Need that Uncharted fix? Have visions of climbing over jungle ruins while shooting bad guys from the top of a stone deity as you dodge bazooka fire and try to unlock an ancient hidden door puzzle lock? Ooo, you got the Uncharted needs bad then. So, is Uncharted: The Lost Legacy worth buying?
Genre: Third Person Shooter, Action, Adventure
Developer: Naughty Dog Studios
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: 22 Aug, 2017
Is it just DLC, or a game?
The new Uncharted game comes out without Nathan Drake and you are wondering if it’s worth picking up, right? On the surface, it does sort of like like DLC stretched out into a game. So, you are hesitant to spend your well earned dollars on another Uncharted game without old man Drake at the helm. Or maybe, just maybe, you aren’t sure if the new characters are annoying or not.
We start off in India with our main character, Chloe Frazer, as the star treasure hunter. It’s not a complex storyline here. Chloe is after a sacred artifact and goes through crazy adventures trying to get it for a big payday with a bad guy trying to beat her to the treasure. That’s essentially every Uncharted game ever made. The mold hasn’t been broken. There are a nice variety of jungles, ancient Indian ruins, and exciting shoot outs. It’s classic Uncharted, with the whole Die Hard/Mission Impossible sort of movie magic action you would expect. How does it compare? Honestly, about the same as before. I wouldn’t say it exceeds any of the Uncharted games except maybe the first one, but it fits in snugly with the lineup of those titles. Don’t expect anything more or anything less, it’s Uncharted through and through from the fiddly puzzles to the ledge grabbing shootouts. It’s fun and doesn’t get boring if you like Uncharted already. I can’t give any more details about the story as that would spoil things, but suffice it to say that the jungle thrillride has ebbs and flows very much like the previous games. It’s all contained within India and gives you excellent locales that are in the city, country, temple ruins, jungle, and even underwater with the action that you are expecting. The main difference here is the storyline dealing with the characters.
Now, back to Chloe. She is a lot of things, not just a female Nathan Drake, and she is perhaps even more tenacious and scrupulous than our usual male protagonist. I like her and she is easy to like. You’ve probably seen the trailer of her making her way across the back alleys of a war-torn India as she heads towards an ominous red door. And yet, it’s even more dangerous than just a regular wartime background. Very early on, you are reminded that a female character not only gets accosted more easily by men, but is also hardly respected at all by the soldiers. Her main antagonist, Asav, makes this abundantly clear as he throws insult after insult as if Chloe should not even consider trying to go against him because she is somehow beneath him. This is something that comes up repeatedly despite the fact that she is a badass. And you know what? It’s very fitting that this game came out in 2017. With most of that year being terrible for almost everyone, one of the good things to happen was the #Metoo movement. The vocal outcry against men taking advantage of, disrespecting, and outright attacking women came to a global head. Chloe is more than girl power in a video game, she’s an assertive stance that proves gender should never be an issue with game characters. At first, I thought she was just another overly masculine female heroine that is all too often portrayed in games when a female hero is needed. Instead, I found a woman with determination in the face of her detractors. A woman who doesn’t try to be a man with long hair. She’s just herself. Even in fictional video game worlds, that says a lot.
There is also a second character named Nadine Ross, an South African ex-mercenary who previously fell in with our new enemy, Asav. She’s also a former antagonist from Uncharted 4, which is slightly awkward once Sam Drake comes into the game. Nadine is gruff and to the point, never holding back insults or jabs at Chloe. Nadine and Chloe start out pretty much disliking each other and kept together solely through monetary motivations. It takes a really long while before they start to like each other. So, this anti-chemistry is very interesting. I mean, Naughty Dog seriously didn’t make this a buddy-movie style game in the least. It’s not Thelma and Louisa either. You begin the game with two women who can’t stand being together. In a way, it sort of makes sense. A buddy-movie game would be so droll and two girls just romping through Uncharted taking names and shooting the place to hell would also be a complete bore if there wasn’t an underlying tension fermenting between them. It gives the story some kick. The only thing is, watching them argue and piss each other off doesn’t make for a wonderful gaming experience. I get enough of that at home. I suppose it’s just the way it has to be to keep that dynamic going while they slowly, as expected, become friends in the end. If they didn’t become friends at the end, I think folks would cry foul, but I can live with the cheesy “you saw it coming” friendship. The fun bit is the journey they undertake because what is Uncharted if not cinematic?
Sam Drake’s character appears very briefly in the game, and comes off as a putz for the most part. He’s also a reminder that this is a Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross game, not a Drake game because he generally needs more help just to move around than the women do. I don’t think his addition ultimately contributes much to the story, but it certainly adds another body for cover when you need it. The only thing I can think of is that his inclusion connects the dots a bit more in the storyline and breaks up the gameplay in ways that give it variety.
Okay, so here is the part where I get to say that this game is NOT just DLC stretched thin. It’s sort of the opposite. It feels like DLC filled to the brim with locations, shootouts, puzzles, and story. No wonder they made it a separate game. I honestly thought I could finish it in a day with a rental, but that was not the case at all. I ended up buying the game in order to finish it and I have to say it’s a full length game in it’s own right. Don’t go in thinking you’ll get 8 hrs out of it and call it a day. While nowhere near Uncharted 4 playtimes, I’d give it about 12-15 hours depending if you like to treasure hunt and find secrets like I do. Also, there is a multiplayer option with Uncharted 4 owner’s, which is nice if you like to play that.
Most folks are familiar with the third person shooter style that has instant heals behind cover and easy weapon pickups while moving on. It’s not a difficult way to play and I do think it would have been nice to add some upgrade options or leveling up, but then again it would not be Uncharted if it did that. Uncharted is about the crazy movie-style action with a pick up and shoot ease of play. I mean, it’s just plain fun to climb to a ledge and shoot a guy while holding yourself there for cover. While not a sublime shooter by any means, it’s got movie theater popcorn thrills galore.
There is one single ultra-collectable upgrade that you can get in the incredibly long and fun to play level on the Western Ghats. This level is larger than some open world games and frankly is simply immense in it’s size and detail with a multitude of jungle environments that end up being a character in and of itself. Here, there are several treasures you can discover, and if you unlock them all, there is a hidden temple where you can receive a glowing red bracelet for your trouble. This red bracelet gives a small sound every time you come near a treasure item, and it’s a collectathon gamer’s little helper. Granted, half the time it went off I could not locate anything nearby easily, but still…it’s glowy and the only upgrade in the whole game. Finding all the collectibles in the Western Ghats is no small task, with a varied assortment of puzzles, timed movements, and rapid pace jungle swinging with gunfire that truly make the game Uncharted all in it’s own. Loved every minute of it.
Along with that, there are temples with puzzles that are not super easy. A few of them look hard with sword wielding statues that swing at you as you platform to a door, but the shadow puzzles really gave me a run for my money. I’d have to say that they are honestly harder than Uncharted 4 puzzles. It’s no lie, this game is the real deal.
Combat is per the usual. I was playing on the Normal setting and had no issues dispatching with the hordes of soldiers, snipers, and bazooka shooters. Towards the end, this really heats up with a level that includes a helicopter. I think that was when I finally got a bit overwhelmed as I would die several times despite my best efforts. It’s not impossible by any means, but right there at about the 75% mark you have a hell of a good gunfight.
As expected, you mostly pick up guns as you kill the baddies. There are some locks to be picked and in the best of scenarios for tension and adrenaline, you’ll be picking locks under fire with no guns and hoping for a bazooka to kill with. Unless, of course, you missed when shooting the bazooka and ran out of missiles. Then you have to throw some C4 and hope for the best. It was tight and well wound. Don’t expect it to be incredibly hard unless you up the ante by playing on the harder difficulty settings.
Nadine’s AI is great, helping when I really needed it and rarely getting in the way. The enemy AI varies depending on the difficulty and does a good job of trying to keep me from finishing the game. I had no issues with camera angles either, and never once got stuck on geometry. The jeep is sort of funny as it’s nigh indestructible, but it’s a complete blast to drive even if you are terrible at driving in games.
Naughty Dog does not disappoint. The game world is literally alive with color and detail. Few games look this good and still play smoothly. It’s a poster child for what the PS4 can do, even better on PS4 Pro with an HDR 4K TV from what I hear. The vegetation around me moved as I passed as if it were real, mud tracks splattered, waterfalls boomed and sprayed water everywhere, it’s just a feast for the eyes. You are in a movie when you play this game, it’s just one of the fun experiences you have to try at least once in your life, even if the gameplay is a bit too easy to pick up and play.
The music always informed me of what to do, how to react, and revealing the current scene perfectly. I don’t think they could have done any better if they tried, it’s all encompassing sonically and visually. There is a very high bar set here that only a handful of studios can compete against.
Character models are spot on and show such breadth of emotion and feeling that it is a benchmark in the industry. Expect to see human emotion like few games can capture, especially on Chloe’s face during cut scenes. I really think the only thing that detracts from it, for me anyway, is that it is Uncharted and not a game that is more complex and harder to play. It feels like all this movie magic should be saved for more intricate games, but alas that is seldom the case. Still, the story, graphics, sound, and characters never disappoint.
So, should you buy it? I’d say it’s mostly worth the $39.99 asking price, but if it were me I’d wait until it’s $20 or so. I don’t feel like this game will end up being free on PS+ anytime soon, and the price tends to hover around $20 lately on sale with spikes up to $35 at times on Amazon. The game length is reasonable and on par with many other games. The only thing is the lack of replay value. I’d be hard pressed to play it again anytime soon. So, a sale purchase is fine for collectors or “buy and trade” for those like myself who go through PS4 games regularly. Rentals won’t likely cut it unless you have 12-15 hrs of solid game time to play. For those with a busy schedule, it’s a game you can enjoy yourself with and complete in a week or two of casual playing 1-2 hours at a time. The puzzles are well done while not being overly difficult and the action scenes are worth the price of admission. The characters do take some getting used to, but Chloe and Nadine work well together, and once the ice melts between them it’s great. And you know what? This whole game is about character relationships and developing a trust not just in others, but in yourself . How often does that happen in an action platformer shooter? It’s very nice to see a good addition like this to the franchise. Let’s hope the next one is even bigger and better.