Before we get started today, this review is probably filled with SPOILERS…so like….you’ve been warned. Hop all the way to the bottom to get the Final Thoughts and My score.
I’ve been with the Uncharted series since its beginning. As the series got its start on the PS3 in 2007, it was so cool to see Naughty Dog make the shift away from the mascot platformers which made them famous. With Uncharted we were treated to a new direction from Naughty Dog, something that felt a little more “real” while completely embracing adventure films like Indiana Jones and paying homage to series like Tomb Raider. We were also introduced to one of gaming’s most prominent leading men in Nathan Drake; a Nathan Fillion/Brendan Fraser hybrid that had all of the necessary action-star bravado provided by voice actor Nolan North. While Metal Gear Solid was one of the first games to fully feel like a film, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was able to expand upon that premise. While the first Uncharted has some technical issues, it created a new breed of games that highly relied upon great story telling and even stronger dialogue. The Uncharted series is filled with: great characters, great action, great acting, and perfect pacing. No segment feels too long, none too short. The culmination of Uncharted was thought to be Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End in 2016. However, at PSX in 2016 the gaming industry was completely taken by surprise by Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
The Lost Legacy (LL) is a standalone DLC expansion to Uncharted 4. You do not need the main game to be able to play LL. While I suggest that you play the ENTIRE Uncharted series (it’s available in a PS4 collection), before playing Lost Legacy, you can jump in here to experience its story without too much being lost in translation. Luckily for newbies, LL is not tethered TOO tightly to the other adventures, but you may be a little lost if you have yet to play Uncharted 4.
The Lost Legacy is refreshingly the first title in the Uncharted series to not feature longtime protagonist, Nathan Drake. In LL you play as Chloe Frazer (nicely named), a rival treasure hunter who first appeared in Uncharted 2 as a foil for Drake. While there is strong history between the two characters, Chole represents the darker, more self-interested side of Nathan’s personality. They part ways at the end of Uncharted 2, but Chloe does play a significant role in the series’ third installment.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy takes place in India, a new locale for the globe-trotting treasure hunt. Chloe is joined by Nadine Ross, an antagonist mercenary from Uncharted 4. Ross has been hired by Chloe to provide muscle and protection as she ventures through the mountains of India to find the mythical Tusk of Ganesh. The duo is constantly interrupted by Ross’ old mercenary organization, Shoreline, and their persistent leader, Asav. As with every Uncharted game, the antagonist is also after the same treasure and it becomes a race to see who captures the tusk first.
A nice addition to The Lost Legacy is the return of Sam Drake, Nathan’s older brother. Sam was a key ingredient to the narrative of Uncharted 4 and his comeback in Lost Legacy is much appreciated. Those familiar with the Uncharted series may agree that Sam is starting to parallel other series mainstay, Victor Sullivan or Sully. I think the next series of Uncharted games will continue to use Sam in this capacity as an older mentor to his niece Cassie Drake, who was revealed at the end of Uncharted 4.
LL heavily reuses assets from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, as it should. It’s difficult to judge this game from a gameplay perspective because it’s built to be a storyline expansion of main game, yet it features very little from its story. The best way to describe LL is to say it’s a sidestory to Uncharted 4 that takes place after its main story wraps up. The Lost Legacy begins like most Uncharted games, with an opening sequence that helps get the player accustomed to the mechanics and story that they’ll experience moving forward. They’re taught the basics of the controls such as climbing, jumping, shooting, and fighting through a series of platforming and action sequences. These opening scenes are often very familiar to anything at the beginning of an Indiana Jones or James Bond movie.
Lost Legacy feels precisely like Uncharted 4, which is welcomed if not feeling slightly too familiar. This expansion takes one of the more memorable portions of Uncharted 4 and develops the game around the “open” world concept. In UC4 there is a section in Madagascar where Drake and his compatriots traverse around the Savannah looking for clues that will lead them to treasure. LL uses that functionality and builds most of the game around the small sandbox in the mountains of India. The player is left to explore a map in a Jeep-like vehicle finding treasure and gathering details of the story. There are some side-quests presented to the player which will help the completionist get all of those pesky little trophies.
Driving around the map feels good, just as it did in Uncharted 4. I’m a sucker for the little driving conversations that the characters have between one another. It’s a nice, unnecessary-yet-appreciated touch that gives us more of a window into the lives and minds of these characters. For example, in one conversation we learn that Chloe, has been all over the world but has yet to visit the United States! As always, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy stands out due to its ability to perfectly pace out platforming, action, puzzle, and exploration moments. You rarely feel lost or confused while driving around the map and it always feel as though you never have to wait too long until the next action sequence. The gunplay and combat in LL feels just as fluid and tight as it did in UC4. The same systems exist here as does the emphasis on stealth seen in the main game. While you can go out “guns blazing” in The Lost Legacy, I’ll suggest that any player use the game’s stealth mechanics to greatly aid Chloe and Nadine.
Newly added in Lost Legacy is the ability to pick locks. Chole proves her resourcefulness and using her lockpick to open up weapons caches will greatly enhance your ability to make it through the fire-fight sequences. Chole is also a bit less of a brawler than Nathan was in previous games, so her hand-to-hand fighting style is much more based in martial arts than a boxing-style slugfest. It’s a lot of fun to double up on a enemy to see how the teamwork between Chloe and Nadine functions. Nadine’s AI is helpful as well as she will sometimes take out an enemy from a stealth position to aid Chloe.
The gameplay is incredibly familiar and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it certainly doesn’t add much in that department. There are some new weapons, but ultimately it feels quite a bit like Uncharted 4. It would have been nice to see a little more expansion in the gameplay department, but the reused mechanics are still just as good as they were in 2016.
What I Liked
I enjoyed my time with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy quite a bit. Firstly, the game is absolutely gorgeous! I loved the narrative and the characters. Playing as a new protagonist was a breath of fresh air, and while I love Nathan Drake’s one-liners, Chloe’s anti-hero personality gives the series some much needed depth. After a while you get a little tired of Drake’s overconfidence and bravado. Chloe Frazer serves as a much needed compliment to the Drake bros. Her story is more mature and more personal which makes it more significant than the average treasure hunt. The story helps to unravel her complex relationship with her father and show us how her life has paralleled his. LL gives us more from Nadine and paints her as a someone looking to repent for what she and her company, Shoreline, has done in the past. It’s heavy stuff, but it’s welcomed from a series that has set the stakes somewhat low. Not everything can be Temple of Doom…
I love the gameplay. Uncharted is famous for having the best pacing in the biz and The Lost Legacy continues to have the Goldilocks effect. Nothing is too long or too short, it’s always just right. Even in a sandbox, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy nails its pace well. As you progress further long the story, the game throws enemies at you to break up the driving and exploration segments. Puzzles are just challenging enough to keep you occupied but not too hard to get you overly frustrated. The combat in The Lost Legacy is solid, responsive, and gets the job done. I felt that UC4 had the strongest gun-based combat in the series and LL utilizes the same mechanics as the main game. Even though there are some extra bells and whistles, LL doesn’t break away much from the foundation from A Thief’s End. That’s appreciated as it lessens the learning curve and allows the player to jump into familiar waters.
As always, the characters are great. The writing is great. It’s always fun to actively chuckle at a one-liner or dialogue in a video game. The script is subtle, like a good film’s, but the actors perform it impeccably well creating an ambiance as though you’re playing a feature film. While we’re familiar with these characters, it’s very intriguing to learn more about Chloe and Nadine. I like the antagonist, Asav as well. He serves his purpose as a self-proclaimed servant of Shiva as someone looking to violently cleanse through destruction. Asav may be one of the more interesting villains in the series, even though we don’t get too much of his story in The Lost Legacy.
The game has chases, shootouts, train scenes, AND you get to ride an elephant!! It’s like a good old-fashioned summer blockbuster!
What I Didn’t Like
As with any of the Uncharted games, there are times that can become frustrating. I found myself dying a little bit due to the game not allowing me to jump properly, or it registering my input incorrectly. The series is GREAT at mixing different styles of play, but sometimes you find yourself reaching for a ledge that doesn’t exist or trying to jump but the game won’t let you. While I feel that the series often controls fairly well, there are moments in all the games where there is a little bit of input lag. It’s OK when it’s a jump you can redo, but it’s painful when you’re trying to make a stealth kill. If you miss a stealth kill it can put the enemies on high alert and cause you to waste time and ammo trying to get through a firefight. It can be frustrating for sure. If I’m to end a session with a game like The Lost Legacy it’s often due to some control issue that gets me angry, not quite a rage quit….more of a annoyed stoppage.
There are a few sequences at the very end of The Lost Legacy that are fairly bad offenders. One scene is when you’re trying to climb aboard the side of a train while avoiding debris. Another is when you’re trying to escape the train by running along its roof. For some reason the input was not registering where I had to jump, and I kept jumping off the train. It was quite a pain. Uncharted also has had a little bit of an issue with it’s final encounters. The last encounter in both UC4 and LL involve the need for some well timed dodges and melee strikes. It’s a cool, cinematic way to present a final boss fight, but input delay does cause a little bit of a hiccup in the process. I never felt as though I knew when to dodge or strike and I died a lot. For the future of the series I’d like to see better controls during these highly intense scenes.
While This isn’t much of a complaint, I think I would like to have seen a little more from this game. A great amount of events happen in a very short amount of time. The entire game feels a little bit of a blur. It’s incredibly fun, but its narrative moves quickly, causing you to forget some events along the way. Its length does encourage multiple play-throughs though, so maybe I just need to give it another go! LL doesn’t expand much upon the UC4 model, that’s not necessarily a problem, but there are plenty of times where you feel like it’s just the same game with different characters. The Western Ghats in The Lost Legacy feel and look almost identical to the Savannah of Uncharted 4.
Not much variation here…
It’s clear that Naughty Dog wanted this to feel familiar. The Madagascar portion of Uncharted 4 was one of the most memorable and beautiful segments of the game. It would make sense if Naughty Dog wanted to further explore that mechanic. It’s a nice deviation from the core tenets of the series, but in LL it feels a little reused. It’s a completely enjoyable experience, while lacking originality.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a must play for any fan of the series. It’s a great, quick game that allows you to experience the series through the eyes of different characters. These new characters give the game a much different, but much needed perspective that makes the mind wonder as to where Uncharted can go moving forward. Despite some technical flaws the game play is solid and familiar even if sometimes to a fault. The graphics are beautiful, the staging is superb, and sometimes you just want to take a second to soak it in. This game has made me want to actually get out in the world and travel more, which is also very cool. As always the writing and voice acting is second to none, a great big-budget production wrapped up in a six hour game. It’s also $40 which may be a little pricey for an “expansion”, but I think it’s worth the cash, especially if you play it multiple times.