Naughty Dog Can Do Many Things, Stealth Is Not One Of Them
Naughty Dog are praised for a number of things. Their ability to tell stories, craft character we grow to love and care about. Praise for how intense their games can be, how the action is rewarding. One element of their games rarely gets highlighted, even though it has played a fairly large role in their recent releases.
I’m a big fan of Naughty Dog’s work, Uncharted 2 and The Last of Us are two of my favourite games of last generation. But there’s some things that can’t be overlooked. Naughty Dog can not do stealth. Every time they’ve added stealth mechanics or sections into their games it’s turned out pretty rough. They’ve never even really improved on their attempts, even going backwards in the case of Uncharted 4.
The Last Of Us had various attempts at stealth, all of which felt pretty damn clunky and dated, but they still felt satisfying. Hiding behind walls and walking slightly slower than normal was about as deep as it got. A.I would walk around in a daze, only responding to things directly in front of them. Clickers offered a highlight due to their reactions to sound, creating intense chapters. It wasn’t perfect, but it was serviceable.
Uncharted 4 has seen no improvements made. The game has been enjoyable so far, but the awful attempts at stealth feel so bizarre. At times it feels like a false option, never garnering the results you’d expect. Level design often results in the player being forced into open combat. Sure a few enemies can be taken out via stealth, but the rest require a gun.
Naughty Dog’s main idea of stealth in Uncharted 4 involves hiding in tall grass. Plenty of games have done this, but when Nate’s head is still clearly visible while in said grass, it feels a little jarring. Witnessing enemies looking directly at the grass, with Nate’s face present, and not reacting resulting in fits of laughter.
Tall grass isn’t the only laughable attempt at stealth. Handing onto ledges in front of enemies result in no reaction what so ever. The only time a enemy will ‘see’ Nate is if he attacks. It’s humorous at first, but quickly becomes silly. I can never quite understand why Naughty Dog are so keen to add stealth to their games when it never plays that well. When enemy AI can’t react to a body in clear site, you have to question why ever bother include stealth at all.
Thankfully, stealth doesn’t play too much of a role in Uncharted 4 on the whole. The action is still satisfying, characters are just as endearing as ever, but yet again, as with recent Naughty Dog’s games, the stealth is just awful. It almost feels cheap compared to the rest of the game, which is a shame. Uncharted 4 is still a great experience, even with its unfortunate primitive stealth mechanics.