A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a third-person action game. Players take on the role of a thrill-seeking treasure hunter in search of a lost pirate city who kills hundreds of soldiers working for a competing treasure hunter. Combat involves a broad array of guns, stealth choking, and intense melee combat that often leaves fighters bloodied and bruised. Nathan Drake is likable, a reliable brother, and a good friend, but he's also an admitted thief who shows little remorse for most of the enemies he kills and endangers his marriage by lying to his wife. Players will also see characters drinking, smoking, and occasionally using mild profanity.
What's it about?
Potentially the final chapter in Naughty Dog's popular action-adventure series, UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF'S END finds treasure hunter Nathan Drake a bit older and settled into the life of a working husband. But when his long-lost brother turns up in desperate need of help, Nathan is drawn back into his old life exploring ruins and seeking fortune -- and feels compelled to lie to his wife, Elena, about it. The adventure that follows sees Nathan spelunking Scottish caves and exploring the wilds of Madagascar. He gets to make ample use of his famous climbing and traversal skills, which for the first time include a grappling ability that lets him climb and lower himself, swing over perilous gaps, and run along walls. He also gets into plenty of firefights with enemies, though this time there's a greater emphasis on stealth, with Nathan taking advantage of tall grass to hide before striking silently. As usual, there also are plenty of treasures and notebook entries for players to find and optional conversations Nathan can have with his traveling companions. Multiplayer, meanwhile, provides a quartet of traditional competitive team-based modes spread over eight maps designed to encourage Nathan's climbing and grappling skills.
Is it any good?
Few games tell a story as compelling as this adventure, which truly sums up the franchise well. A combination of exceptional graphics -- including immersive performance capture -- a smart and compelling script, and some terrific performances from an all-star cast of video game voice actors help to emotionally engage players in a manner akin to a great movie. Nathan and his brother have terrific chemistry, and scenes shared between him and his wife feel intimate and authentic. The frequently funny offhand chats, which all the main characters engage in while climbing, driving, and exploring, help make it feel like you're right there with them, a part of the experience. It's about as close as a game gets to feeling like an interactive Hollywood blockbuster.
And the action is a blast, too. Exploration and traversal are a joy, thanks to tight controls and brilliant level design. Several chapters are set in something close to an open world that begs us to investigate every nook and cranny, partly because we want to discover any treasures and secrets they contain and also just because grappling, climbing, and leaping our way there is so much fun. If Uncharted 4 has a weak spot, it's combat. But it's not weak so much as it is merely average -- competent and polished but not particularly original. And most firefights come in quick bursts, leaving us to spend the bulk of our time on all the other parts of the game -- story and exploration -- that are truly amazing and verging on unparalleled. This is one adventure PlayStation 4 owners won't want to miss.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in the media. This game has characters who seem charming and relatable but who also kill their enemies with little remorse. Do you think games would be more believable and/or enjoyable if they were designed so players avoided enemies rather killed them?
Talk about respecting the people we love, including siblings, friends, and spouses. What does lying do to these relationships? How can trust be rebuilt once it's broken?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: May 10, 2016
- Genre: Third-person shooter
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, History, Pirates
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.