That’s far from a bad thing.
When it was first shown at PlayStation Experience, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy filled me with both hope and fear. The Uncharted game series developer, Naughty Dog, currently holds the distinction of being the premier studio in video games. Last year’s Uncharted 4: A Theif’s End gave the beloved Nathan Drake a send off that was to the gaming community what the final episode of M*A*S*H was to old white people. In this day in age it seems no one knows when to leave good enough alone. Could a studio as talented as Naughty Dog be guilty of the same thing movie studios do? Even with the promise of exploring other characters in this franchise, many were simply ready to let this series rest in its deserved place in history. After playing The Lost Legacy, not only does it continue Naughty Dog’s trend of progressive ideas, it also manages to find its own voice among the Deja Vu.
UNCHARTED: THE LOST LEGACY
Developer: Naughty Dog
Published by: Sony
Available for: PlayStation 4
Instead of the Han Solo like dork that is Nathan Drake, players will guide the actions of Chloe Frazer who fans will remember from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Outside of being able to monkey up the sides of mountains, Chloe is the antithesis of Nathan Drake. Someone always in control and borderline maliciously conniving in the execution of her goals. Chloe is joined by Uncharted 4’s co-antagonist Nadine Ross, a mercenary looking for her next pay day. The uneasy alliance formed between these two women serves as the centerpiece to the narrative that unfolds in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy as they work together to find the sacred Tusk of Ganesh.
As the two women traverse the mountains of India in search of the relic, they’ll be plunged into epic gunfights against the troops and APCs under the command of the game’s villain Asav. A warlord looking to create a civil war. That’s really all there is to Asav, he’s not very memorable as a bad guy. In fact, as of writing this, I had trouble recalling how he got his ultimate comeuppance in the game. Thankfully, Chloe and Nadine are enough to carry this story.
Mechanically, everything in Lost Legacy will feel familiar to long time Uncharted fans. Duck and cover gun fighting, finding the yellow rock to vault yourself up a mountain, sliding down a mountain to rope yourself for a last minute save; Chloe is in those regards a female Drake to the letter.
How these characters separate themselves from the Deja Vu is Chloe and Nadine are incredibly well written and again serve as proof that Naughty Dog is unmatched when it comes to narrative in games. With Chloe, we learn a bit more about her past which sheds additional light on why she’s in the treasure hunting business and, more importantly, why finding the Tusk of Ganesh is a personal adventure for her. For Nadine, we learn more about what happened to her after the events of Uncharted 4. These characters play off one another well to create an underlining affair, you’ll probably walk away thinking they must have dated after the game. Regardless, these ladies are interesting to watch on screen. The voice actresses lending their talents to the characters, Claudia Black and Laura Bailey, deliver the dialogue with nuance and when needed an energy that makes the performances among the best of 2017. In fact, the best moments of the game aren’t Chloe and Nadine in peril or jumping from a moving train; it’s the moments that come full circle. In one of the later cut scenes of the game, Nadine uses a line on Sam Drake which Chole used on her in the early part of the game and Chloe’s “I’m soo proud,” a comment almost epitomizes the journey we go on with these two.
What Lost Legacy does to separate itself from most games is cutting off its own fat. You can barely count on one hand how many unnecessary crates you’ll need to move or truck winch puzzles you’ll need to solve. Even putting the game in an open world setting didn’t add much filler. The game actually moves you through its plot quickly but it does make sure to give you those moments of peace to let you appreciate the majesty of India and all the action you just went through.
Despite everything it does well, there are some things to nit pick. Minor of these being the 4K resolution checker boarding. It’s a way studio’s bump up a game’s visual fidelity to make it graphically “4k” without actually being 4K. Those of us playing on regular old 1080p high def will see characters and textures that look comprised of microscopic checkerboard pixels. The game still looks phenomenal and noticing the bumped textures does little to hinder that. What’s the real issue is the open world part of the game itself. It’s vast, gorgeous, but also empty at the same time. As you drive from one part of the map to another there’s really not much to do. No enemies to battle or enough wildlife to actually make the setting feel more grounded.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was something even the most diehard fans of the franchise never asked for. In the end, the game ended up being a welcome addition to the series and a perfect place to leave it for a few years while Naughty Dog makes The Last of Us Part II. Chole and Nadine are the latest examples of female leads in a video game (Rise of the Tomb Raider, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last of Us: Left Behind) that work on multiple levels. Even their comparison to the roles played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in the classic girl power movie Thelma & Louise don’t feel cliche. To call out similarities even more, Lost Legacy even has its own Brad Pitt in Troy Baker reprising his role as Nathan’s brother Sam Drake. Sit back and get ready for a pulse pounding thrill because if you can’t enjoy Chloe taking a picture of Nadine hundreds of feet in the air on top of an ancient monument then I just feel bad for you.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy lives up to every bit of the multi-million selling franchise’s blockbuster lineage.