Being honest, this game had sat on my pile of games for three weeks now after picking it up just one week after it released. Despite the fact I loved Uncharted 4 and truly adored playing the Uncharted for the very first time with the Nathan Drake Collection, there was just something about this spin-off that failed to entice me to instantly install and play. Not really sure why that was, perhaps it was the fact it was originally planned as DLC before being made a standalone spin off close to full game price or maybe it was just the fact that it would be the first Uncharted outing without Nathan Drake as the lead hero. Whatever my subconscious reasoning was, I finally fired the game up this past weekend and happily I can report, not only did it blow my mind with how good it actually was but it also never made me wonder why Nathan was not in the game. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is indeed a treasure worthy of discovery.
Now I never had any doubts about the choice to have Chloe Frazer as the main character, I really liked her presence in Uncharted 2 and 3, serving as both a love interest and a superb character for Nathan to bounce off. Chloe is a strong female character, a thief and treasure hunter and more than a match for Nathan in terms of skill, knowledge and sharp wits. Voiced by the excellent Claudia Black, Chloe Frazer is the perfect character to focus a potential spin off series on and The Lost Legacy if nothing else, is truly a great test run to see how the fan-base of Uncharted or possible new fans would take to having the series come very close to the Lara Croft of Tomb Raider more than ever before.
So where do we find Chloe in The Lost Legacy? Well unsurprisingly, we find Chloe up to no good and causing mischief in her homeland of India, keeping tabs on some mercenary soldiers in an Indian marketplace in a city overrun with soldiers. Her goal in this opening section is to track down a Disc currently in the possession of a nasty piece of work called Asav. Of course the ultimate goal for Chloe is a rare ancient artefact called ‘The Tusk of Ganesh’ and naturally it is all for profit but Chloe is wise enough to know that this is not a one woman job and has hired the services of Nadine Ross, world renowned mercenary and fan of punching the Drake brothers in the face multiple times. With the collapse of Shoreline, her company of soldiers for hire, Nadine is looking to rebuild and reclaim her former position which will require money. So the unlikely partnership of a treasure hunter and soldier for hire is born and the adventure begins.
So if you have played Uncharted 4 then you are going to recognise some very familiar game mechanics at work here in Lost Legacy. Combat blends both fisticuffs and gunplay with the same tag team fighting style for Chloe and Nadine that Nathan and Sam Drake used in Uncharted 4 which means that in a fight, the AI controlled Nadine will offer assistance if the enemy get to close especially when in a fist fight. Gunplay works the same way with Chloe being able to tag enemies and Nadine will also take out enemies as well though this is something I will come back to a little later on in terms of the partner AI quality.
Stealth is also back with the ability to take cover and to hide in tall grass to allow both Chloe and Nadine to move around a location and take enemies out without alerting others but with the nice touch that if you take out an enemy in a way that will leave their body in open view, other enemies can spot the body and be alerted to something going on. The problem for me is that should you fail or just break from stealth and the enemy does become fully alerted to your presence then all hell will break loose and all the enemy will come searching for you, which can be rather annoying to be in a fire fight with multiple soldiers only for one cheeky shotgun wielding git to get the drop on you. Gunplay is fun with different weapons plus Chloe’s ability to pick locks allowing her to loot enemy weapon crates to find some very powerful guns indeed when needed.
Vehicle use also returns in some very nice set-pieces when the action really ramps up towards the finale to the game. The middle chapter in the story also features Chloe and Nadine using a jeep to explore a region reusing the winch to tear down doors mechanic from Uncharted 4 with the highlight being the in car conversations between Nadine and Chloe as they just shoot the breeze between stops and they do have some very witty dialogue exchanges throughout the game and not just in the car sequences but overall you really get the sense just from their chats that both women are on equal terms even if their ultimate desires for the Tusk sometimes do not align.
The story is great fun and players get to learn more about the past of both characters but especially Chloe who has a very similar upbringing to Lara Croft, albeit without the money and titles. Chloe constantly refers back to her own father, a treasure hunter in his own right which cost Chloe her childhood with his own obsession to find the Tusk of Ganesh costing him his life and forcing her and her mother to flee to Australia, something which Chloe tries to dismiss but it clearly still has a hold on her emotionally. The greatest strength for me is in the voice acting here, Claudia Black delivers an outstanding performance as Chloe bringing so many sides to her character to the surface so that if indeed she is to become the new main character for an Uncharted spin off, something that the Lost Legacy completely sets up by the way, it would not be a horrible thing. The writing and story telling is so well handled for this mini spin off that at no time did it feel strange to not be in control of Nathan Drake and nor did I dare say, miss Nathan.
Visually I would even say that Lost Legacy is slightly better looking than Uncharted 4, with some obvious refinements to the lighting engine that make the locations found in the game simply stunning to experience. I literally found myself stopping just to take in all the imagery of each new location it was that beautiful to see on my TV that making use of the Photo Mode became second nature. The design of each location is spot on for puzzle solving which can be head scratching to begin with but most of the puzzles simply require a little bit of time and common sense to solve without being a complete walk in the park. Complimented by a beautiful soundtrack and audio effects, just everything so far showcases how effortlessly the team up of Chloe and Nadine could transfer into their own fully fledged out series going forward.
But it certainly has some niggles such as the partner AI which at times is just ridiculous and even game breaking at moments. When in stealth and Chloe in a nice hiding spot, the partner AI will often just start moving about to find a spot near you even if it means being in complete view of the enemy. In the section where you are using the jeep to explore, when approaching a location full of enemies and leaving the jeep in a secure spot, as soon as I got into a good cover spot as Chloe I would come to hear the guards spotting the jeep because Nadine had decided to drive it to a new location right in the view of the enemy raising the alarm and triggering a fire fight then and there. In the later stages of the game this almost become comical as my AI partner would literally creep alongside an enemy soldier at times without the enemy spotting it but to literally have your AI controlled partner just going off and running about is funny but very annoying when it blows your cover.
Next is the length which from starting menu to very end of the credits played on Moderate difficulty came in at 7hrs 30 minutes. This length is not criminal by any means but it does bring me back to my original hesitation about this being a stand alone release instead of the originally planned just DLC for Uncharted 4. Now there is some replay value with trying to find all the collectibles and higher difficulties and it also has all the MP modes from Uncharted 4 including the Survival mode, but for the asking price of £30, what there is of The Lost Legacy probably doesn’t make it acceptable at that price point for me unless you enjoyed the UC4 MP modes.
I thoroughly enjoyed Uncharted: The Lost Legacy far more than I had expected too and do kind of wish I had broken the seal on the box and played it sooner. The story is spot on with some terrific moments with the voice cast just phenomenal which is to be expected from Naughty Dog and their choice of actors. The gameplay has much of what made me fall in love with this gaming series to begin with but also does the extra mile to make sure it is not just a copy and paste or reskinned version of Nathan Drake in action. Chloe is an outstanding main hero and very well complimented by Nadine that as I said above, they could easily be the focus of a full blown game and a true spin off series which I hope Naughty Dog follow up with once they have finished that little unknown game ‘The Last of Us Two’.
I am sure the world has plenty of ancient treasures to find and enemies to defeat and right now, I cannot think of two better heroes to go on that adventure than Chloe and Nadine.