Uncharted The Lost Legacy: Life without Nathan Drake

The guys and gals at developer Naughty Dog must be sorcerers of some kind because they keep creating magic with the PlayStation when it comes to the Uncharted games.

I mean, man, is there any other game on a console out there right now that looks as good as Uncharted The Lost Legacy? I seriously mean it. It’s as if Naughty Dog has turned up Uncharted to 11 on the visuals scale then added another few notches to the dial just for good measure. Just look at these images captured from the game. See what I mean?

The Lost Legacy is the first Uncharted game not to feature Nathan Drake, the main character of the previous games in the series – and I think it’s all the better for it. This time Chloe Frazer (who you control) and Nadine Ross are front and centre as they explore temples, caverns and ruins in jungle India to find the legendary Tusk of Ganesh. Oh, course, it’s not plan sailing: There’s a fellow treasure hunter and bad guy out to get them – and the Tusk of Ganesh – at the same time!

Gamers familiar with the Uncharted games will feel right at home with the game play, which is a mix of combat, traversal and environmental puzzles, with many of the ones in The Lost Legacy requiring a little bit of thought to crack them. They’re not impossible but with a couple I had to work through things one step at a time before things clicked. That said, a couple of puzzles did frustrate the hell out of me, requiring me to take a break, take a deep breath and come to it later with a clear head. That seemed to work.

Combat is generally solid, although I was frustrated at times when the game seemed to throw loads of enemies at you all at once, often meaning I’d die in quick succession before overcoming the odds. As you’d expect with an Uncharted games, you’ll be guiding Chloe through some jaw-droppingly gorgeous environments that made me second guess that I was playing the game on a standard PlayStation 4. It really does look that impressive.

The story is pretty solid, the motion capture and voice acting outstanding, and there’s a good relationship developing between Nadine and Chloe as they explore deeper and deeper into the jungles, trading one-liners and quips. Naughty Dog seems to be masters at those little things that make their virtual characters seems so real: The way Chloe cocks her head to the side as she plucks a bobby pin from her hair before she picks a log, the way a character brushes their hand along a rock face as they squeeze through a gap, the way they get covered in grime and scratches as the adventure unfolds. Magicians, I tell you, magicians!

At times in the combat I thought enemy numbers seemed to overwhelming (I was playing on normal difficulty) and I died a few times, mainly after I’d mistime a jumps (something that happened quite frequently when it involved rappelling over gaping chasms using a rope), sending Chloe plummeting metres to her death. There are plenty of treasure to collect for those who like to be a completionist when it comes to finding all there is to offer, as well as spots where you can take photos of your adventures that Chloe can view on her smart phone later.

The Lost Legacy was originally slated as downloadable content for Uncharted 4 but Naughty Dog decided it deserved to stand on its own feet rather than become DLC: I’m glad it made that decision. I didn’t miss Nathan Drake once in this Uncharted adventure and it shows that an entertaining romp in the Uncharted universe is possible without the wise-cracking Indiana-Jones like Drake.

Here’s hoping more adventuring from Nadine and Chloe is on the cards. Sorry, Nathan Drake, but I think your days are numbered.

Competition Time:  Thanks to the kind folks at PlayStation NZ, I have one (1) copy of Uncharted The Lost Legacy to give away. The game is PlayStation 4 only so you must own a PlayStation 4 to play the game. I’m not providing a PlayStation 4 for you to play it on.

To enter, simply tell me what legendary treasure you’d love to go on an adventure to find. Post your answer below or post your answer on the Game JunkieNZ Facebook page. The winner will be contacted via email or FB message and the prize delivered to them by PlayStation NZ. The competition closes next Friday, September 1.

Conditions: The competition is only open to New Zealand residents (the disc will be mailed to a New Zealand delivery address); One entry per email entry or Facebook post; The judge’s decision is final.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy media kit

Uncharted 4 (PlayStation 4) was one of my favourite games of last year: I always like the action that Naughty Dog crafted into the games featuring the likeable rogue Nathan Drake and its Indiana Jones-style of adventuring.

One of the new characters introduced in Uncharted 2,  was Chloe Frazer, a fellow treasure hunter.

In The Lost Legacy, the standalone campaign (which, I’m guessing, means you don’t need Uncharted 4 to play it – but it’ll certainly help with back story), Chloe is on a quest for a famed Indian artifact: The Golden Tusk of Ganesh. In order to find it – and keep it out of the hands of a ruthless war profiteer – she enlist the help of former paramilitary leader turned gun-for-hire Nadine Ross. The pair venture deep into the mountains of India’s Western Ghats to find the ruins of the Hoysala Empire and recover the legendary Golden Tusk of Ganesh.

The Lost Legacy is out next Wednesday (August 23) and will set you back $NZ69.95 (It’s PlayStation 4 only). Any impressions of the game are embargoed until tomorrow but I’m allowed to share photos of the media kit that PlayStation NZ sent me. PlayStation have always excelled at media kits when it comes to its marquee titles – and the one for The Lost Legacy doesn’t disappoint.

Look out for some impressions on The Lost Legacy next week – and details on how to win a copy of the game, thanks to PlayStation NZ.

 

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection review [PS4]

Over the course of three games, adventurer Nathan Drake, the star of developer Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, has climbed a lot of cliff faces and shimmied down a lot of drain pipes, all in the name of finding ancient treasure, most of it done with a witty quip or a punch or three.

Drake is undoubtbly one of Sony’s leading men and has been given the re-master treatment by Bluepoint Games in Uncharted The Nathan Drake Collection,  and the company has done a great job breathing new life into a series that debuted on the PlayStation 3.

Among the improvements are all three games are now targeting 1080p/60 frames a second, improved environment lighting, character models and shaders, and increased texture detail. There’s also now a speed run mode, if you’re the type of player who likes to run-n-gun it in the fasted time possible.

BluePoint has also added a photo mode, which is common for PS4 games these days, and reduced screen tearing. It’s a nice package.Oh, another nice touch is that the games keep a tally of how well you do in certain aspects (headshot, melee takedowns) and let you know how you’re doing against your online friends.

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A shot from Nepal, in one of Uncharted 2’s most thrilling levels.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves  was always my favourite game of the series, especially its Nepalese locations and its unforgettable opening moments, and if this remaster has done one thing, it’s shown me how badly the original Uncharted has fared since it’s release in 2007. Despite the remaster treatment, Drake’s Fortune hasn’t aged well, especially in terms of game play and when put up against Uncharted 2 and 3.

Talking of game play, any niggles I have are nothing to do with BluePoint but with the Uncharted series in general. Enemies sometimes seem like bullet sponges, even when you think you’ve got them square in the noggin, and at times Nathan’s punches seem weak as a wet teabag. And whoever at Naughty Dog thought it was a good idea having chase levels where you had to guide Nathan towards the player (ie pulling down on the left analogue stick to make Drake run forward) to escape a chasing threat, needs to be slapped with a wet fish and told it was a bad, bad idea.

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Nathan Drake and Sully discover the German U-boat from Drake’s Fortune.

The three Uncharted games look great, especially Uncharted 2 and 3, with the environments now lush and vibrant (unless Drake and his pals are exploring underground catacombs or caverns so things are a little gloomier) but the The Nathan Drake Collection poses the same question that all re-masters of last-generations do: Is it worth your coin if you’ve played it before?

If you haven’t played them before then, yes, the collection is worth owning (and to be honest, the collection is worth it for Uncharted 2 alone), but if you’ve played the series before it’ll be a harder sell answered by this question which you no doubt will ask yourself several times:”Do I want to play the Uncharted games again?”

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A shot from Drake’s Fortune using the photo mode.

Personally, I’ve enjoyed my time re-visiting the Uncharted series. They look fantastic and show how good the tech boffins at BluePoint games are but at times, the game play niggles frustrated me, especially with Drake’s Fortune.

That said, Uncharted The Nathan Drake Collection is a lot of fun, despite the flaws and I’m looking forward to Uncharted 4 on the PS4.

We have to remember that this is a re-master of an already established series, not a remake, so it’ll still have some of the niggles from the the original games. I really, really enjoyed playing an hour or two of each game at a time, just to see the progression between the two. If you you do decide to pick it up, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Here’s some capture of my playthrough of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune captured using the PS4’s share functionality. Enjoy. All of the screen shots for this write-up were capturing using the collection’s Photo mode.