A major problem with video games is sequelitis; the unfortunate trend of a long-running series seeing a steady decline in quality with each entry. Since its introduction on the PS3, the Uncharted series has shown a surprising resistance to this curse by focusing heavily on exciting and inventive level design integrated with captivating (albeit formulaic) stories. Likeable characters deliver well-written dialogue and everything just feels natural. You cannot have a story about people and not make those people relatable. Combine this with solid, consistent and responsive gameplay and bombastic, adrenaline-rush levels and you have a formula for an exciting spectacle!
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy turns the narrative away from Nathan Drake and his band of thieves and puts the focus on the popular anti-hero Chole Frazer, a thief and inspired treasure hunter who isn’t afraid to get her hands a little dirty. She was shockingly-absent in the excellent Uncharted 4 and here makes a welcome return. This time she joins up with Nadine Ross, a villain from Uncharted 4 who runs a powerful and ruthless mercenary company. This new dynamic duo finds themselves trekking across the lush landscapes of India in search of Ganesha’s Tusk, a task inherited by Chloe from her father.
Along the way they cross paths with a warlord named Asav who is attempting to overthrow the legitimate government in India for his own gains and his coup seems dependent on his attainment of the Tusk. If this sounds familiar, then congratulations! You played Uncharted 2! Yep, the plot is pretty much recycled from that game, only with a slightly less cartoonish villain. I actually like Asav, though. He’s a well-written and intimidating character and proves to be one of the most worthy foes in the franchise.
The gameplay is lifted right out of Uncharted 4, polishing some of the rough edges with grabbing some ledges and interacting with objects in the world. Traversing the landscape is still smooth and satisfying and each successful swing from the grappling hook feels like an exhilarating achievement. The shooting mechanics, however, seem a little different. Enemies can absorb an insane amount of bullets before dropping and the one-woman-army idea is thrown out entirely. I would say this is an adjustment to some complaints that Uncharted 4 was a little too easy, but it can be frustrating when you land an obvious headshot with a sniper rifle only to just mildly stagger and annoy the target. I can presume this is an issue of polish on Naughty Dog’s part and hopefully we will see some patching to resolve some of this issue.
The levels are standard fare for the franchise and, while they are gorgeous, can feel quite linear for most of the game. The gunplay areas are more stricter and more confined than many of those in other entries in the series. Still, the open world segment of the game is quite good, although it is only available in one chapter. The various events are scattered throughout the game and while they never reach the level of spectacle seen in its parent series, they are well-made and exciting. They only real complaint I have is that many of the levels and associated events feel like rehashes of things we saw in previous games in the series like climbing and fighting your way along a speeding train and driving a jeep through muddy roads while taking out attacking motorcycles. There is definitely a sign here that they were running out of ideas, a fear that never crossed my mind while playing Uncharted 4.
Overall, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a solid entry in the series and a great placeholder until the inevitable release of a game starring Nathan and Elena’s daughter, Cassie. It is much shorter than the other games but at a retail price of just $40, it is worth checking out, especially for fans of the series. There is a lot to enjoy here!