A look back on Uncharted A Thief’s End: Part 1
“I am a man of Fortune, and I must seek my Fortune.”
Hello everyone and welcome back to the journey we are taking through the Uncharted series. This time around I will be doing a Thief’s End in two parts. The reason I have chosen to do it this way is that there is a lot of ground to cover and I have a lot to talk about. The title to this game pretty much tells you what it is going to be about, it is the climax to Nathan Drake. We all know Nathan Drake as a treasure hunter/ thief and well, this is his end. When I first saw the title to this game I was a bit worried, because I thought that Nathan Drake was going to die. I am so happy that Naughty Dog decided not to do that, instead they ended it in a way that you are free to use your imagination as in to how the characters live the rest of their lives. For those of you who are interested only in the gameplay may not like part 1 that much and may want to wait for part 2. This part of a Thief’s End I am only going to be talking about the main characters, some of my favorite chapters and I may mention a few other things.
For starters the story was great. In this adventure Drake and his friends embark on a journey to find the long-lost treasure of Henry Avery. The story goes that Henry Avery and the other Pirates stole this treasure from different places he traveled to. With all his money he promised the riches of Paradise to any who would want to join him in his quest for liberty. Together Henry Avery and his Pirates built Libertalia, they drafted their own Constitution, laws, and way of life. Anyone was free to leave the British Crown and go to Libertalia to start a new way of life. Henry Avery and his Pirates had other plans: to steal all the treasure and go to New Devon, but from the start, Henry Avery wanted the treasure all to himself, and so the story ends with all the Pirates killing each other. Lastly, Henry Avery and Thomas Tew kill each other on his ship where the treasure remained hidden for 200 plus years. Henry Avery and Thomas Tew also established an initiation process for any would wanted to join his crew. They had to get through various puzzles and trials to prove themselves worthy, and if they survived, they would get the following clue to where they needed to go next. Henry Avery was psychotic, starting with his misinterpretation of the Bible verses and the meaning of Paradise and of course murdering anyone who he thought was going to betray him. The treasure drove him crazy, and anyone from then on who sought to seek that treasure ended up going crazy as well, this is what also happened to Jonathan Burnes and his crew.
In Drakes Deception Naughty Dog started to begin to dig deeper into Nathan Drake. For any who read my previous blog on Drakes Deception noticed that it was getting to be more emotional. A Thief’s End gets even more emotional both with Drake personally, with his marriage with Elena, and his father figure Victor Sullivan. The choices that Drake makes in this game affect everyone around him and the developers of the story did a great job making the player feel the emotion and drama. We begin to learn a lot more about Drake, especially his past. I love playing the beginning of this game with the opening taking place at Drakes orphanage. Just playing this chapter alone one can see the difference in platforming from the PS3 console to the PS4 console. The body mechanics, jumping, grappling, sliding down roof tops, using a rope to swing and climb with and later in the game using the rope to pull boxes to climbing up ledges and walls, is absolutely beautiful. It was a great introduction chapter because we get to learn something entirely new about Drake that was never mentioned before in the Uncharted series. Nathan Drake has a brother. This was a great twist and addition to what we know about Nathan Drake.
I really enjoyed the fact that Drake and Elena are married in this game. I love all the memories in his attic of all the places that you’ve been too in the chapter titled, A Normal Life. This is important for the emotional part of the game, because when I first played this game I probably spent a good 30 min looking at everything and remembering the other games. On top of that I remembered my friend Joann too, and remembering all the times playing the other Uncharted games with her. Especially important for the character development is that we learn that Drake and Elena have made a promise to each other to not get involved in any more illegal treasure hunts. This also explains why Drake hasn’t been involved with or has seen Sully in a few years. Drake eventually learned his lesson about his stubbornness in his treasure hunts and didn’t want to risk losing Elena again. We have been traveling through the world of Uncharted with Drake and Elena for so long that to finally see them married in their own house is a breath of fresh air. For the first few chapters we learn that Nathan has gone legit and is working for a company that finds and recovers things that other people may have lost. The temptations never seem to leave Drake alone though, because his coworker Jameson tempts him with a “job” to find a lost ship, but of course Jameson doesn’t have the permits.
The father figure of Victor Sullivan really comes out in a Thief’s End. Victor Sullivan again has always been a key character to the shaping of Nathan Drake. In a Thief’s End we see Victor start to take a more protective role towards Drake. Victor knows that Sam is up to something and lying to Drake because he confronts him about it. Through the game the relationship between Sully and Drake is one where they both know that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. Victor knows that this isn’t good for Drake and that Drake is lying to Elena, he even confronts him about that too. Sully’s character I would say is one of caution in this game. In fact, when Elena finally catches them in Madagascar with tears in her eyes she looks at Victor and all he can say is “I’m sorry”, no excuses or justifications just, “I know, I blew it.” Nathan, Elena, and Sully are like family, so the emotions are a lot stronger in this game. Nevertheless, Sully has always been a great character, and it was good to see in the Epilogue that they were still in contact with him. Sully and Nate both have the attitude that they just want to get this treasure hunt over with. They are no longer in it just for the kicks and thrill.
Enter Sam Drake, the long-lost brother of Nathan Drake. From what I have heard to my surprise is that not a whole lot of people liked his character. Learning about their childhood together really gave Nathan a lot more depth. Nathan Drake had always thought his brother was dead, so he never even thought about bringing him up to Elena. Also, we learned that Sam and Nathan were very educated guys, and too smart for their own good. They were both history experts, having learned as much as possible from their mom before she died. It was also intriguing to learn that they had originally change their last names to Drake, because like their mom, they believed they were descendants of Sir Francis Drake himself. Sam Drake was a typical older brother, but how? He was manipulative. There were a lot of characteristics in Sam Drake that I saw in my older brother. How Sam lied to Nathan to get him involved in something Nate never would have done. How is it that they do that? And when Nate tried to stay true to his promise to Elena that he didn’t live that life anymore, Sam gave him a guilt trip that was based on a lie anyway. It was a good twist because on my first play through I thought the whole story of his prison escape with Hector Alcazar was true. I mean Naughty Dog went so far as in to dedicate a chapter to Sam’s story to help convince the player of its validity.
Prior to the other Uncharted games, Nathan and Sam had previously began to pick up the trail to find Henry Avery’s lost treasure with their friend/business partner Rafe Adler. So, A Thief’s End is a continuation of this treasure hunt as it was just put on hold because Nate thought his brother died at the prison they escaped from. Rafe became too crazy for Drake that he went his separate way. Rafe was a great character and villain, I personally think I liked him better than Sam Drake character wise. What made Rafe a great villain was his envy and jealousy for Nathan Drake which we learn about on the last chapter. It seems that most of the villains in the Uncharted games are jealous of Drake and use his intellect to try to accomplish their treasure hunts while taking credit for it.
The Shoreline mercenary group headed up by Nadine Ross was a great addition. Nadine Ross was a great character, and I think that a lot of people liked her. Though in the Lost Legacy, people felt that her character changed a little. In A Thief’s End Nadine Ross was someone that even Rafe was afraid to cross; she was military trained, martial arts trained, and didn’t play games. I loved my first encounter with her at the Auction. When I first played it, I thought it was lame that you couldn’t beat her no matter how hard you tried. That scene was specifically designed for the player to lose the fight, so we could see how dangerous this chick was. I mean as Drake we are so used to beating everyone up it doesn’t matter who they are, but not Nadine, we couldn’t even get one hit in. I really enjoyed how each time she would get Drake pinned to the floor or bookcase you had the option of how you wanted to respond when she would ask you a question, that really helped with staying in the character. Then of course topping it off with getting kicked out of the window, after that happened I was like I hope I never meet her again. I also really enjoyed the second encounter with her when she took on Sam and Drake in the Thieves of Libertalia. I was pumped for this fight (LOL), but no matter what she still kicked our butts. I don’t know but I get the feeling Nadine really loves kicking people out of windows. I loved climbing up the building after she kicks Drake out of the window again and then he just bombs drop’s on her. It was great, Nate jumps off the edge yelling “Nadiiiinnne!” and then slams onto her and you both go through the floor.
There is one thing that is really noteworthy in all the Uncharted games and that is Drakes journal. For me as a player Drakes journal really drew me into the character and story. It is pretty awesome to see how much Naughty Dog has improved Drakes journal throughout the Uncharted series. A Thief’s End was top notch for me because as you work your way through the game you end up following a side story about Jonathan Burns. Also adding Drake’s drawings of where he finds clues, journal notes and journal entries just made everything really come to life. I really enjoyed the side story of Jonathan Burns because you actually end up following his trial to get closer finding Henry Avery’s treasure. On top of that you start to get clues that the hunt for this treasure really starts to have a psychological effect on people. The leaders of this treasure hunt all end up going crazy and killing their own people. Just as the Pirates started to pick each other off one by one, Jonathan Burns started to pick off his own men one by one.
I had a lot of favorite chapters in this game. Usually on all the other Uncharted games I only had a couple of favorite chapters. In A Thief’s End it was hard for me to choose. In this part I will do my first 4 favorite chapters and in Part 2 I would do the next 3. So yeah, there are 7 chapters I like and even these were hard to choose from, so I will try to keep them simple and straight to the point for the sake of the length of these blogs.
My first favorite chapter in A Thief’s End was Those Who Prove Worthy. I loved both of the chapters that took place in Scotland but the reason I chose this one had to do simply because of the scenery, platforming and puzzle solving. This chapter was a perfectly timed break for all the previous chapters that had a lot of shooting in them. The effects of the ice in this chapter was phenomenal along with the glacier effects. The colors of the environment and the way the light reflected off the ice. This chapter really warms the player up to all the platforming you will encounter in the rest of the game. The two things I really enjoyed was the sliding, and the rope to grapple with. These two additions to the overall platforming really brought the game to life and definitely gave me an Indiana Jones vibe. How many of you out there felt that this chapter had a Goonies feeling to it? I know I did, and it mostly had to do with the puzzles you had to solve. In fact, I would say that the number one movie I thought about most in this game was the Goonies simply because I had to do with Pirates and a lost treasure. My favorite puzzle here was the one where you had to turn all the wheels and line up the crosses a certain way for the door to open. Did you know that if you think you got it right and try to open the door Sam will stop you and ask, “Are you sure it’s right?” Also, most of the treasures in this chapter are super hard to discover. The reason behind that I think is that the graphic designers did such a good job blending the parts of the environment you can climb from the parts you cannot.
The Twelve Towers for most people, including me, was a great chapter. This chapter was as open world as Uncharted has ever got except of course for the Western Ghats in the Lost Legacy. Even though there was a general path through the chapter, the chapter itself was huge. This chapter out of all of them in A Thief’s End was the most beautiful. I was very happy to see that Naughty Dog incorporated the ability to drive a car and on top of that including the wench to use when you had to get up a muddy incline. I also loved the way they made the wench interactive, you had to wrap it around the wooden poles and planks then use the jeep to pull things down. My first few play throughs in this chapter I would spend 30-45 minutes just driving around, taking in the scenery, and enjoying the beauty of the environment. I loved the part where you got to go up the last muddy incline using the wench then the boulder comes loose and pushes you over the edge of the cliff. To top that off Drake nearly goes flying out of the jeep, then you have to climb up the jeep back into the driver’s seat then drive up the side of the cliff. Are you kidding me? Fantastic job Naughty Dog. I also really enjoyed the conversations between Drake, Sully and Sam as your driving around because you learn a lot more about them. Especially Sully, in fact we come to learn that Sully knew and did work for Hector Alcazar. Pretty much every villain in the series Sully knew in some way or another. The battles and gun fights in this chapter are pretty good too, I absolutely loved them especially the first encounter. How many of you were able to stealth the whole area without using a gun? I was only able to do it on hard, on crushing I kept getting noticed. There is a hit and run method I used also using the sniper rifle. I would stealth kill most of the guys all the way up the tower and then once I got enough sniper rifle ammo I would stealthily climb down, work my back toward the bushes where I parked the jeep and pick them off one by one running between cover using the bushes and boulders for cover. I really cannot say enough about this chapter, one could probably spend a few paragraphs about it, but let us move on.
Hidden in Plain sight was a great, all-around chapter. You got to walk around, meet people, discover, solve puzzles, and it ends with an epic gun fight. I really enjoyed walking through the crowd, buying an apple from the lady selling apples, acquiring a treasure by negotiating with a guy selling a compass, and of course the lemur stealing the apple. Those little bits of extra cinematics brought a little more realism into the gameplay. The whole puzzle inside the tower was cool to say the least. I loved working my way up and around the tower to ring the bells in the proper order. I will say it again; body mechanics and platforming were awesome in this section. The ending of this puzzle was stupendous. You ring the last bell on top using Drake to swing back and forth, then the whole thing collapses and as your falling you grab onto a gear, then you have to keep climbing it so you don’t die, the big bell then smashes onto top of it, and in the last second you use your rope to grab onto piece of metal to help break your fall. I remember after that happened I was like “whoa, let’s do it again”. I always look forward to that part whenever I play through this chapter. I also really enjoyed the puzzle underneath the tower where you must match the different pirate sigil’s in a certain order to unlock each door and then get the final clue to where Henry Avery went next. You know my first 3 play throughs I had to literally guess that last four pirate sigil’s, it didn’t matter that I had the rough drawings to go by I just could not figure it out! The real topper I think for this whole game was the end of this chapter. Naughty Dog took it to a whole other level, and I am mostly talking about Drake being dragged by a truck his rope is attached to. This section was astounding. First your hanging over a bridge dogging boats, then your being dragged through the mud while you have to shoot the enemy. When you think it is over a car slams into Drake and you must crawl out and shoot two guys at an awkward angle. Of course, it ends with an epic car crash where Nate and Sam ditch the bike, slid under a tanker and the armored car smashes into it somersaulting through the air.
One of my favorite additions to the Uncharted games was the chapter At Sea. This was a very beautiful and peaceful level. Being able to drive a boat around the island, discover clues, treasures and the beginning of the story of Jonathan Burns’ journey for the treasure. The effects of the water when Drake would get wet, as well as the sand when he would walk or run on it was cool. You can swim almost anywhere in the chapter and I really enjoyed at times swimming under water, looking at all the fish, the coral reef and enjoying the break from the previous chapter. As we all know once you’re done with this chapter the next 3 chapters kick your butt and test your patience especially on Crushing. I really enjoyed finding the sunken ship. When you first discover it if you’re in the right spot Drake will draw a Journal entry, but when you jump in the water, swim around in and out of the ship, it’s awesome. The attention to detail was perfect as we see the barnacles all over the ship, sea weed growth everywhere and the decay of the wood really made the realism come to life. I also loved the “Going on Propoise” trophy where you drive the boat around the islands until you get 3 Dolphins following your boat. What I liked to do is swim with the Dolphins. “What?” you say? Yeah, I would stop the boat have Drake jump in the water, and swim around with the Dolphins, it was cool. There was also some amazing platforming with the rope in this chapter. Climbing the cliffs and swinging around them with the rope was exhilarating. I think my favorite section in this chapter was when Nate and Sam find the spot where the Pirates planned their colony. Honestly it seemed pretty similar to how America started: 1. They had their revolutionary war against the British. 2. They created their own “Constitution” and code of conduct. 3. They were the Founders. 4. They drawings and maps for Libertalia and New Devon.
The sandy beaches, lush trees and bushes were so detailed you would think you were really there. This is also an important chapter because you’ll notice that Drake is depressed and down. His mood and attitude change for the rest of the game as he starts to do more soul searching as in to why he is even on this treasure hunt. You can tell that he is very upset with himself after what he did to Elena, and this continues for the rest of the game. Two things to notice in this game, 1. Once Drake finds Sam again after Marooned, he tries to tell his brother that maybe this is all a mistake and they should just leave. 2. At the end of No Escape Drake again tries to tell his brother that the past is the past and we should move on from our former imaginations. These are important signs of maturity and genuine regret that Nathan has never shown before. I really enjoyed At Sea, even though it was probably as long as the Twelve Towers.
This is going to end part 1 of A Thief’s End my friends. I know it is long for it only to be Part 1, but I have a lot to say and talk about in this game. For me it is the end of Nathan Drake, Elena, and possibly Sully, saying goodbye to these amazing characters was hard for me. Think about all the Uncharted games for a moment and how we have grown with Nathan Drake, Elena Fisher, and Victor Sullivan; I am someone who gets attached to characters and that only happens if they’re good characters. I hope you all enjoyed the first part, stay tuned for the second part.