By Jen P
Being a huge fan of the Uncharted franchise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from their newest installment, The Lost Legacy. It’s the first of the Uncharted series not to feature protagonist Nathan Drake, who’s been the gaming girl’s answer to uber-sexy Lara Croft since 2007.
I love you too, Drake. *sigh*
Butt-hurt over my missing eye candy, I was skeptical of a female-led version of Uncharted–especially considering that both the main female protagonists have been Drake’s antagonists at some point during the franchise.
I found myself pleasantly surprised.
Some Backstory on the Main Characters:
**Contains spoilers for those who’ve never played Uncharted**
Chloe Frazer, the main protagonist, was a secondary character in Uncharted 2 and 3. She’s best remembered for her romantic history with Drake, but she betrayed him in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves to prove her loyalties to the treasure-hunting company that employed her. They eventually went their separate ways when Drake made clear his feelings for Elena were stronger than any he had for Chloe.
Nadine Ross may be best remembered for beating the everloving crap out of Drake and his brother Sam in the beginning of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. In that game, she was easy to dislike, as she played second to the game’s sociopathic-fratboy antagonist, Rafe. She also ran Shoreline, the mercenary company that supplied most of Rafe’s firepower and muscle. After the death of the majority of her men in the pursuit of the treasure, she realized Rafe was a piece of shit and left him and Drake to fight it out in the hold of the mythical pirate ship, Libertalia.
“Don’t cross Ross.”
-Chloe, on Nadine
The game immediately thrusts you into a crowded Indian marketplace as Chloe. You are assisted by a young girl named Meenu, and are then tasked with finding a red door on the war-torn streets of the city. Once you find the door, you’re united with Nadine, who, having lost control of Shoreline, has partnered with Chloe on a hunt for the mystical Tusk of Ganesh.
After meeting Nadine, the pair of you complete many death-defying jumps across the city’s rooftops, until you break into the office of Asav (Leader of the insurgents, a previous cohort of Nadine’s, and the main antagonist of the game). You steal a key and a map, then escape his forces and head for the visually stunning setting of the game’s main treasure hunt– India’s Western Ghats, a real-life mountain range famed for its biological diversity.
In other words, the game is gorgeous. Obvi.
Through a series of puzzles and gunfights, you and Nadine make your way from crumbling ruin to crumbling ruin, collecting artifacts and clues to the location of the Tusk and filling out your map. There are many setbacks along the way, usually caused by Asav and/or his men, so get ready to duck and cover. (**Hint: Grenade Launcher)
But the problems for Chloe aren’t always external. Nadine disagrees with a lot of Chloe’s choices, which makes for compelling interactions between the two.
It’s fun, it’s beautiful, and you’re a badass who gets to punch patriarchal assholes in the face. What more could a modern girl want in a game?
But for real…
Straight away, I noticed Naughty Dog’s ever-present attention to detail. Each blade of grass, every drop of dew, the dirt building on the protags’ faces… it’s intense. But most noticeably, in my humble opinion, is the diversity of the characters; not only in skin tone and hairstyle, like many games have FINALLY caught up on, but accents, religion, and even body types are unique. Chloe has lean curves to match her character’s lifestyle, whereas Nadine has arms and thighs you’d believe capable of kicking a grown man’s ass– and she does… often… which I like.
Gameplay is in third person (a must in the games I play for the viewing advantage, like being able to see an enemy approaching from the back). The controls are smooth and simple enough for the average gamer to master (and the sub-average, like me, to manage).
The training process is brief, with a hefty amount of cut scenes to move the story along. Once you get into the game, the cutscenes become more spread out. They only appear as you accomplish different tasks, and continue to move the plot along quickly. Conversation during gameplay fills in the rest of the story. We’ve come a long way since the days of speech-bubble dialogue. It won’t be missed.
Speaking of dialogue, I love the female friendship in this game. I’m surprised by how rare it still is to find non-catty ladyfriends in media. The Lost Legacy manages to build a well-balanced relationship between these two women; and I have to say, it’s re-fucking-freshing.
The puzzles can be a bit difficult, but Nadine offers verbal hints to help you along. Besides, I’m here for the puzzles. I like a good mental challenge. It’s during the gunfight scenes that my usefulness depletes. I usually pass the controller to my husband, then steal it back for the next fistfight or puzzle. I’m a firm believer that the couple that games together stays together!
The story and the sense of discovery are as compelling as any previous Uncharted game. I only wish the game were a little longer. It has the shortest play time in the franchise, but The Lost Legacy also costs about 20$ less than the much longer Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. I’d say that’s a steal.
And a final, super random, personal thought:
Driving a Jeep through a beautiful landscape is one of my favorite things in real life (and one I rarely get to do), so this virtual version is much appreciated. Nothing’s as good as the real thing, of course, but driving between the temples, surrounded by virtual elephants and breathtaking views was enjoyable nonetheless.
I give Uncharted: The Lost Legacy 4 Shields for playability and believable female protagonists.
Have you played The Lost Legacy? What are your thoughts on this game compared to the rest of the franchise? Let me know in the comments.