When the Uncharted series first launched on Sony's Playstation 3 way back in 2007, it quickly earnt itself the nickname "Dude Raider" amongst its legions of fans, and for obvious reasons. A game about a guy raiding tombs for historical treasures, whilst climbing up ruins, shooting bad guys and solving ancient puzzles, the similarities to Ms Croft's Tomb Raider were more than skin deep - and that wasn't a bad thing. If you ask us, you can never have enough archaeological adventure games - and with the recent Tomb Raider reboots deciding to make the game more Gears of Lara, and putting us off the series for life - it's turned to Uncharted developers Naughty Dog to inject a feminine touch back into the series, with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy adding a double dose of oestrogen in the form of its new protagonists.
The first of the Uncharted games to eschew Nathan Drake as the leading man, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy instead pairs up two of the more prominent females from the series - Drake's fellow adventurer/semi-love interest, Chloe Fisher and Uncharted 4's South African bad girl, Nadine Ross, on their own little adventure across the Indian wilderness. Searching for the legendary 'Tusk of Ganesh', an artefact Chloe's father dedicated his life to researching, they'll slip through shanty towns, risk life and limb in ancient ruins and temples, and jog through jungles in search of the elusive tusk. However, they're not the only ones after the treasure, with Indian warlord Asav hot on their heels throughout - a nasty piece of work who hopes the legendary item will be able to rally rebels to his cause in his war-torn home.
Yet despite the shake up on the character front, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is still very much an Uncharted game in terms of gameplay. Another Indiana Jones-esque adventure, you'll delve inside historic temples, solve ancient puzzles, and clamber across ancient ruins, getting into the odd fire fight with the folk you've managed to upset along the way. Sticking with what they do best, there's plenty of hidden treasures and secrets to discover off the beaten path, too, with many a collectible hidden behind a short, special puzzle, or in a hard to reach area that'll require some thought in order to reach. Whether you're swinging around some ancient pillars to turn off half a dozen fountains in turn before a timer runs out, or figuring out how to leap from platform to platform without being cracked over the head by a statue's axe, there's plenty of puzzling and platforming to be done along the way.
Once you get out into the Indian mountain ranges and rainforests, The Lost Legacy starts to become a much more open game, with various ruins and ancient structures scattered around the world, which you can largely investigate in whichever order you want. As it's such a large area, Chloe and Nadine have even been given a nifty jeep that they can hop into to go from place to place, from story objective to bonus treasure hunts and back again, however you see fit.
It's an interesting idea, and one that does give the game a bit more of a sense of adventure than some of the previous entries, where you were mostly shuttled from place to place - however, it's also a bit of a double-edged sword, especially if you're a bit lacking in the map-reading department (like us). All too often we'd decide to head to a point on the map, only to find ourselves ending up wildly off course - or, worse, ending up struggling to find a a route around a sheer cliff face. You see, while it's certainly more realistic for Chloe to have to park her jeep before unfolding her full-screen paper map, it makes getting around the world that much harder, as you can't have the map open while you drive along - it's one or the other.
But perhaps the biggest issue we have with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is with the characters themselves. While it may be a change from the norm, the duo of Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross just don't have anywhere near the personality of the dude raider himself, Nathan Drake. Chloe is the better of the two, occasionally cracking jokes or making the odd flippant remark, but aside from her unexpected love of monkeys, Nadine is pretty dull and grumpy, all things considered. Perhaps that's what the life of a mercenary does to you, but the pair just don't have anywhere near the same sort of rapport as Nate had with the likes of Sully, Elena or Sam, nor is there much in the way of light-hearted banter, with most of their interactions falling under the perfunctory go here/do this/shoot that chatter.
And while it may have perhaps a little less combat than other Uncharted games, what's here is as enjoyable and accessible as you'd hope. With an array of guns at her disposal, Chloe can pick off enemies from a distance, or run in punching and kicking to take a more hands-on approach. The Lost Legacy, perhaps more so than the earlier Uncharteds, also has a tad more scope for stealthing it up if you're so inclined - some guns can have silencers attached, letting you pick off Asav's men from a distance without being detected, while sneaking through long grass and lying in wait for enemy soldiers to wander past, before taking them out with a stealth melee takedown is still a valid strategy. There's also the odd explosive gas canister or enemy vehicle placed in a prominent position should you want to make a bit more of an explosive entrance.
Sometimes, though, you just need to take a bit of a break from the oh so serious tomb raiding, and luckily Uncharted: The Lost Legacy has you covered here too. Making its return from Uncharted 4, the Lost Legacy's amazing photo mode lets you snap selfies wherever and whenever you want to (even mid cutscene) at the touch of a button, letting you rotate the camera freely, and change everything from the lighting and filters to adding frames and stickers. The best bit? You can even change Chloe's expression to something entirely unfitting, including a strange wink, or a duck face, and snap a quick piccie, just for the lols. Unpausing the game, only to watch her face suddenly snap back to her usual pouty moody expression, as her and Nadine solemnly chat about Asav's latest devious scheme never fails to raise a smile.
Despite a few unusual design decisions, then, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is still a pretty fun game. While we weren't overly enamoured with the Chloe/Nadine duo, the traditional Uncharted action/adventure combo of platforming, puzzling and treasure hunting is still strong, and well worth a punt if you're into the Uncharted/Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones-type games. While a better way of mapping out and navigating the more open world would have been nice, the world is chock a block enough with secrets and hidden things to discover that even heading way out in the wrong direction doesn't feel like too much of a downer. Just be aware that The Lost Legacy is a little bit on the short side compared to the full Uncharted games - about eight hours or so, depending on the amount of detours you take for secrets - as reflected in its more budget price-point.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4