REVIEW – Without an inch of fear or hesitation, Naughty Dog recycles Uncharted 4 gameplay elements to offer another round of more of the same, but more of the same is a lot when we talk about Naughty Dog! Indeed, Uncharted: Lost Legacy standalone DLC has the same level of epic action, awesome vistas, memorable characters and professional storytelling, as any other episode of this highly successful action-adventure series. Yes, even without Nathan Drake…
I was shooting, brawling, jumping, climbing with Chloe Frazer, accompanied by Nadine Ross during my ten hours or so of my gameplay with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and not a second did I miss good old Nathan Drake. Indeed, Chloe Frazer is such a charismatic, yet, lovable and sensible character, that I have grown fond of her (and not only for the fact, that she has a great ass, as Nathan Drake couldn’t restrain himself to mention.). Indeed, you’ll grow to love this unlikely pair, and it’s not a small feat in itself for Naughty Dog’s team, who recycled the same gameplay elements which made the series great. In spite of that fact, I didn’t felt this DLC a cheap repetition either. I’ll explain, why…
According to the story, we are soon after the events of Uncharted 4, series veteran Chloe Frazer negotiates a partnership with Nadine Ross to recover an ancient Indian artifact called the Tusk of Ganesh. Unfortunately for them, a ruthless war con man named Asav is seeking the same prize and will stop at nothing to obtain it for his self-righteous reasons.
The basic story feels recycled as well, but what makes it still apart is the very strong choice of the lead characters. Indeed, the banter and chemistry between the two leads are undeniable. Despite being both strong female heroines, they are also different in personality and skills as well. Nadine has an extensive military background and prefers a direct approach to most combat scenarios while Chloe has an intimate knowledge of Indian history and takes point on navigation and exploration. As the expertly crafted story progress, we will learn more about each character’s backstory and their own motivations in their pursuit of the Tusk. Despite not having nearly as much screen time compared to Nathan Drake, Chloe and Nadine have more than enough charisma to carry on the adventure.
The art of war
While the combat is nearly identical to Uncharted 4, there are still subtle additions and refinements there as well, which makes the experience even better. First, we have a handful of additional weapons at our disposal. Silenced pistols open up new opportunities for stealth (it was a sorely missing weapon from all five Uncharted games – including the PS Vita title, Golden Abyss), and veterans of multiplayer will recognize additions that have carried over from that arsenal.
Encounters are still fast-paced and encourage frequent repositioning – perhaps even more so, than in Uncharted 4. Snipers attempt to pick you off from a distance, while shotgunners periodically advance on your position to keep camping to a minimum. It also has to be mentioned that the AI feels a bit more refined this time around, as the enemy is hiding a bit more, they call for their buddies more often, and they also investigate the cause of their fallen comrades.
The rope hook is back, and it has an even more important role as it can be used to traverse long distances for defensive or offensive strategies quickly. You can also hide in the long grass to take advantage of unsuspecting foes, sadly, we cannot lure enemies to our position and attack them from the grass, like in Shadow of Mordor – perhaps this was the only small weaker feature of the game.
Additionally, Nadine can assist with melee attacks that feel as good as they look, and she also regularly takes out enemies using guns on her own. She’s very competent as far as fellow AI goes, perhaps she’s better, then any Nathan Drake’s any AI friends so far in the Uncharted series.
While there are a few breathtaking set-piece encounters, many of the combat scenarios play out like small arena fights due to the lack of environmental variety. The ancient ruined structures only offer a limited number of strategic possibilities, contributing to a slight sense of repetition when blasting away mercenaries.
“That is very puzzling, Nadine!”
Puzzles were always a big part of the Uncharted experience – thankfully; Naughty Dog has refined this aspect of the game as well. The Lost Legacy includes numerous puzzles with complex mechanisms to test your mental capacities. During my ten hours of adventure and action, a few sections had genuine head-scratchers, but they never become frustrating. In these quiet minutes, we also have more dialogue between the two lead characters, which results in a consistent pace and ambiance even when having trouble with some tricky puzzles.
Besides puzzles, exploration within each area also has increased dramatically – even despite the fact, that the game features fewer locales than the previous games. There are perhaps a bit fewer shortcuts, or different paths, than in Uncharted 4, but there are still some of those. Secret caves and underwater tunnels lead us to optional bits of loot, while hostile outposts can be avoided or attacked. Overthrowing these locations and thoroughly exploring the environment is encouraged and rewarded.
Chloe can also pick the locks on the storage boxes that usually contain powerful weapons and treasures. The precious trinkets amass in the form of currency which you can use to unlock character skins, concept art, and gameplay modifiers.
Whether you play The Lost Legacy on PS4 or PS4 Pro, the game is gorgeous. Huge and arresting ancient structures command a powerful presence, truly grounding you in a place that feels as though it’s been there for thousands of years. Some minor details are given equal attention as water and mud accurately stick to characters’ skin and clothes. During the action scenes, Chloe and Nadine both get hurt a lot, and as in Uncharted 4, we see more and more scars and dirt accumulate on their faces and clothes.
The environment is, of course, have the same amount of attention, both on the exotic outdoor areas and the street levels of an Indian city, with latter having neon street signs radiate in the moonlight. 4K HDR is supported and helps further enhance the ambient lighting, especially when transitioning from the bright outdoors into dark caverns.
On the other hand, perhaps the musical experience isn’t as exciting as we expect it from an Uncharted title – a nervous, adrenaline-pumping theme score is especially missing. Don’t get me wrong; I liked The Lost Legacy OST as well, but it lacks a bit of punch compared to Uncharted 4 and older episodes of the series.
Still, the actors giving their voice to the characters did an excellent job once again – Claudia Black has to be mentioned as the suave and sexy voice for Chloe Frazer.
I will survive!
Multiplayer is once again part of the Uncharted experience, and the entire suite of multiplayer modes from Uncharted 4 is present in The Lost Legacy alongside some new skins and other small additions.
The real highlight is the new Survival Arena mode. Up to three players can team up to take on ten dynamically evolving waves of enemies and bosses with unique round modifiers. While it still doesn’t reinvent multiplayer, it somewhat helps inject fresh life into survival mode, especially for players that have already finished the hardest challenges.
8 to 10 hours of gameplay (varying on the difficulty of course) is more than generous for a DLC; it’s the average length of some AAA games nowadays. Besides that fact, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy also embraces the same level of quality that we’ve come to expect from the series. True, there are some repetitive combat encounters which dampen the proceedings, and also the exploration behind the wheel of the jeep feels a bit long, but the emphasis on exploration and puzzles is a refreshing change of pace. Most importantly, Chloe and Nadine exceptionally shine as the game’s lead characters, which contributes to a high-stakes adventure that’s easy to be “lost” in.
+ Memorable, lovable characters in a great story
+ Refined action and adventure set pieces
+ Fantastic graphics
– Some repetition in combat scenes
– The jeep driving part is a bit too long
– Main theme/OST lacks a punch
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release date: Aug 22, 2017