From playing the Crash Bandicoot games as a kid, to being captivated with The Last of Us as an adult, creatively, Naughty Dog’s titles have always piqued my interest. This sentiment also rings true for their fabled Uncharted series. The characters, narratives, and the Indian Jones-esque adventures, were, and still are, right up my alley in terms of aesthetics.
Unfortunately, transitioning to PC meant I would have to miss out on the opportunity to play either of the PS4 releases. However, some 6 years on, Sony has allowed me to rectify this by porting the Legacy of Thieves Collection over to Steam!
For those unaware, Uncharted is a 3rd person, action-adventure series made by the aforementioned Naughty Dog. The bundle that we will be discussing today contains the remastered editions of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and, its stand alone DLC, The Lost Legacy. To put it lightly, both of these games are awesome. And for reasons we will get into, may contain the best content the franchise has ever offered.
Before getting into the review though, I want to touch base on what I’ll be covering here.
The Lost Legacy takes places roughly a year after the conclusion of the main game. Although the stories obviously differ, the gameplay and graphics fundamentally remain the same. As such, to avoid narrative spoilers, the bulk of this review will be dedicated towards Uncharted 4. If I feel the need to point out something relating to The Lost Legacy specifically, then I will do so directly.
A Thief’s End Synopsis.
Set 3 years after the third game, Nathan “Nate” Drake, our charming protagonist, has long since retired from his days as a fortune hunter. Instead, he has settled down with his wife Elena, and now works as a diver for a local salvaging company. Regrettably however, his quiet life isn’t destined to last long.
Sam, Nate’s brother, and someone he previously thought to be dead, reappears out of the blue one day. Although this should’ve been a happy occasion, the pleasantries are cut short when Sam reveals that his life is in immediate danger.
He is being forced to recover Henry Avery’s lost treasure on behalf of the criminal overlord, Hector Alcazar. Knowing he can’t conceivably do this by himself, Sam hopes to recruit Nate on his impossible expedition. Although reluctant at first, Nate eventually agrees to this, and the pair subsequently set off on one final adventure.
A satisfying conclusion to one of the most beloved characters.
Veteran fans of the series may be disappointed to learn that there aren’t any supernatural elements to the narrative. Fortunately, this grounded approach allows a larger emphasis to be placed onto the characters themselves, resulting in their motives, interactions, and relationships feeling more authenticated, and emotionally charged.
This new direction personally cemented A Thief’s End as my favourite in the series. Ergo, I have to give props to the directors, Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, along with their co-writer, Josh Scherr, for having the foresight to go down this route. My only concern with this change is it somewhat relies on the player being familiar with the characters backgrounds. Which, in turn, leads us onto…
Sony… where are the PC ports for Uncharted 1-3?
Unlike PS5 gamers, PC players are faced with a conundrum surrounding this release. That being, why did Sony port this collection to PC, before porting over The Nathan Drake Collection? To answer that, we needn’t look further than the blog post made by Sony themselves.
Now, you may be wondering why we didn’t start with the original Uncharted. We felt that, while Nathan Drake’s first three adventures from the PlayStation 3 console still stand the test of time narratively, they would require a major overhaul visually to stand-up to modern PC releases and the expectations players may have.
The Uncharted franchise comprises standalone adventures that players new and old can jump into, and so while there’s still incredible stories and character development in those first three games, we felt players could easily dive into Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End…
In short, it was more cost efficient to port the two PS4 entries, rather than remaking the original trilogy. Truth be told, this isn’t a shocking revelation. However, it is my belief, along with many others, that releasing it in this order is detrimental for newcomers.
Yes, I agree with Sony that new players are still likely to enjoy these games at their core. Still, they aren’t likely to connect with the story in the way Naughty Dog intended them too. If Sony wanted to publish another PlayStation exclusive to PC, why not go for The Last of Us Part 1? Or, how about a niche cut like Medievil? Better yet, how about an endlessly requested title like Bloodborne? The reason, as I am sure many of you have concluded for yourselves, is money. And although this isn’t surprising, ultimately, it is still disappointing.
Thankfully, the gameplay isn’t something you’ll need prior experience for.
Gameplay that makes you feel like a movie star.
Gameplay sections are broken down into combat and exploration scenarios. The former involves engaging in a cover-based system that is akin to Gears of War, albeit, slightly more movie like. You dash from cover to cover, avoid enemy gunfire, and then find opportune moments to retaliate back. Although it is responsive and entertaining, these sequences aren’t that much different from the earlier Uncharted iterations.
On the other hand, the stealth-based segments have been revamped completely. They now come with additional mechanics including enemy tagging, and dedication indicators. Likewise, hand-to-hand fighting has also been improved upon, allowing allies and enemies to freely assist each other. These system overhauls help to create a natural flow to the combat cycle.
Outside of action set pieces, you’ll also encounter a fair number of puzzles to solve. Some examples include a connect the dots style minigame, and a mechanical combination jigsaw. These aren’t extremely challenging, but they do require some time to figure out and complete.
Exploration that rivals Tomb Raider.
Uncharted 4’s exploration hasn’t changed all that much from its precursors either. In fact, the only new addition to the toolset is that of a grappling hook. You get to swing on broken beams, questionably sturdy boxes, and basically anything that it can latch onto. It is undeniably fun, even if it is a little outlandish at times. One scene in particular is absolutely ridiculously, but it is also unbelievably amusing. I don’t want to spoil it, but trust me, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there.
Other than that, you run around, find ledges to climb on, make precarious jumps, and maybe even find hidden collectables along the way. I’m far from the first person to state this, but if you’ve ever played the PS2 Tomb Raider games, then you’ll know what you’re in for here.
Open world elements.
Although most of the chapters in Uncharted 4 are linear, there are some that delve into free form exploration. During these moments, you’ll get to explore around open ended environments, typically while driving a vehicle, and discover noteworthy landmarks. Interestingly, The Lost Legacy’s version of these sections contain open world ideologies. If this is any indication as to what the series future holds, then the future appears to be bright.
For those interested, the ports performance is practically flawless. I ran both game on ultra, using a 1080p monitor, and retained a solid 60 frames per second throughout. There is a large number of settings which can be tweaked to find your PCs optimal setup. Sadly, the accessibility options aren’t nearly as all-encompassing as they were in The Last of Us Part 2. This means if you require specific settings to cater to a disability, then you may be out of luck. Other than that oversight though, this port is very good.
Jaw dropping graphics.
As is standard with all Naughty Dog titles, the graphical fidelity is top tier. The sprawling and varied landscapes are showcased in stunning clarity, most of which can be attributed to the high-quality textures created using the substance toolkit. To keep things simple, this effectively allows the in-game objects to remain hyper detailed and keep the game running smoothly. It also doesn’t matter if the objects in question are up close or at a distance, they’ll always appear crisp.
Unsurprisingly, the character models are equally admirable. Minute features such as pores, skin indentation and wrinkles, have all been rigorously illustrated. Best of all, the animations are inconceivably lifelike due to the motion and facial capture technologies. It’s truly awe-inspiring just how silky smooth the cutscenes are. Even more so when you learn they are rendered in real time.
I did encounter some visual hiccups here and there. For example, during one cutscene, Nate locked into place as the rest of the scene progressed around him normally. Although it broke my immersion, it was pretty negligible, and I cannot deny that it was also funny to watch. Similarly, I also spotted object culling in areas I probably shouldn’t have. This occurred way more than it should have, but I’ll put this down to outdated techniques.
Soundtracks that live up to their predecessors.
Upon hearing that Greg Edmonson wasn’t a part of either project, I was a bit sceptical about the OSTs living up to my expectations. After learning that Henry Jackson was his replacement, I was more than certain that they would. And, I wasn’t disappointed.
Musically, the soundtracks are, for a lack of a better word, more mature. The arrangements are masterfully put together, using a plethora of orchestral instrumentation to highlight a wide range of emotions. I personally can’t help but feel a mix of nostalgia and melancholy whilst listening to them in isolation. For my money, Henry Jackson has created the best all-round soundtracks to date.
Star studded cast that brings their A game.
I’ve already discussed how fantastic the motion and facial capture was in both games. But it would be negligent to overlook the spectacular group of actors behind that technology. After all, the cast here is beyond stacked, including the likes of Nolan North, Emily Rose, Troy Baker, and Laura Bailey, to name but a few. The genuine believability they brought to their character made it so much easier to get impassioned with their outcomes. 10/10 performances across the board.
Overall, the Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is fantastic value for money. Both titles play and run exceptionally well, offering an immersive and engaging gameplay experience. The environments and character models are unbelievably lifelike, and the OST features a mature take on the Uncharted sound. Narratively, A Thief’s End is arguable the strongest in the series, especially if you’re already familiar with Nate’s story.
Consequently, you may want to wait this one out until you’ve had the opportunity to play through the original trilogy. However, if you aren’t too fussed with the lifetime story of Nate, then jumping in here is also a viable option. Regardless of which way you go, this package is definitely worth picking up.