It’s been with a cautious optimism that I’ve awaited Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. I’ve been wishing for an Uncharted game with Chloe at the centre for as she’s been around, but I haven’t been impressed with the direction the series has gone since Amy Hennig’s departure. I’m a few hours into The Lost Legacy now, and though I don’t think it’s going to reach the lofty heights of Uncharted 2, I’m enjoying it more than any other Uncharted game since.
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Finally getting to play as Chloe is a joy. She’s mostly the same as Nathan Drake in practical terms, but there’s a coolness to her movement that the other Uncharted heroes can’t match. She’s lithe and acrobatic, and her fighting style shows a martial arts background rather than Drake’s bar-fighting style. It’s all superficial, sure, but for me it makes a world of difference.
In fact, the Nathan Drake barely get a mention in what I’ve played so far. At one point, Nadine asks about Chloe’s history with the Drake brothers, but Chloe quickly shuts down that topic. I wouldn’t surprised if they showed up later in the game, but at least for now, this is well and truly Chloe and Nadine’s story, and I’m really grateful for that.
That said, I’m not convinced with the direction said story is going. The game begins in media res (as do most Uncharted games), and there’s be nothing so far to suggest how Nadine and Chloe met. That’s fine, and I suspect that’ll be revealed later on, but it puts a lot more pressure on the script to pick up the slack, and make a compelling case for these characters’ and their relationship despite the lack of context. So far, The Lost Legacy’s script hasn’t really done that.
Chloe is her usual sarcastic, entertaining self, but not to the same degree as in Uncharted 2, or even the Uncharted comic series. She stole the show in both of those with her bravado, charisma, badassness, and the way she owned her sexuality, but most of that is missing here. True, her relationship with Nate was the driving force for a lot of that, and she has a very different partnership with Nadine, but there’s nothing to fill the void.
For her part, Nadine’s showed a lot more character in the first few hours of The Lost Legacy than she did in the entirety of Uncharted 4. She’s a stoic, no-nonsense soldier, but she’s starting to open up a bit and show some personality and humanity, which is a welcome change. However, as fantastic as Laura Bailey is, I’m still not convinced that she was the right pick for the character (and she still can’t pull off a convincing South African accent).
The other big change in The Lost Legacy is the structure of the game, which moves away from the Uncharted usual linearity to some extent. It still has the set-pieces and narrow, guided segments that the series is known for, but a big chunk of what I’ve seen so far plays out in a sort of open-world structure. After the introductory sequence introduces key players and the heroes’ goal (the Tusk of Ganesh), you’re whisked away to a big section of the game that you can freely roam, with the task of exploring three temples to find clues.
You can approach them in whichever order you please, and though this doesn’t affect the story in any way, it injects a sense of adventure that’s a perfect tonal fit for Uncharted. Instead of just following the path laid out before you, you get to explore and search for what you’re looking for, and take control at least a little bit of control of the direction. You can also just explore, enjoy the scenery, and go off the beaten track in search of treasure, locked crates filled with loot, and ancient tokens that unlock a special door in an optional temple should you find them all.
It’s not as big or task-filled as your typical open-world game, but I’m grateful for that. I actually don’t mind the linearity of Uncharted as much as many people seem to, and I often find open-world games bloated and tedious. The Lost Legacy strikes a fine balance – big enough to allow that freedom and exploration, but without becoming overwhelming or tiresome, and with a handful of miscellaneous tasks but not so many that they undermine the story or its pacing.
I don’t know how much of the game in total takes place here, or if there are other open areas like this, but I do know that I’ve enjoyed actually playing the game a lot more than I have any other Uncharted game. This is a series that I’m interested in almost solely for its characters, world, and stories, so for the experience of play to be a highlight for me is an achievement.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the game has in store. Hopefully time will let the kinks in the story iron out, let the relationship between the heroes develop, and give Nadine in a particular a chance to come into her own. At the very least, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy gives you nice slice of jungle to explore, treasures to find, and plenty of gorgeous sights to make you channel Sully – the way Chloe does at one point – and say “Well I’ll be go to hell!”
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It launches on August 23 for PlayStation 4.
A press copy was supplied by the publisher for this review.