lost legacy review

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy started as a typically sized piece of DLC but Naughty Dog’s natural ambition expanded it to a proper stand-a-lone title, with a price to match. For the most part, it succeeds at offering a complete short story of Uncharted-worthy adventure. However, there are moments where the unnaturally expanded length shows its modest foundations, most notably in the saggy middle (which some might love, but I did not).

The first few hours had me hooked and hyped. I loved the idea of giving the Uncharted 4 platform another shot at entertaining fans. To spend years of development and money and only get the 15 hours of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, felt like a waste. Like poor caribbean reggae artists sharing the same beat, why not put a fresh perspective on something already established. The Lost Legacy still looks cutting edge (though Chloe is noticeably lower quality than Nadine) and definitely doesn’t feel like a lame cash-in.

Let’s talk about the game now

The Uncharted formula is based around: stunning action set-pieces, climbing/platforming, cinematic cut-scenes, a strong narrative, open-area mobs with plenty of crouch cover, puzzles, beautiful vistas, and charming writing (did I miss anything?).

When all is said and done, TLL delivers on all accounts. If you enjoy Uncharted, you will enjoy this vertical slice of the established recipe. If you don’t like Uncharted then obviously stay away. However, if you thought Uncharted 4 was the worst of the series, you will be happy to know that TLL takes a lighter tone, focusing more on the adventure than a mid-life crisis and married life.

Middle-act sag

After the stunning opening, an open-world section dominates the middle portion of the game. Those that enjoy hunting for treasure will literally ‘find’ plenty to enjoy here. I enjoy Uncharted’s linearity to keep momentum high and pacing tight. Completionists will love this section, but I was surprised at how long it kept me away from the action. I found the map irritating to navigate as well, adding frustrating backtracking to an already long portion of mostly puzzles. I enjoy the calm downtime of puzzles in Uncharted but I found this portion far too long. My colleague Matthew Owen however, spent the time to find the many hidden items (that I completely skipped) and enjoyed the process, likening it to Shrines in Breath of the Wild.

I appreciate that the extra content in the middle is optional, but I still found the critical path a real slog.

The big Uncharted moment

Uncharted games are famous for their unbelievable set-piece action sequences. Dangling from a train to open Uncharted 2 is the classic example and the only one I’ll mention to avoid spoilers. Most entries in the series have 2-3, but nearing the end of TLL I worried it wouldn’t even have one! Fortunately, the finale ramps up considerably and Naughty Dog delivered big-time. The ending is so strong it transformed my opinion of the game from a disappointment to a hearty recommendation to any Uncharted fans hungry for more.

Chloe and Nadine

The dynamic duo are worthy successors to Nathan Drake. Their initial mistrust and characters arcs are believable and satisfying. Chloe’s mysterious past is discussed and Nadine is fleshed out beyond her great turn in A Thief’s End.

Chloe’s character model is the only let-down, showing her limited development, and that’s only because she’s seen often next to Nadine’s cutting-edge UC4 model. The amount of expression Naughty Dog achieves from Nadine’s subtlest facial expressions is still the most impressive aspect for me. Little twitches of the eyebrow or corner of her mouth speak volumes and add weight to her dynamic with Chloe. It’s unfortunate Chloe looks like a remastered PS3 character next to her. Naughty Dog set the bar incredibly high, and Chloe smacks her forehead right into it.

Stealth and Combat

The combat areas of baddies are more satisfying than ever thanks to the open-ended approach to success. Stealth is mostly a viable option to patient players, but I longed for a distraction tool of some kind. Without a way to influence the guard’s movement, I often lost patience and resorted to a full-on assault (which was still satisfying). An aggressive approach still has creative freedom though. The mix of explosives, grappling hook, and multiple angles of approach allow for impressive player-created sequences of destruction. I was surprised to find this the most enjoyable combat of the franchise.

Overall

Uncharted fans will love this. I applaud the idea of telling a new story with a great game engine at a reduced price. It’s mostly a remix of previous franchise ideas, but the improved combat design still adds a positive contribution to the mix. The middle will most likely be too saggy for those seeking a tighter experience, but it’s worth the dip to reach the glorious highs of the close.

4/5

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