Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review

The last time I reviewed an Uncharted game, I kind of made everyone super mad. I complained about Uncharted 4’s thin story, linear path, somewhat samey gameplay and one-dimensional combat.

That being said, I liked the game well enough to give it, in my opinion anyway, a relatively high score. I feel comfortable in saying that if you liked Uncharted 4, or if you’re a fan of the Uncharted series in general, you’re probably going to like The Lost Legacy. But is there something here to win over crabby old cynics like myself? Hit the jump to find out.

Game info
Genre: Action adventure
Platform/s: PS4
Reviewed on: PS4
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Distributor: Ster Kinekor
Website: www.unchartedthegame.com

Nathan Drake bows out of this one, leaving you with cocky wisecracker Chloe Frazer and her reluctant, surly ex-mercenary accomplice Nadine Ross. It’s the standard odd-couple trope you’d have seen in a hundred buddy cop movies from the ‘90s, and the narrative and dialogue mostly plays out the same way.

The two have decent chemistry, but the back-and-forth is a little too familiar and their inevitable friendship is all too predictable. Still, while it exists within the confines of clichés and tropes, it’s handled well and makes for entertaining character development, even if it is lacking the emotional depth of Uncharted 4’s relationship between Drake and his brother, Sam.

I said up top that if you like the previous Uncharted games, you’re going to like this one – and that holds true here to a fault. This will likely be the last game in the franchise, and Naughty Dog is at risk here of overstaying their welcome. The gameplay is frenetic but repetitive, and coming in just a vine-swing behind Uncharted 4, that repetition only stands out more. The old beast is starting to show its age, and Naughty Dog would do well to euthanise it after this outing.

Still, I was quite taken with the first few adventures in the game, which had me running across rooftops and dodging gunfire in the crowded slums of India. It felt good to have something tighter, more constricted, more frantic than the standard “meandering around the jungle” fare I was used to from Uncharted.

Unfortunately, before long I was back in a lush forest, climbing cliffs and running through waterfalls. It helps that these are probably the most gorgeous Uncharted visuals to date, but it still feels like the developers were too afraid to explore new territory for long and fell back into their comfort zone of “chasing ancient artifacts around beautiful landscapes”.

One of my major complaints about Uncharted 4 was that the game felt like it was on-rails – environments appeared open-ended and ripe for exploration, but there was really only one path through them. Lost Legacy opens up the exploration a little bit more with a few side paths to go down and things to collect, but somewhat annoyingly, it all felt a little half-assed. Collecting the various trinkets doesn’t really do anything of value, and in spite of extra exploration space you’re still funnelled down a specific path with cliffs that can’t be climbed, jumps that can’t be made and bushes that inexplicably block your movement. This results in a sometimes frustrating experience of not simply being able to find a way through, but having to find the specific path that the developers want you to take.

Just like in Uncharted 4, the elusive “Tusk of Ganesh” serves mostly as a MacGuffin to move the rather thin plot forward. There isn’t a huge amount of motivation for why either of the characters even cares about the damn thing, and for neither of them does it seem to be worth repeatedly putting their lives at risk.

That isn’t to say Lost Legacy hasn’t innovated – the combat is significantly more exciting than Uncharted 4’s, and the stealth option was now a more viable one. The game’s combat feels a lot more tense, and allows a lot of room for creative, clever ways of clearing areas of enemies. It’s certainly more rewarding than clumsily shooting everyone in plain sight.

With the experience lasting around six hours, Naughty Dog have trimmed the fat off this one and made the action more consistent. It has none of the tedious move-stuff-around puzzles of the previous title, instead offering some actual thinkers which provide a welcome oasis between the fast-paced set pieces.

This is probably why we’ve ended up with a less compelling story and somewhat two-dimensional characters – the game essentially strings together a bunch of Uncharted-y things one after the other, like a kind of remastered highlight reel. The scripted sequences are done well enough to make them feel tense and engaging the whole time, and the game aptly delivers that sense of adventure.

In some ways this works fairly well – Lost Legacy doesn’t take itself quite as seriously, and as such it gets away with a more pulpy, pedal-to-the-metal approach. It was a good decision to leave out Drake and friends, who fans of the series no doubt feel more attached to and would expect more depth from. Having two female protagonists is very progressive, but what I enjoyed about it is that Naughty Dog didn’t feel the need to shine a spotlight on it or make it a key focus of the game – it just happens to be two women, which is how it should be.

How you feel about this game will come down to personal preference. If Uncharted 4 is Saving Private Ryan, Lost Legacy is Transformers. Both feature blockbuster action, but Lost Legacy cuts out the noise and serves that up front and centre, trading emotion and sacrifice for wisecracks and adventure. If the greatest hits of the Uncharted series strung together in a tight package sounds like your kind of game, you’ll probably enjoy The Lost Legacy immensely.

80Go into it with the right expectations, and you’ll find that this lower-priced Uncharted spin-off is an entertaining distraction that’s well worth the cost of entry.

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