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Game Review: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Jenise Mass, Staff Writer

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Game developer Naughty Dog is back again with the fifth and final entry in their astounding action-adventure Uncharted series; Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. This time around the game doesn’t center around the sarcastic treasure hunter Nathan Drake (the previous four games’ protagonist), but instead the focus is on his old partner Chloe Frazer who was previously introduced in Uncharted 2 (2009) and was last seen in Uncharted 3 (2011). Chloe teams up with Nadine Ross, a stubborn ex mercenary with trust issues who debuted in last year’s Uncharted 4 as an antagonist, and together, they search for the fabled Tusk of Ganesh in India. Initially, the game was announced as a DLC for Uncharted 4, however, the studio decided to release it as a standalone instead which was a brilliant decision on Naughty Dog’s part because this is possibly the best Uncharted game out of the series.

Last year when Uncharted 4 dropped, fans of the series were disappointed when fan favorite character Chloe Frazer was reduced to a mere mention and not a physical appearance, but later that year when Naughty Dog announced their latest project would focus on Chloe, they were easily forgiven. Accompanying Chloe on the journey is Nadine Ross who became popular last year and who many fans felt deserved better despite being one of the antagonists. Together the two women make a compelling and powerful pairing.

The duo Naughty Dog put together here is one of the best pairings out of the series because of the way their relationship/partnership develops over the course of the game. Despite their common goal and reason for their partnership – to find the Tusk of Ganesh – the two of them start off on rough terms with both of them having difficulties playing nice with each other. Chloe is a thief with a reckless and unpredictable nature. Nadine has an inability to trust people and is a straightforward no-nonsense type. Neither of the women exactly trust each other but they need to put aside their differences or else they both have something to lose. For Chloe, finding the Tusk isn’t only about the money, but it’s also personal to her because of her Indian roots and her father was also looking for it. For Nadine, she stands to lose her family’s private military company, Shoreline, permanently and needs the money to get it back. Chloe is the one with extensive knowledge of the Tusk, Nadine is the one with brute force and knowledge of the rebels who are also after the Tusk. Whether they like it or not, they need each other.

Their partnership comes about out of necessity. But despite their differences and clashing personalities, by the end of the game the bond they’ve built is believable and incredibly endearing. Together, they have amazing banter and chemistry, displayed through gameplay dialogue and cutscenes, that feels genuine and they go from closed off and untrustworthy of each other to opening up about their pasts and trusting the other to have their back in a firefight.

What this game especially does right is treat its female characters with respect. Chloe and Nadine are certifiably tough, intelligent and fiercely independent women with strong personalities that make them highly enjoyable characters, however, it’s not overdone to the point where they seem invulnerable and can take on anything. They are given weaknesses and show vulnerability in times of uncertainty, whether in regard to the journey or within themselves and it’s facets like these that give the women layers of complexity that help develop their characters beautifully over the course of the game. They are impressive women in their own right and many fans, especially female fans like myself, were happy to see them treated with respect. Characters like Chloe and Nadine are also a great example that further demonstrates why we need more women, especially women of color, at the forefront in mainstream media.

Like the previous Uncharted games, the writing is superb and the story is phenomenal, however, The Lost Legacy delivers more emotional depth to the story that makes you feel more attached to the characters and the journey they’re on. Drake’s adventures were grand and memorable but they were always driven by a personal gain, not a genuine connection. Even though she grew up resenting her father for pushing her and her mother away, Chloe still felt a connection to going back to her home country of India and finding the Tusk. Nadine feels guilty for trusting the wrong people which in turn lost her her family company that she was in charge of and wants to find some sense of stability in her life again. Both women are driven by a personal determination that grows and is felt by the player as they journey through the game with them. But there is a specific scene at the halfway point of the game that’s a moment of revelation for Chloe (and a moment that has become my absolute favorite out of the series) that was heartbreaking and beautiful, yet such a powerful turning point for her character. It felt so real and genuine, the player can’t help but truly feel for her.

The Lost Legacy is also visually and realistically stunning, even more so than Uncharted 4 was, and Uncharted 4 was a gorgeous game. Of course, this is a Naughty Dog game and Naughty Dog has always had a keen eye for detail in their games, but they really overdid themselves in the most incredible ways possible in bringing The Lost Legacy to life. From the breathtaking environments, to way the characters move and fire weapons so fluidly, their facial expressions and body movements, the way the mud or rain slopes downhill, how the sunlight beams through open windows or tree branches, or even how Chloe fights off bugs when the player leaves her standing for too long, everything about this game feels utterly realistic and even leaves you speechless with how stunning it is. The amount of detail that went into this game is admirable and you can tell the artists and animators who did it love their job.

The Lost Legacy also seems to be a large amalgamation for what made the previous Uncharted games so enjoyable and well loved. Aside from the customary Naughty Dog visuals, the gameplay from the previous games, especially from Uncharted 4, has returned with the introduction of a few newer techniques, however, there is a stealthier approach to this game’s combat than in the others. The treasure hunting narrative has returned, as well as the mind blowing puzzles, and the player is again able to explore and collect the little trinkets and treasures sprinkled throughout the environments during gameplay. Obviously, two fan favorite’s have returned and are now the main characters, and there’s a surprise appearance from a popular character who was also introduced in the last game. The action pieces are again just as phenomenal and wild as they were in the previous games and are perfectly balanced with the gameplay and exploration which really shows in the last 30 minutes of the game, which also contains a huge callback to one of Uncharted 2‘s popular action sequences.

But what makes this Uncharted game better and different from the rest (aside from having two female leads) is how contained it is, something we haven’t seen since the first Uncharted. The second, third and fourth games saw Nathan Drake traveling to multiple countries to discover whichever treasure or lost city he was after, and while they were entertaining and amazing adventures, the franchise needed a contained setting so it didn’t feel like the story was jumping around like it did at times in the others. The Lost Legacy is set entirely in India and focuses solely on Hindu myths and culture. What made it more refreshing and interesting was how it felt as the player learning about the Hindu legends through Nadine who doesn’t have the extensive knowledge like Chloe does and therefore asks questions about it. The player can learn along with her which I found incredibly smart and endearing. The game is also perfectly paced coming in at about 6-8 hours (depending on how much time the player invests in exploring) compared to Uncharted 4′s 15-17 hours and Uncharted 2′s 7-16 hours. The story blends nicely with gameplay and doesn’t feel rushed or prolonged or at any point. There were times in the previous games where I felt like “I just want to get through this part already” but there wasn’t a single moment where I felt that way playing this one.

Overall, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a brilliant game and the best out of the series. It offered all the things players loved about the predecessor games and then some. Naughty Dog truly hit it out of the park with this one and it’s material like this that makes me love the studio and keeps me interested in what they have planned. They said themselves that this game was made to be the final installment of the series, however, I feel that while Naughty Dog closed one door, they opened another full of possibilities to keep the series thriving. They told Nathan Drake’s story and I feel like they have only scratched the surface on Chloe and Nadine’s.

Fans loved this game, they love Chloe and Nadine, and it’s been incredibly well received, so I know I’m not only speaking for myself when I say that I would love to see a trilogy based on Chloe and Nadine’s next adventures. But no matter what they decide, I’m excited for what Naughty Dog has in store for its fans.

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Game Review: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy