Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection Review
Much like a special edition of a classic film, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is where you’ll find the definitive versions of two undeniable classics — Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. One is a big-budget blockbuster and the other an often underrated spin-off; neither game looking or feeling its age in these premium PlayStation 5 remasters.
Naughty Dog’s swashbuckling, seat of your pants, action series borrows so much from cinema that comparing the Legacy of Thieves Collection to something akin to a Criterion Collection release does feel rather fitting as both of these versions surpass their originals in subtle but important ways.
Despite already being visually arresting games whose level of spectacle surpass many a big-budget movie, Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection provides a significant boost to both the visuals and performance. Whether wading through lush jungles, sneaking through rain-soaked neon-lit cities or being dragged through the streets attached to a moving convoy, it’s astonishing to see the world of Uncharted looking even better than I thought possible.
It’s not just about improved resolution either. Eagle-eyed Uncharted veterans are also likely to notice that the games have gone through something of a colour-grading pass during the remaster process. Everything just has a little more ‘pop’ than it did before. Again, it’s a subtle change but one that works very well and plays to the addition of HDR across both games (the change also impacts the SDR so all players will something different regardless of display technology). There’s also some additional detail to be found in the environments too. Just little things like improved textures on rock faces or additional foliage in what were already dense surroundings. These are things that PlayStation didn’t make a big song and dance about before release, but do make a difference. There’s a trade off however, as the increase in fidelity has highlighted a little more of the ‘uncanny valley’ nature of character’s faces and make the occasional bit of clipping more jarring. Still, these are very minor gripes.
Impressively, these upgrades can be found across the visual modes of which the Legacy of Thieves Collection has three options to choose from: ‘Fidelity’ prioritises visuals above all else, capping the frame rate at a locked 30fps to do so. ‘Performance’ ups the frame rate to 60fps but caps the resolution at 1440p. Finally, ‘Performance Plus’ allows for 120fps at 1080p — admittedly something I couldn’t try due to not having a display that supports 120Hz. During my time with the game I found ‘Performance’ to be the better of the two modes available to me, with animations looking noticeably smoother (especially in busier scenes) and the visual deficiencies compared to ‘Fidelity’ negligible. A mode that split the difference between the two — something akin to what Insomniac Games did with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Spider-Man: Miles Morales — would have been perfect.
As technically impressive as these games are — and they really are — the most important part of Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is the gameplay. By this point the developers at Naughty Dog knew what they were doing when it came to third-person action games and creating scenarios that always feel a little perilous and a thrill to be a part of. Uncharted 4’s most action-packed moments play just as well as they did in 2016 and revisiting some of the more open sections of the game in the wake of playing The Last Of Us Part II illustrated Naughty Dog’s progression as a studio. I raced through the first half of Uncharted 4 in one sitting, smiling throughout. One half of me enjoying the moment and the other remembering what was around the next corner. Uncharted 2 may be my favourite, but the character development and slightly more grounded approach of Nathan Drake’s final adventure is right up there with it. The most impactful moment for me is still, without spoiling anything, the scene early on in the game with Drake in his attic right through to him joining Elena downstairs. It’s such a simple but evocative sequence that will stick with me for a long time.
Having Uncharted: The Lost Legacy included in here too is incredibly exciting. First and foremost, because it’s massively underrated as far as the series goes. This side story allowed Naughty Dog to flesh out the wider Uncharted world with this one, placing players in the shoes of fan-favourite side character Chloe Frazer. Paired up with Nadine Ross — a character players will become familiar with in Uncharted 4 — the duo journey through India in search of yet another ancient artefact. Gameplay-wise there’s still all of the exploring, gunfights, and near-death set pieces that the series is known for. However, the character dynamics and motivations are different enough to that of Drake and any of his range of sidekicks that this slight change to the Uncharted formula is enough to set Lost Legacy apart from the rest of the series. It’s also a tighter and more consistent package with a ton of variety for its much shorter playtime.
I’d argue that if you haven’t played Lost Legacy — which is more people than it should be — that this game alone is worth the price of admission. Both of these games are highlights of the last generation and anyone new to Uncharted will find a lot to love here. As a big fan of the series myself I can also see plenty of reasons for returning players to dive in as well. Especially as upgrading from either Uncharted 4 or a copy of Lost Legacy allows players to do so for a small fee. As a bonus, saves for both games can be imported from the PlayStation 4 version to carry over any progress you had made as well.
Visual upgrades aside, the way the Legacy of Thieves Collection utilises the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller is greatl. Not only does it make the game more immersive with some understated contextual vibrations, and also makes the action far more satisfying with additional weight added to each trigger pull. 3D Audio also shines here too, allowing users to experience the game’s incredible sound design through a pair of headphones as opposed to a full home theatre setup.
So, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is the full package — almost. The only thing missing from the remaster is any kind of multiplayer. Whilst this is certainly not what most will remember Uncharted 4 or Lost Legacy for, and isn’t all that surprising, it’s at least worth noting that the competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes from the original versions of the game have been removed. Multiplayer aside, this package has it all. And whilst jumping into the franchise this late may be a little strange for new players, Uncharted 4 plays like a ‘greatest hits’ of Drake’s adventuring career and will quickly get you caught up.
Uncharted is a series built on great things coming from small beginnings. And whilst the foundations for the Legacy of Thieves Collection are far from small, this remastered collection punches above its weight to breathe new life into two classics from the last generation for new fans and returning players alike.
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