The Uncharted series, deciding to celebrate its ten year anniversary with a new game not featuring its main hero after what seemed like a definitive final chapter in A Thief's End, seemed like an odd one. You may wonder what the point is, but fans of the series will know that the cast that has supported Nathan Drake is amazing, full of rich, complex characters who all feel very human.
It was great to get to see Chloe Frazer again after her surprising absence from Uncharted 4, and for the most part, she hasn't changed. She's still got that awfully dry sense of humour and rather ambiguous moral compass. One element of The Lost Legacy I particularly liked was that we managed to get a better look into Chloe's past. We got to see what made her the woman she is today.
The story of her quest to find the legendary Tusk of Ganesh is a personal one; a legacy passed on from her late father who came so close to making the discovery, himself. It was great to see what makes Chloe tick. The journey takes her into the mountainous regions of India as she tries to keep the Tusk from the hands of a ruthless war profiteer, Asav.
Despite his seemingly harmless exterior (could be to do with the glasses, notes Nadine), he is maniacal, narcissistic ,and incredibly violent; obsessed with cleansing the "weak" Indian bloodline due to the young king being merciful with his enemies. He's by far the most physically challenging antagonist in the series so far, capable of simultaneously holding off both Chloe and Nadine, who herself easily dispatched Nate on more than one occasion.
While entertaining and at times scary to watch, Asav is a fairly safe, "by the books" villain in the world of Uncharted. He shares a lot of similarities with past bad guys, particularly Lazarević from Among Thieves, including, but not limited to, the personal army, obsessive and violent behaviour.
Pairing Chloe with Uncharted 4 bad girl Nadine Ross was a genius decision from Naughty Dog, as they're both badass female characters in their own right. They couldn't be more different; they're like chalk and cheese. Chloe is more graceful, sexy, and prefers to finesse her way around a situation. Nadine, on the other hand, would rather plough straight through the situation. Sometimes quite literally, after smashing a window to unlock a door that Chloe was taking too long to lockpick.
It's great fun to see these two strong, beautiful women at odds with each others' way of work, and how their differing approaches slowly start to compliment each other.
Initially, their relationship is fractious and business focused, as they've both had their dealings with the Drake brothers in the past. As the game progresses, they come to respect and even trust one another. It isn't plain-sailing by any means, but the relationship unfolds meaningfully and doesn't feel at odds with either of them.
The gameplay in The Lost Legacy is exactly what fans have come to expect from the Uncharted series, coupled with some neat additions that were introduced in A Thief's End. The jeep and the grappling hook both make a prominent return here and serve as great alternatives to reaching new areas in comparison to strictly climbing. One welcome new mechanic is Chloe's ability to use silencers on pistols, making stealth much more viable and rewarding than in previous entries to the series.
Thankfully, the enemy AI is more than competent, so when they discover a body, they'll pan out and scan the area for you, deviating from their set routes. It makes encounters much more tactical and fun, especially on the harder difficulties where they spot you much faster. Gunfights are as slick as ever, the fast pace coupled with excellent physics makes each and every engagement a heart-pumping moment.
The graphics in this game are astounding, as they have been in each game at its time of release. There are some truly jaw-dropping vistas to behold in the campaigns' seven-hour run-time. Every new vantage point offers a breath-taking view, and the detail in the character models and objects around them is ridiculous. Clothes get wet and dirty, hair gets ruffled and sticks to wet/sweaty bodies, cuts and bruises remain. The eye for detail is insane, right down the individual characters' skin blemishes and the colouring in the irises. They're almost too human at times, and an unassuming relative wouldn't be wrong for thinking you're watching a new Hollywood blockbuster. It looks just like one and plays like one, too (the explosions are also very pretty).
Uncharted is a series known for its high-octane action and over-the-top set pieces, and The Lost Legacy is no different. When it gets going, the action is loud and you just have to hold on for dear life, hoping you'll make it through to the next chapter.
While the big setpieces in TLL are in no way bad, they are things we've seen in the series before. Most notably the train sequence, which is derived from the best mission in Uncharted 2 and inarguably one of the greatest levels in the history of gaming. It feels like they're celebrating what makes Uncharted so great, and they do it well, don't get me wrong, but on the other hand, it can feel a little self-indulgent while not letting Chloe get to have a truly unique adventure. But this is merely small nit-picking at an incredibly fun game.
To conclude, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a brilliant expansion of a phenomenal series. It does lean a little on the franchises' past with regards to the action, and the villain is a bit cookie-cutter, but it retains all of the values of what makes an Uncharted game great.
It triumphs in its story and the relationships of the two main leads, proving that Nathan Drake doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting for the series to shine. Chloe's adventure ranks among the best of the series, and it's only left me wanting to go and find more treasure. With any luck, Naughty Dog is now looking at possibilities of what other great characters can take their turn in the spotlight.