(Pocket-lint) - Not only was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End a superb and fitting end to the adventures of Nathan Drake, it seemed to be an end to the series full stop.
The game engine had evolved to near perfection over the years and how could Naughty Dog top it? Best to say goodbye to Uncharted, we thought, and look forward to other chapters in The Last of Us series instead.
Naughty Dog had other ideas, however. Yes, Nathan Drake might not be in the picture anymore, but the world of Uncharted has many tales to tell yet. And with such a well-refined game engine available, why not make more use of it?
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy feels more like a filler between games than an all-new direction. It re-establishes bit-part characters as leads and maybe sets a stall for further derrings-do of a different cast.
But while it is the lighter, shorter filling in an Uncharted sandwich, it is a delectable treat – especially for existing fans. And for a cut-down £25 cover price, we musn’t grumble as there’s plenty on offer to make that a real bargain.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review: New (old) characters
This time around, the main protagonists are the controllable Chloe Frazer and an NPC ally in Nadine Ross, from Uncharteds 2 and 4 respectively. A surprise guest or two pop up along the way, but to say any more would reveal massive spoilers.
Frazer is a great lead, being a sassy, clever and resourceful treasure hunter, while former leader of mercenary outfit Shoreline, Ross is quite simply badass. A fine couple to spend time with for sure.
They are tasked with finding the legendary Tusk of Ganesh in the heart of India and, if you are already au fait with Uncharted themes, that involves plenty of puzzle solving, climbing and gun play throughout.
The Lost Legacy doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, offering the same style – graphically and in gameplay terms – as Drake’s final adventure. It even borrows the two-character camaraderie and play mechanics evidenced in Uncharted 4. However, it also throws a few new features into the mix.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review: Open-world at last
One of them is an open-world map, which enables you to complete set and side missions in your own time and order. This is a first for the series and while it is only used for part of the game, it is a significant segment and you’ll enjoy driving the four-by-four jeep far more this time around. There are fewer limitations and set paths.
In many ways it feels a little more like the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise at times, when you are sussing out how to solve environmental puzzles and then exploring to another section of the map of your choosing.
Chloe Frazer even looks and feels a bit like Lara Croft on occasions. There are obvious differences – Frazer is part Indian, for example – but as her hair is tied into a pony tail for the duration, the similarities cannot be dismissed.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review: The plot thickens
It doesn’t matter though, because once you get into the story more and the characterisations of Frazer, Ross and others are more established, you soon get carried away with the plot to care. The dynamic between the two female leads also strikes this game apart from rivals and the shenanigans of the Drakes that came before.
That’s not to say they are forgotten. Indeed, The Lost Legacy is set shortly after A Thief’s End and refers to its events often – after all, Frazer was one of the antagonists that time out. It helps make this chapter feel more like a sequel and suitably integrated into the mythos.
It shares many of the gameplay cues of its immediate predecessor, that’s for sure – some of its caveats too.
Like Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4, Frazer doesn’t have to run headlong into battles with the option to take a stealthier approach instead. This mainly involves skulking around in long grass or foliage and tackling enemies one on one in sneak attacks instead of going in guns abalzing. It is effectively and offers a welcome change of pace.
The only problem is, as in the last game, your artificially controlled partner often hides in plain sight of one of the guards, yet they don’t bat an eyelid. But when you are spotted all hell breaks loose. It’s an issue that merely irritates than ruins the experience, but we wonder if Naughty Dog could have fixed it in the year-and-a-half between games.
Other than that, while the story mode is short (we finished it in a little over eight solid playing hours), it is a pleasant, exciting ride that we enjoyed all-the-way.
Your £25 also gets you an excellent co-op survival mode and 14 maps worth of competitive multiplayer action, so you can get plenty from the game long after the curtain falls on the campaign.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review: HDR at its best
It looks superb, if derivative of Uncharted 4 – especially the jungle and other external textures. We’re pleased to say though that the PS4 Pro version is presented in glorious dynamic 4K and the HDR (high dynamic range) presentation is amongst the best we’ve seen in gaming yet.
The latter is also available on the standard PS4 and if you have a HDR TV, even when the resolution is 1080p rather than 4K, the brightness and colourscape are magnificent. The opening section, based at night, is an incredible example of HDR-enhanced hues and explosion effects. We found our jaws dropping on more than one occasion.
Even though it’s not as full a game as previous Uncharted outings, The Lost Legacy is yet another excellent example why developer Naughty Dog is so highly regarded.
It doesn’t have as many cut scenes as other games from the studio, The Last of Us included, yet it still tells a seamless, engaging story.
The game feels instantly recognisable for fans of Nathan Drake, but gives us two new characters we soon adored almost as much. We sincerely hope we get to join Frazer and Ross on future adventures too.
At £25, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a no-brainer. It might offer a short single-player experience, but there’s plenty of co-op and multiplayer play to keep you entertained going forward. At least until Chloe and Nadine return for Uncharted 5, we hope.