climbing/platforming thrown in for good measure. There are three new additions however that are a welcome addition. The new grappling hook and “spike” (not sure the proper name as it’s been used as a murder weapon until Nathan got his hands on it) add some welcome new mechanics to the traversal. There’s also some vehicles that Nate will have access to for a few chapters and when introduced, are usually accompanied by an enormous map (of which Nathan can freely explore by exiting said vehicles) or some incredibly exciting set pieces.

Beyond the new additions, the game plays exactly as it has in years past except with an extra coat of polish not seen before in the series. The gunplay is tighter than ever (and can become unbelievably tense when combined with the grappling hook) and the wall climbing has been completely overhauled to allow for some incredibly fluid traversal. Coupling all of the already strong mechanics with the awesome set piece moments the series is known for (which we’re given more control of now more than ever) leads to some of the best moments in gaming I’ve seen in years. I spent the majority of my time with this game either smiling like an idiot or with my mouth completely agap at just how extraordinary this game is.

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HERE’S A SNAPSHOT OF THE COOLEST GAMING MOMENT OF THE YEAR

If it’s not obvious at this point, I’ll just say it outright; I adored this game. I understand that some people don’t have any patience for this particular breed of “blockbuster” (or they just hate popular things), but I truly believe that just about anyone who spends some time with this game will end up adoring it. From start to finish, this game is consistently strong (excluding a few frustrating gunfights or protracted action free moments). Quite bluntly, you’d be a fool not to buy it immediately.

Developed by Naughty Dog.

Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Directed by Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann.

Platform: PlayStation 4.

10 out of 10

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