Want to win a copy of Uncharted 4? Of course you do …

Hopefully,  you’ve read my review by now of Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End, the latest adventure for Nathan Drake.

PS4_UC4_3D_Inlay_R13In the review I said that Naughty Dog had saved the best Uncharted till last – and I stand by that. I loved the game from start to finish and now, thanks to the kind folks at PlayStation NZ, you have the chance to win a copy of Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End and an Uncharted cap.

Entering the competition is simple. All you have to do is tell me what is your favourite moment from an Uncharted game. It could be the opening moments of Uncharted 2 or it could just be some of the amazing locations the game has visited: It’s up to you. To enter, you have to either write a comment on this blog or visit the Gamejunkie 2.0 Facebook page and post a comment there (feel free to like the page as well!)

Like any competition, of course, there are some T&Cs:

  • The competition is only open to people in New Zealand with a New Zealand residential address.
  • The competition runs from 8pm, Tuesday, May 10 until 8pm, Sunday, May 15.
  • You must be aged over 13 to enter the competition.
  • To enter,  you can either post a comment on this blog on your favourite moment from the Uncharted series or on the Gamejunkie NZ Facebook page. One entry per person, please.
  • The prize (1 x Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End game, 1 x Uncharted 4 cap) will be drawn after 8pm, May 15 and the winner notified by email or direct message. The game is PlayStation 4 exclusive so you’ll also need a PS4 to play it on (you’ll have to supply that yourself).
  • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Cap UC4So, what are you waiting for? Get your entry in!

 

 

 

Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End: Saving the best till last

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has been responsible for me losing sleep.
It turned out it was one of those “A few more minutes then I’ll go to bed” games. Most gamers would have been there. All gamers will know a game like that.
city_09I finished Uncharted 4’s narrative campaign in 16 hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds on moderate difficulty (I’ve heard things are fairly tough in the hard and above difficulties) and loved it. According to the in-game stats, I spent 2 hours 14 minutes and 34 seconds of that standing still, I climbed 5652 metres, collected 25 of 109 treasures and defeated 583 enemies. I plan to play through it again (I haven’t gone near the multiplayer yet. If I do, I’ll do it when the servers go public but Uncharted has always been about the campaign for me).

During two late night sessions when I played until 2am in the morning (one of them Monday night) I remember looking at my watch at 11.30pm – I was the only one up: My family had long gone to bed – and saying to myself “OK, a few more minutes and I’m off to bed”. The next time I looked at my watch it was 2.10am – and I had to be up at 7am to get ready for work.

ope_01I can’t remember a game that has hooked me so much as Uncharted 4. It’s good. It’s very, very good.
Set three years after the events of Uncharted 3, Nathan Drake, the intrepid adventurer from the previous three Uncharted games, has apparently left the world of fortune hunting behind him but when his older brother Sam turns up, he’s convinced to head off on a quest to find the treasure of fabled and feared pirate Henry Avery.
What follows is a roller coaster ride of adventuring globe-trotting that is, to me, the best of the series.  Naughty Dog have definitely saved the best to last. Uncharted 4 might not have the big set pieces like Uncharted 3 did or the unforgettable opening of Uncharted 2 but it’s all the better for it.

dive_01Visually, the game is stunning – I think that will come as no surprise – with locations including lush verdant valleys, abandoned towns, underground tombs and the depths of the deep blue sea, but for me, the Uncharted games and Naughty Dog have always been about the narrative, about the relationships between characters. There is a reason that ND’s other stellar game The Last of Us is so good: The relationship between its two lead characters – and it’s the same with Uncharted 4. The relationships are front and centre.

The main thing that really hit home for me with Uncharted 4 is that it’s about the relationships between Drake and those he loves, especially the relationships he has with Elena Fisher (who he is now married to), and his brother Sam, who Drake thought was dead. Sure, Uncharted 4 has gunplay  and climbing and bad guys and treasure but it’s all about the characters. This may sound really weird, because we’re talking about digital actors here,  but at times I almost believed they were human: They looked and behaved so realistically.

home_01Case in point: During one late game cinematic, I watched Elena who was standing in the background as Drake spoke and her mannerisms and body language felt like I was watching an actor and not a collection of pixels rendered on a TV screen.

I felt more connected to Drake and Elena more than I had in previous games and they look older too: We’ve been through a lot together and I put that connection down to ND’s Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, who both skipped Uncharted 3 to work on The Last of Us. It shows: This is probably the best narrative I’ve seen in an Uncharted game – or perhaps any game in recent memory – and I felt invested in the characters. Not many games do that to me.

The game’s environments are more open, too, allowing you to reach an objective using a variety of paths, and combat feels more weighty than in previous Uncharted games and while at times the odds seem stacked against Drake, using the environment to your advantage works beautifully here.

You can now use a grappling hook to help take enemies down as well as swinging across gapping chasms and, yes, ledges and handholds still crumble when Nate is climbing a precarious cliff face or building but I never grew tired of it.

city_06I liked that I could tackle the combat situations all guns blazing, if you want, but that will attract the attention of every enemy in the vicinity, of  course, or you can creep through long grass (yes, creeping through long grass is now a feature), taking out as many enemies as you can quietly. I tried to handle as many situations as I could this way: Take out a handful of enemies quietly by pulling them off ledges or from the vantage of vegetation then using the grappling hook to swing across a gap, punching down an enemy from above. It’s so satisfying, believe me.

Uncharted 4 is also a game full of little details that help you feel that the game world is a living, breathing place and the characters have conversations amongst themselves while Nate is off climbing a ruined building. It’s those little things that give the game more grounding in reality and makes the characters more believable, more real. Driving through Madagascar,  I knocked over several rock piles, prompting Sam to say:  “You do realise that someone probably took hours putting those rocks there?”
The puzzles are back, and they’re not too taxing if you pay attention to sequences and clues you’ve picked up and I could go on for hours about Uncharted 4 but I’m going to stop.  You’ve realised by now that I loved Uncharted 4 and it’s the best  of the series because its characterisation is front and centre.
If I had any niggles it would that I felt there were perhaps too many “Oh, can you find something to help get me up to that out-of-reach ledge” moments. Generally that something involved a large crate on wheels.
Uncharted 4 is a triumph of narrative and proves Naughty Dog are masters at creating characters you can believe in. It is a fitting farewell.
Thanks to PlayStation NZ which provided me with a review copy of Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End. 

Xbox and PlayStation bring the games to E3 2015

Firstly, I guess I’m sitting at two for three when it comes to pre-E3 predictions then, given that my three most anticipated games for E3 2015  were Mass Effect 4, a new Hitman game and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

OK, the Mass Effect reveal didn’t show game play footage but hey, EA has still announced it, as has SquareEnix with the latest game in the Hitman series featuring old baldy, Agent 47. All I need now if for SquareEnix to showcase the new Deus Ex game and I’ll be a happy man.

I was thinking earlier today about how I was going to cover today’s press events from Xbox and Sony: Would I write it up, game by game, announcement by announcement, giving my opinion on everything? Or would I just let the trailers speak for themselves?

I’ve decided that I’ll let the visuals speak for themselves. I’m not going to do these “Xbox/Sony Won E3” write-ups that inevitably appear after E3’s pre-show events.Frankly, they’re pointless (and I probably did them in the past).

Do you want to know who won? Gamers won, that’s who. Let’s stop this “X won E3!”bullshit. There was plenty there for Xbox gamers, plenty there for PlayStation gamers. Gamers won.

Tomorrow, I believe there is a dedicated PC gaming event so I’ll watch that as I’m sooooo close to plonking down close to $NZ600 on a new nVidia Geforce GTXC970 GPU so I want to see what I can do with it.

I got up at 4.15am to watch the Xbox press event and it had games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Halo 5 Guardians, a compilation of 30 games from British developer Rare, backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games (I’m guessing it’s some form of emulation where you’ll have to download a digital version of the game, even if you own a disc copy), a rather impressive game from New Zealand development studio Aurora 44 (where are they based? Call me! Lets talk!) called Ashen (which had a real Shadow of the Colossus/Journey feel to it), a game from another Keewee Dean “Rocket” Hall called Ion, a rather impressive demo of Hololens and Minecraft (although, I’m sceptical about Hololens until it’s actually at retail and we can see it in real-world conditions) and a re-mastered version of the original Gears of War, as well as Gears of War 4.

It was a solid showing. I’ve got trailers for some of them below.

Gears of War 4: 

Halo 5 Guardians: 

Ashen: 

Ion: 

Sony

From what I’ve heard about Sony’s press event, it seemed to be full of fan service (I didn’t watch it. I was working) and no doubt wooed the crowd by finally showing The Last Guardian, a game that seems to have been written off as vaporware after around eight years in development.

Among the games Sony announced were: a remake Final Fantasy 7 and that Shenmue 3 was in the works, a new game (not a FPS) from Killzone developer Guerilla Games called Horizon: Zero Dawn, No Mans Sky (which looks fantastic but, if I’m being honest, I still have no idea what you do apart from fly around and discover other planets), a new Hitman game, a game that looks genuinely interesting called Firewatch, Dreams from Little Big Planet developer Media Molecule,  and, not surprisingly, an extended look at Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

The Last Guardian: 

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: 

Dreams: 

No Man’s Sky: 

Firewatch: 

Hitman: 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you liked from Sony & Microsoft.