A very few, select series have been inextricably tied to the PlayStation, and have become iconic for the brand: God of War, Crash Bandicoot (in the early days), Gran Turismo, Jak and Daxter, and so on.
The Uncharted franchise inarguably belongs on this list. There have already been four entries in the main series, along with a handful of secondary titles, and it’s hard to believe that the first one came out all the way back in 2007. It’s truly remarkable that the Naughty Dog team (who also developed Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, of course) could have been making these games for a decade, and yet still come up with something that feels as fresh as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
Fans of Nathan Drake, be warned: this is the first game which does not feature Uncharted’s square-jawed icon. Into his shoes steps Chloe Frazer, who will be familiar to players of the second and third titles in the series.
Chloe – who was previously romantically involved with Drake – has been a fan-favourite for years, in large part due to her strength of character and her genuinely funny wisecracks. Also along for the ride is Nadine Ross – one of Drake’s former enemies – with whom Chloe does not exactly see eye to eye, to say the very least.
The plot focuses on the quest for the Tusk of Ganesh. Our two bickering protagonists are racing through India to claim the Hindu relic, before it falls into the hands of a villainous war profiteer.
Well, that’s the story, but… in truth, you don’t have to worry too much about it. Because really, that fairly simple premise is only an excuse to wheel out the classic Uncharted action that you’ve grown to know and love.
As I mentioned in my introduction, even though the basics of that action haven’t changed much over the years, it still feels just as fresh – and, crucially, enjoyable – as ever before. There are an endless army of no-name goons for you to combat, using a pleasingly varied range of weapons. There are puzzles to solve, which are well thought out. And, when you’re daringly sprinting, jumping and swinging across the environments, you’ll forget you were ever away from the Uncharted series.
A note on the aforementioned environments: they are utterly, drop-dead gorgeous. Good-looking views are nothing new to the Uncharted games, of course, but – particularly due to its picture-perfect lighting – this game seems to step it up another level (which is saying something). Barely a minute will go by without tapping the ‘Share’ button on your controller to take a screenshot.
The only shame of it is that the environments aren’t more varied. The entire game takes place in India, with the settings being the same general archetypes that you’ve seen in other entries in the series; a lot of ruined temples, basically. Still, would you want anything dramatically different from an Uncharted game, really?
As the game progresses, you begin to appreciate Naughty Dog’s incredible development skills more and more. At the front and centre of the experience, they placed two people who, earlier in the series, were essentially a sidekick and a dislikable villain. And, somehow, as the plot progresses and the pair triumph through a range of adversities, you do begin to feel a strong affinity towards each of them. Their amusing interplay is expertly mixed with moments of emotional exposure, as we learn about each of their backstories, and by extension their motivations. The classic Uncharted adventuring exploits are as thoroughly enjoyable as ever, but the thing you’ll really remember about this game is the development of the two main characters.
My only complaint? Well, that there’s not more of it, of course! It isn’t exactly brief, with the story taking around 10 hours to complete, but it’s still a little frustrating when you know that’s all the Uncharted action you’re going to get for a while! Still, it’s definitely better to leave fans wanting more than to ruin a great franchise through over-exposure; and, in addition, the relative brevity of the game is factored into the retail price: around £25, at the time of writing.
Add it all together, and this is another unequivocally successful entry into the Uncharted series.