pop culture | no politics
Last year’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was one of the best games of 2016, a delicious cocktail of the smooth platforming and tight gun play that the franchise has been known for since its debut a decade ago. Developer Naughty Dog made it clear long before the game hit store shelves that it would wrap up series protagonist Nathan Drake’s story, leaving fans wondering if they had experienced their last adventure in the Uncharted universe.
It turns out there were indeed more stories to tell, which brings us to Uncharted: Lost Legacy, a new entry in the series that could best be described as a spin-off. But this isn’t just some two hour DLC adventure, those willing to shell out forty bucks can expect a good nine to ten hours worth of story as well as a full multiplayer experience. It might not feel as robust as previous entries, but it’s a legitimate stand alone title that well-exceeds the game's discounted price.
This time the adventure is set in India and stars a pair of familiar faces, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross. The former has been around since Uncharted 2: Among Thieves while the latter was introduced in last year’s game. Players control Chloe, who brings treasure-hunting savvy and can match Nathan Drake in both platforming and shootouts, while Nadine is there to provide muscle when the duo finds themselves overwhelmed by the enemy. I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn’t the occasional opportunity to play as Nadine, but I did find her to be one of the most-useful AI companions I’ve ever seen in a video game. Not only will she assist you in taking out bad guys, Nadine will occasionally help you solve one of the game’s many puzzles if you take too long to make a move. This could’ve easily come across as a win button situation, but Naughty Dog does a good job of balancing it. Nadine won’t fully solve the puzzle for you which would ruin the experience, but she will chip in by either offering advice or solving a small part of it. Not only does this help prevent frustration, it also makes the character feel more alive because she is an active participate in the adventure. Both characters are written and voice-acted well, resulting in great chemistry that kept me invested in their relationship the entire time.
The aforementioned puzzles are one of the game’s biggest strengths, offering challenge without ever feeling impossible. They’re infinitely better than the puzzles we saw in A Thief’s End, which were often boring or way too easy. Every puzzle in Lost Legacy relates to the game’s story, revealing more about the treasure Chloe and Nadine are chasing which makes them feel like they belong in the world. They enhance the narrative, filling in gaps and relaying information that might normally be revealed in endless lines of exposition. It’s one of the high points of an excellent game, every puzzle I encountered was a treat to solve.
Utilizing the same game engine as its predecessor, Lost Legacy delivers the smooth frame rates and beautiful graphics we saw in A Thief’s End. The adventure takes Chloe and Nadine through urban areas, crypts, and jungles with every environment looking better than the last. It sounds great too, underground caverns echo the pair’s conversations and the occasional rainstorm sounds as authentic as the real thing. The two elements combine to deliver a rich world where anything is possible.
Gameplay-wise, there aren’t any surprises to be found here. Lost Legacy is a carbon copy of its predecessor in that regard, it offers identical mechanics which was a bit disappointing. There’s something to be said for consistency, and there’s no question that A Thief’s End had some of the best gameplay in recent years, but I would’ve appreciated the occasional fresh wrinkle to make Lost Legacy feel fresh and stand out from the other titles. You’ll climb, you’ll shoot, you’ll drive…all tasks that remain fun but are overly-familiar at this point.
The enemies you’ll have to get past are the standard generic nobodies that anybody that’s played an Uncharted game will recognize. You’ll face the standard enemy types: foot soldiers, armor-clad shotgunners, and snipers that have made your life miserable in the previous titles. But there’s enough weapon variety available to keep things interesting, and there’s plenty of opportunity to get creative with defeating them. The main antagonist was utterly forgettable, a day after finishing the game I had already forgotten what exactly he was hoping to accomplish by making all this trouble.
The lack of globetrotting was also a letdown as the game never leaves India. It reminds me a lot of Uncharted’s lone hand held adventure Golden Abyss in that regard, as the Vita title also stayed in the same place. This is by no means a deal breaker, but a big part of why the previous games and movies like Indiana Jones are so special is because it’s a global experience. The thrill of discovering a clue on one continent that leads to a new adventure on another. Staying in one country the entire time doesn’t ruin Lost Legacy, but it does makes the story feel somewhat scaled-down.
Despite the occasional shortcoming, Uncharted: Lost Legacy delivers a spectacle that nearly matches the previous entries in the franchise. Perhaps the most important thing it accomplishes is proving that secondary characters can become fascinating protagonists if given the opportunity to shine. It has the potential to set a new standard in video games, I’d love to see more side characters from popular series get their own game. Lost Legacy is a worthy addition to the Uncharted series, and is a must-play title for PlayStation 4 owners.
• Gorgeous graphics and sound
• Expands the Uncharted franchise
• Fun characters
• Outstanding puzzles
• Lack of innovation
• One location
• Forgettable antagonist