UN­CHARTED: THE LOST LEGACY

Ian Dean en­joys Un­charted’s open world

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Our final hands-on as­sess­ment be­fore Chloe’s ad­ven­ture prop­erly be­gins.

We only re­view fin­ished games, so in View­point we go hands-on with near-final code of a game that has just missed our re­view dead­line. Ian Dean is an Un­charted fan, he’s fol­lowed Nathan Drake around the world, and this is his con­clu­sive pre-re­lease ver­dict. Re­turn­ing to the Un­charted-verse is like wel­com­ing back an old friend, only there’s a Nate-shaped hole in the world. But I don’t care, be­cause the new part­ner­ship of Chloe Frazer and Na­dine Ross is as en­gag­ing as any­thing Naughty Dog has cre­ated in the past. It’s the dy­namic be­tween the two leads that holds ev­ery­thing to­gether: Frazer is self-cen­tred and mis­chievous, a sur­vivor used to putting her­self first; Ross a prag­matic sol­dier driven by a need to save face. The game needs them, too, as Un­charted: The Lost Legacy is taking risks with the se­ries’ roller­coaster for­mula that, with­out a sharp script, could come off the rails. The big change comes as the pair en­ter In­dia’s Western Ghats, a vast map filled with loot, se­cret lo­ca­tions, en­emy en­coun­ters, and puz­zle tow­ers. There’s no clear path, which means I’m free to ex­plore and tackle the ‘story’ sec­tions in any or­der. This is Un­charted 4’s Mada­gas­car map freed from its tun­nel vi­sion safety net. While Nate’s 4x4 jeep ex­cur­sion fun­nelled you from one en­counter to the next, here I de­cide how and when to fol­low the nar­ra­tive.

GHATS EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

Swip­ing on the Touch Pad opens Frazer’s map. It’s big, roughly four times the size of Mada­gas­car, mak­ing up around four hours of the game’s eight-hour play­time. The map is es­sen­tial in this vast ex­panse of tum­bling wa­ter­falls, an­cient undis­cov­ered tombs, and un­der­wa­ter cav­erns. As sites are discovered they’re scrib­bled down, and there’s plenty to un­cover.

The main fo­cus is to find and con­quer three ‘tow­ers’ that re­late to an an­cient relic found ear­lier in the game. Each lo­ca­tion is teem­ing with Asav’s pri­vate mili­tia. So this is my first co­nun­drum: do I go in heavy and rely on Ross’ skills, or play to Frazer’s strengths and take a stealth­ier ap­proach? Be­fore I dive in, I spy a hid­den ammo crate. Af­ter pick­ing the lock I’m re­warded with a si­lenced pis­tol. My mind has been made up for me – I’m are go­ing in qui­etly. The first guards are taken out from cover, then Ross whis­pers “shot­gun ahead”. As my foe rounds a cor­ner he’s taken down.

It feels Far Cry-lite, but thank­fully there are some clas­sic Un­charted mo­ments to off­set these en­coun­ters, as once cleared of en­e­mies there’s a puz­zle-party to en­joy. A door with an an­cient lock has Frazer push­ing and pulling levers in frus­tra­tion (the spirit of Nate lives on!) be­fore Ross slaps a carv­ing at the lock’s cen­tre and the door slides open. “It looked like a but­ton”, she quips. I smile; this odd cou­ple is work­ing out nicely.

LOST AND FOUND

In ad­di­tion to the main events, there are trea­sures to find. Hoysala Em­pire to­kens are buried, stuck be­hind walls or deep in hard-to-reach cav­erns. There are beauty spots and points of in­ter­est to be tracked down, or more of­ten stum­bled upon, and snapped on Frazer’s mo­bile phone, which acts as a sur­ro­gate for Nate’s jour­nal. Pass­ing a shrine, I can’t re­sist hop­ping from the jeep to ex­plore. See­ing a hook point high up a cliff sparks the same need to in­ves­ti­gate. The open world struc­ture is per­fect for Un­charted.

It works be­cause Naughty Dog hasn’t lost it­self in this ex­plorable ex­panse. The heart of The Lost Legacy is still plac­ing believable char­ac­ters in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances and watch­ing them sink or swim. Af­ter spend­ing ten min­utes hunt­ing down a Hoysala to­ken, Frazer’s ar­chae­o­log­i­cal in­stincts shine. She’s pleased with her dis­cov­ery, Ross mean­while ques­tions whether go­ing off-piste in search of the trin­ket was a waste of time. The pair bicker, and the di­a­logue changes with each map se­cret I stum­ble upon.

Of­fer­ing greater free­dom is a brave step for­ward for the se­ries, but ul­ti­mately The Lost Legacy is built on the pil­lars the se­ries is fa­mous for: believable char­ac­ters, exotic puz­zles, and dra­matic en­coun­ters. But will it be more than a test­bed for Naughty Dog’s next grand ad­ven­ture? Pos­si­bly.

We’ll have our re­view of Un­charted: The Lost Legacy next is­sue, out 26 Septem­ber.

VIEW­POINT “NAUGHTY DOG HASN’T LOST IT­SELF IN THIS EX­PANSE. THE LOST LEGACY IS STILL ABOUT PLAC­ING BELIEVABLE CHAR­AC­TERS IN EX­CEP­TIONAL CIR­CUM­STANCES.”

FOR­MAT PS4 ETA 22 AUG PUB SONY DEV NAUGHTY DOG

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