Bringing back excitement and adventure, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is an excellent addition to the franchise.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was an event. It’s still one of only a handful of games that I’ve seen an advertisement for before a movie. And Uncharted 4 certainly was a success, selling 8.7 million copies to date, according to Wikipedia. Another cursory search indicates that Uncharted 4 won the most Game of the Year awards from assorted publications for the year 2016. Needless to say, Sony was probably pretty happy about Uncharted 4.
Its stand-alone expansion, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, manages to solve essentially all the various complaints I had with its previous outing. Gone is the tonal half-step in between classic Uncharted and Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley’s The Last of Us. Gone is the muddled opening that makes it difficult to understand character motivation. In its place lies an exciting treasure hunting adventure driven by a set of fantastic characters.
Uncharted 2’s charming anti-hero Chloe Frazer is a more-than-capable leading lady to branch out from Nathan Drake with, and lead she certainly does. She manages to straddle the line between emotional core of the story and plucky rogue far better than Nathan Drake ever did, providing multiple touching moments as her backstory is unfolded mixed with her trademark dry wit through the various ridiculous situations. Her interactions with the various supporting and opposing cast even manage to make even the weakest Uncharted 4 characters likable.
Specifically, Chloe manages to boost South African mercenary and “Lady who seemed to only exist to have a mercenary group for the other villain to buy out from under her,” Nadine Ross into a much more compelling character. Her scant appearances in the last game only gave her about as much personality as past games’ paramilitary-esque mercenary antagonists, so the idea of giving her a lead supporting role seemed shaky at best. Luckily, The Lost Legacy’s writers managed to draw blood from the stone, giving her a genuinely fun, at times heartfelt, arc through the game.
Every Indiana needs their Major Toht, and Asav, the game’s villain, manages to bring a never-before-seen level of menace to the Uncharted franchise. Past villains, be they of the upper-class and military dragon variety, or the militaristic warlord variety, all seemed to have the primary motivation of good old, straight-up greed. Either via debts owed to them by other characters, seeking treasures to provide them with eternal life, or simply wanting to grab out for fame, villains were never more than one-note obstacles meant to provide stumbling blocks.
Asav’s calm demeanor and unassuming appearance belies a vicious fanaticism that makes him a genuinely unsettling figure that steals each scene he appears in. Every time he appeared, I felt a legitimate dread at what his next action might be, and generally that dread was well founded. His machinations provide a level of urgency rarely seen in this genre, as, despite the game being as tightly scripted as ever, competing with Asav to uncover the titular Lost Legacy felt like a legitimate race against time.
If it seems like the bulk of this review was focused on characters, it’s because the gameplay is incredibly similar to Uncharted 4. The rope swing and piton mechanics are still around, the bulk of the game takes place in a similarly wide open area as the Madagascar level in the last game, there aren’t really any reinventions of the wheel there. But again, given that mechanics was not the problem with Uncharted 4, it’s really not a complaint.
Also the Uncharted 4 multiplayer is here again, if you’re into that. It's alright.
Any complaints I may have, such as a relatively short length or again drawing too much on past games for inspiration are mitigated simply by how much damn fun I had going on another treasure hunt. I mean, one of the two directors, Shaun Escayg, was one of the co-directors of modern masterpiece 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. That game knew how to have a great time, and if given the choice between a game like this, or one like Uncharted 4, I’d take this every time.