January 4, 2019 at 12:00 AM #899
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Rating: 3.5 – Good
A pretty good imitation of your regularly scheduled Uncharted
Uncharted 4 ended pretty definitively for our hero Nathan Drake. The tone and resolution were such that more stories in his world seemed unlikely at best. So Lost Legacy was a bit of a surprise. Announced as part of the Uncharted 4 DLC plan, Lost Legacy has shaped up into a standalone game built on the Uncharted 4 engine, but swerves in a pretty dramatic way, there’s no Nathan Drake. Instead, the game stars oddly missing from Uncharted 4 Chloe Frazer and secondary antagonist from Uncharted 4 Nadine Ross. The big question it has to answer? Can an Uncharted game hold up without its star?
Yeah pretty much. Not to spoil the ending, but Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is pretty much another Uncharted game. It plays like one; it looks like one; it lasts about as long as one (except for the bloated Uncharted 4). There’s only really two small concessions made; the star and the scope. Instead of our old pal Nathan we get the dark haired accented beauty Lar….I mean, Chloe Frazer, a love interest from Uncharted 2 and friend from Uncharted 3 who disappeared for Uncharted 4. Chloe works very well as a protagonist for the same reason she worked well as a love interest for Nate, she’s a similar type. She’s a roguish witty adventurer with a good heart underneath. You want to see her succeed and you laugh along with her because you like her. This carries so much of the game. Uncharted is built upon Nathan Drake’s charisma, an assumption you’ll be forgiving of his mass killing because he means well and is a nice guy. You feel bad for his tragic backstory and feel attached because he makes you laugh. And Chloe does all these things as well. Plus, since she was missing from Uncharted 4, seeing her return is a welcome addition.
I can’t say I was as pleased to see her partner again. The reaction to Nadine has always surprised me. Nadine is the ruthless amoral no-nonsense murderer that assists the primary villain of Uncharted 4. I was quite upset she escaped unscathed from Uncharted 4, and seeing her again not to finish the job but instead to work with her elicited a reaction of disdain from me. They do little to rehab her character here. She’s still the same no nonsense killer from before, and while she helps you out and is nice enough to our protagonist, that just proves she’s not a terrible person to people she works with. And the weird part is that the game barely even tries to address this baggage that she carries. She’s not a good person. She advocates for the murder of Nathan Drake regularly in Uncharted 4 and is in the business of running a mercenary company that, over the course of Uncharted 4, causes tremendous collateral damage with nary an objection. So I don’t want to see her succeed, I don’t even want to see her survive, and her presence is a constant drag on the story for me. I would have loved to see some other character return, possibly Uncharted 3’s surprisingly good Cutter. Or a new character. She at least has a good rapport with Chloe and you can see how their relationship works for the most part, but a few times in the story she acts put upon like nothing is her fault and it just brought back all of the negative feelings I had for her since Uncharted 4.
Scope-wise the concessions made are small. But unlike the previous three entries in the series with their globe trotting adventures Chloe and Nadine are restricted to just India. While there are still several great set pieces that are fun to play, they are also largely transplanted in from previous Uncharted games. This isn’t much of a knock, though, since they were great sequences originally and experiencing a slightly different version of them is still quite fun. Things are smaller, yes, but it’s still almost equal to the first Uncharted game, and that’s not bad.
Gameplay is lifted almost unchanged from Uncharted 4. You still usually get an opportunity to sneak around before engaging in open combat. The enemies are about that durable and the shooting feels the same. Same weapons, same inventory, same hook, piton, and driving mechanics. They make a reference to the 8000 crate puzzles in Uncharted 4 but quickly ditch that mechanic entirely. Still, there are no surprises here. You explore some ruins, solve some puzzles, shoot some dudes, and climb some walls. None of it really feels that great, honestly, and each time it appears it perhaps wears out its welcome a little more. Uncharted 4 had the most refined gameplay of the series. The BEST gameplay of the series, so aping it here was the right thing to do, but that’s still not that impressive because it’s just not that good. The shooting feels imprecise, the enemies a little too durable, the encounters a little too cheap. They seem to have realized its kind of lame as well, since there are not only fewer forced open firefights than before (meaning you almost always have a chance to thin them out or kill them all from stealth) but the game autosaves in the middle of those firefights regularly. Kill four guys and die? Eh, it’s ok, you’ll come back and at least three of them will still be dead and they won’t even have your position yet when you start, meaning you can go back to stealth killing. It works as a solution to their mediocre fire-fights, but suggests that they know those firefights are mediocre and so kind of begs the question as to why they didn’t fix them more. Climbing is neither free enough that completing a section feels like an accomplishment nor controlled enough that you can just enjoy the spectacle but instead lives in a middle ground where it’s just not fun to do. The puzzles are well done enough, though I think they reuse that ring puzzle about two too many times. It’s not terrible, none of it is terrible, but none of it is that good.
Uncharted instead relies on its movie like feel and presentation to carry it through, and, well, it succeeds. It’s a fun couple of days adventuring with Chole and friends with awesome set pieces, good character moments, and some fun action. Lost Legacy isn’t as good in any of these areas as its predecessors, but it’s still good enough at them to have a good time. I’m glad I played it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever play it again. It very much seems like the kind of game you rent for a weekend and take back satisfied. That’s my recommendation. Rent it, beat it, take it back, and you’ll come away happy with a fun adventure.
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