It was always going to fall to me to write T3's Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection review on PlayStation 5, because it's a series that has meant so much to me throughout the years. Hell, I even have a tattoo dedicated to the treasure hunting exploits of Nathan Drake.
And whether it was the moment I stood tall upon a ginormous clock tower situated in the heart of Madagascar after just scaling every inch of the building, or sprinted across rooftops in India while avoiding a blizzard of bullets, or simply hearing Sully say "Goddamn" one more time, the Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection quickly reminded me of just how special these games truly are.
Of course, the big question here is: does this graphically upgraded collection of both Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy do justice to the beloved Sony series, or is it nothing but an early cash-in on the upcoming Tom Holland-led film (that it's almost certainly better than, let's face it)?
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves review: price and release date
- What is it? A remaster of single-player action-adventures Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
- Release date? January 28, 2022
- What platforms can I play it on? PS5, PC (TBC 2022)
- Price? $49.99 / £44.99 / $AU74.95
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves review: what is it?
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End takes Nathan Drake on a swashbuckling adventure to find the lost treasure of pirate captain Henry Avery. Meanwhile, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy finds treasure hunter and thief for hire, Chloe Frazer, searching for the Tusk of Ganesh as she looks to pick up the trail where her father left off.
Original developer Naughty Dog, also known for The Last of Us series, has handled the PS5 remaster itself, while port specialists Iron Galaxy is taking care of the PC version, which will release sometime later in 2022. Both games offer Indiana Jones-like globe-trotting adventures that hold up admirably, in due part to the writing, grand scale of set pieces and sheer likeability of the cast of characters.
Nathan Drake as the plucky handsome hero who gets dragged in for the cliched "one last job" is as ever relatable, thanks in no small part to a stellar performance from Nolan North. This time though, he's backed up by his once thought deceased brother, Sam (played by Troy Baker) who has been obsessed with finding Avery's treasure since the pair were kids.
Naturally, there's a great dynamic between two of the industry's best voice actors at the top of their game, only potentially outshone by Drake's partner, Elena (Emily Rose) in the second half. Richard McGonagle's Victor "Sully" Sullivan is as delightful as ever, if not underutilised. There are large portions where I miss the cigar-smoking businessman's presence.
The Lost Legacy, on the other hand, follows Chloe Frazer: the one-time love interest of Drake given her own well deserved and overdue spotlight. Similarly quippy and confident, there's more of a wary yet impulsive nature surrounding Frazer that is peeled back over the duration of the game. Voice actress Claudia Black returns in fine form, giving her best performance of the character to date.
Along for the ride we have mercenary Nadine Ross (Laura Bailey), back for redemption from first appearing in Uncharted 4 and filling in as the stern sidekick role. Again with more focus placed upon Ross, it's much easier to take a liking to her but there's still some work to be done to develop the character further – maybe a sequel with the duo could explore this further?
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves review: how does it play?
Uncharted is known for its blend of climbing, shooting, elaborate set pieces and puzzles, with these two titles being no different.
The biggest thing that separates Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy from the rest of the series is the grappling hook, a new trusty gimmick that propels the character to once thought unobtainable distances. While grappling hooks are now a dime a dozen in the medium, its introduction here really opens up a lot of spaces, making me wish it was a main staple from the beginning.
The ability to stealth through situations has also seen an upgrade, previously only being available in a handful of specific levels. Now nearly every encounter can either be addressed guns blazing or by silently taking down enemies/sneaking past unseen.
Not trying to acknowledge the grim reality that these 'heroes' mow down dozens upon dozens of enemies to get to their fortune and glory, I always opted for stealth where possible. It's just not as refined as it should be. The limited stealth options, such as being able to mark out enemies with indicators, are helpful, but the game constantly feels as if it’s pushing you to engage in blockbuster firefights at any moment's notice. Its biggest culprit is the enemy AI that constantly goes out of its way to put you in awkward unpassable positions without being spotted.
Naughty Dog has introduced a handful of new features and improvements to the PS5 remasters; the biggest of which revolves around the PS5's DualSense controller. This includes haptic feedback so that players feel all "punches, vaults, and vehicular traversal," according to Sony. Tension in rope swinging is another new addition via its adaptive triggers.
The bad news is that the only time I really felt the impact of this technology was during the "Marooned" chapter in Uncharted 4, as Nathan Drake is washed up on an island wounded and alone with the rumble and haptic feedback doing its best to immerse you the danger. I did have to really concentrate to notice the feedback difference, though – Astro Bot need not fear any competition.
Another real shame is the absence of Uncharted's multiplayer portion, for what was a fun and underrated distraction from the main game. Alas, Naughty Dog appears to be moving away from this component, with 2020's The Last of Us Part II still yet to receive its own multiplayer.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves review: how does it look and sound?
Uncharted 4 was one of the best looking games on PS4, and now it's one of the best looking games on PS5. The same can be said for The Lost Legacy's stunning mountain ranges in India, although, as the former jets off to Italy, Scotland, Madagascar and more, it's clearly a class above as a technical showpiece.
The new graphical features include a Fidelity Mode (30fps, 4K), Performance Mode (60fps, upscaled 4K) and Performance+ Mode (120fps, 1080p). All of this goes into making these games shine visually better than ever before. The increased frame rate and lack of loading make the biggest jumps to the flow of the action but graphically, Uncharted has always been impressive and the changes here are not big enough to warrant another purchase for returning players.
The new 3D audio does exactly what is expected when utilising one of the best gaming headsets on the market, enhancing the Henry Jackman score immaculately. Uncharted 4 might not be on the same scale publically as say Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Big Hero 6, the composer's previous projects, yet that sense of adventure evoked by the music could challenge Jack Sparrow any day.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves review: how long to beat?
I rolled credits on Uncharted 4 in about 14 hours, though I distinctly remember it taking over 20 hours first-time around on PS4, as I scavenged for every collectible it had to offer. It's something to be savoured, not rushed. Naughty Dog's common trait of expanding the narrative via notes scattered throughout plays a big part here too, somehow never feeling overwhelming. It makes you want to stop and learn about the world.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy can be beaten in around seven to nine hours, making it perfect for a weekend playthrough. Any newcomers should start here, or better yet pick up the Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection to experience the first three adventures as you do miss out on a lot of important narrative beats and the emotional pull won't be as strong.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection serves as a good reminder of just how special Nathan Drake's swansong is, while also making a strong case for a sequel starring heroine Chloe Frazer. That said, there's not a lot for returning players outside of the new graphical and DualSense enhancements, which do little to elevate what was already two of the best games of last-gen. Sic Parvis Magna.
If you are interested in picking up the new Uncharted remaster, then it's heavily recommended to play through Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection first to experience the full story. There's also Naughty Dog's The Last of Us series, a more serious action-adventure set in an apocalyptic future, and the new Tomb Raider reboot from Crystal Dynamics. Both Nathan Drake and Lara Croft have taken big inspiration from one another.