(Pocket-lint) - The Uncharted series has been phenomenally successful for Sony over the years - both financially and critically - but we haven't had a new game since The Lost Legacy in 2017 and, with an Uncharted movie now doing the rounds, a new outing for Nathan Drake and chums is long overdue.
Sadly though, it looks as if we'll have to wait a fair bit longer for some all-new action-adventuring in the Uncharted-verse. There's no fresh game in sight and Naughty Dog's attention is seemingly elsewhere at present. Instead, to fill the gap and capitalise on a bit of the Hollywood hype, we have a collection of the last two titles - "remastered" and repackaged for a new console generation.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is a PlayStation 5-flavoured reissue of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. A PC version will follow at a later date, too, but this is strictly for PS5 owners only for now, giving newcomers a chance to play the duo at their best and fans a chance to revisit each with a few enhancements here and there.
In all honesty, though, the collection is far from an overhaul - and the remastering process nowhere near as extensive as evidenced in the previous box set, The Nathan Drake Collection. But then, the leap from PS3 to PS4 was more pronounced. Plus, considering you're getting two of the very best PS4 era exclusives, it's hard to begrudge the lack of additional extras.
Our biggest question when we first heard of the Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection: would it be worthwhile if you own the games already?
There's little doubt that newcomers should pick this package up immediately, as it provides a combined 20 hours of some of the best action-adventuring around. But, what about those who have completed them before?
Well, in our experience the few enhancements do make a difference - not least the greater frame rates and significantly faster loading times - and, ultimately, these games lend themselves well to a second playthrough. Maybe even a third one down the line.
Yes, the remastering is a little on the shallow side, but that's mainly because the source content was of a high enough level already. And, as George Lucas proved with his original Star Wars movie trilogy, you can end up making unnecessary changes that make things worse.
Hopefully this release will provoke Naughty Dog to get its finger out and give us an all-new Uncharted adventure, as then it really will have been all worthwhile.
Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection
- Two stunning games for the price of one
- New 60fps and 120fps options look great
- Faster loading times are a revelation
- Cheap upgrade path for existing owners
- Can transfer game saves from PS4 to PS5
- Not as extensive a remaster as some
- Uncharted 4 multiplayer seems to have gone missing along the way
Take Uncharted 4, for example, which continues to be a beacon for cinematic storytelling and epic set pieces in games.
Regular series hero Nathan Drake is joined almost constantly throughout by his long incarcerated older brother, Sam, in a quest to find the lost treasure of pirate Henry Avery. This took the series to a different level on its release in 2016, adding a second character to most sequences and still stands up against the best single-player action-adventures today.
You can read our original review here, which is as accurate today as it was then, apart from the section on multiplayer as that hasn't made the transition to this renewed edition. What you do get though is some superb voice acting, especially by games industry stalwarts Nolan North (Nathan) and Troy Baker (Sam), and a 14-hour campaign that combines puzzling, open-world(ish) exploring, stealth, shooting and some blockbuster scenes that are so fun you forget that they are largely linear and on-rails.
This is the best Uncharted game by far and it was a joy playing it all the way through again.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, by comparison, feels more like DLC than a game in its own right - the story only takes around six hours to complete. However, it too has a fine cast and is the first in the series not spearheaded by Drake.
Instead, you play as Chloe Frazer, a side character in Uncharted 2, who is accompanied by Nadine Ross, an antagonist in the other game in this collection. They are superbly played by Claudia Black and Laura Bailey respectively and share as much on-screen chemistry as the Drake brothers in Uncharted 4.
As it uses the same game engine, it also shares much of the same gameplay of A Thief's End and works as an ideal companion. The story also takes place sometime after, so can be seen as a sequel of sorts. However, its truncated length really just leaves you wanting more and, as we've mentioned above, that's not likely anytime soon.
So, apart from the missing multiplayer on Uncharted 4, you are essentially getting the exact same games as released half a decade ago. There are no actual gameplay tweaks (no need, really) and anyone who has played both before might find them overly familiar a second time around. What is new, however, is the way they are presented.
Graphically, they look identical to how we remember them on PS4 Pro - which is testament to how good that was for the time - with the improvements more to do with how they run.
There are three graphics modes on offer now, including a performance mode that locks the resolution to 1440p but gives you a smooth and solid 60 frames-per-second gameplay. Then there's a performance+ mode that ups the frame rate to 120fps for those with capable TVs. That drops the resolution down to 1080p, but might be worth the sacrifice if you want that extra response time.
And then there's a new native 4K mode, fidelity, although you'll have to put up with 30fps, as per the originals. This is easily our least favourite option. While it looks incredibly detailed and crisp, when you've played a little in 120fps or even 60fps, going back to 30 looks stuttery and uncomfortable.
In fact, the standard performance mode is the best compromise we feel. Both A Thief's End and The Lost Legacy look great in 1440p and run superbly in 60fps. Even when there's not a lot of action on screen, panning around the glorious vistas of Madagascar and India respectively is a joy at the higher frame rate.
Other enhancements made to the games to make them PS5-ready include use of the DualSense controller features, such as haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Although the implementation is actually quite subtle and doesn't really add much, we feel.
There's also 3D Audio support for those with capable headphones. This enables the excellent soundtrack and audio design to sound its best, even when you don't want to disturb others in the home.
But, the most important improvement made by Naughty Dog and guest developer Iron Galaxy - other than frame rate - is fast loading. The PlayStation 5's SSD storage is used superbly in both Uncharted titles in the collection, with loading almost non-existent throughout.
Compare that to the originals and it's night and day. One of our biggest bugbears with the Uncharted games per se was loading speeds - The Last of Us, too - and this is literally a game-changer this time around. It enables you to get straight into the action with nary a wait. Some might even see this as the best new feature of them all.
Add on the fact that you can transfer your PS4 game saves to the PS5 and it could make this collection attractive to those who even own both already.
When Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection brought three PS3 titles to the PS4 they underwent a major graphical overhaul. It's not so much the case with this follow-up collection of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. However, that's partly because both already looked superb and continue to do so on PS5. Plus, the addition of 60 and 120 frames-per-second play for those with capable TVs, and incredibly fast loading times, help make this package an essential for newcomers and an ideal way to revisit two top-tier Sony exclusives.
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