If you’re an action game junkie, there’s a fair chance Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Lost Legacy aren’t mysterious artifacts to you. They’re perfectly “charted” propositions. That said, take it from a veteran who’s collected every trinket, cherished every one-liner and copped every “Crushing” difficulty spike – your fond memories of them are spot on, like an X on a map.
I’m happy to say this upfront; these games are timeless treasures. The Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection on PS5 is a double pack remastering that belongs in every private collector’s museum.
When local PR asked if I wanted advanced code of this, it’s wasn’t like they had to whip out the grapple hook and rope me into it. More like, they would have needed a winch and a jeep in full reverse to drag me away from any excuse to replay the two most swashbuckling shooters of the last generation.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection Review
So how would one best appraise A Thief’s End and Lost Legacy to somebody who isn’t a history buff? They’re the latest and greatest in a long line of third-person shooters made by the code-magicians at Naughty Dog. The basic DNA of any Uncharted adventure: slip into the boots of an acquirer of rare antiquities – Nathan Drake in the first instance, Chloe Frazer in the second – then you’re paired with a pal they have an imperfect history with, and now it’s grave defilin’ time.
In gameplay terms, we’re talking a mix of puzzling against with improbably intricate mechanisms, bunghole puckering platforming and mass murder that somehow doesn’t give our affable heroes PTSD. Combat-wise, you’ll make orphans of henchmens’ children via cover-hopping gunfights, amateur chiropractics from stealth or two-button brawling.
The thrill of this action has barely aged a day. In fact, it’s been enhanced with the DualSense’s haptic feedback and force-feedback triggers. Now, I have to confess I was pretty excited when I booted this up and the game wouldn’t even let me begin until I’d updated the firmware of my DualSense. That sort of hard requirement suggested that I was about to feel something new and special through my fingertips…
Sadly, that’s not the reality. The moment to moment bumps and haptics expressions are great, but no real history is being made. While I like that rope swinging and the search for tyre traction has more oomph, I honestly think Housemarque’s efforts on Returnal are still the best in class shooter haptics so far.
One small caveat to that—I do think a lot of DualSense effort has gone into the hi-octane setpiece moments that are laced throughout both titles. The added nuance of haptics—combined with astonishing direction and those impressive flexes of The Naughty Dog Engine—elevates the wow factor to new heights.
Whether you’re serenely gazing off into an impossibly perfect vista or audibly swearing at your TV during yet another bar-raising blockbuster moment—holy colossal Hindu cow statue—these games look good. With a degree of visual pageantry that didn’t seem possible for 2016, Naughty Dog pushed the absolute envelope of the PS4, though the highest-fidelity their campaigns ever reached was 1440p at 30fps. Legacy of Thieves Collection ups the ante with a Fidelity Mode (4K native, targeting 30fps), Performance Mode (1440p upscale, 60fps target) and Performance+ (1080p, targeting 120fps).
Personally, I’m a fiend for fluidity, so I went with Performance Mode and was very happy with the results. Back in the day, a very small handful of ambitious gun battles could drop the fps down into the mid-20s, but those PS4 titles used clever motion blur implementation to make everything look and feel smooth enough. While my eyeballs are no Digital Foundry frame graphs, I replayed those exact same sections in this remastering and didn’t detect any slips at all.
Also, doing a few side comparisons of captured footage from the PS4 Pro versions revealed that the textures—particularly the high fidelity details ND put into skin and hair modelling—appear more vivid and sharper in Legacy of Thieves Collection. All that being said, I have to say that it’s slightly disappointing that this fandangle PS5 tech of ours can’t handle 4K, 60fps locked as a baseline.
I suppose I’ve just been spoiled by Insomniac’s Spider-Man Remastered. Its inclusion of hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and a new 60 frames per second RT mode, truly set that remaster apart from its original article. Mind you, the devs charged more, and they also completely retconned the main character’s face. We should be thankful that ND didn’t swap Nate’s natural good looks for the babyface of Tom Holland. Nor did they sully our favourite cigar-chomping mentor by swapping in the miscast bonce of Mark Wahlberg.
All in all, I’d say these games certainly could have been made to look better, but I think you’d have to be a pretty hardcore graphics whore to be unhappy with the results on offer. Naughty Dog’s artistic efforts were the tip of the cutlass stuff in the mid-2010s, and they’re just as sharp and impressive now.
That being said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the odd spot of rust in the physics department. When everything works as it should, the PS4 Uncharted games have you grapple swinging about like a Tec-9 toting Tarzan. The rope allows you to spontaneously spelunk when handholds are scarce or break under your mitts completely. And whipping over to king-hit some prick and tax his AK, all in one smooth, swashbuckling move, never gets old.
However, what was once an impressive feat in 2016 occasionally looks stilted and even feels like Looney Tunes cartoon logic every once in a while. Using preset anchor points in platforming sections looks relatively seamless. But there’s a bit of jank to behold if you have Nate disengage from aiming a gun, make a leap and hoik out his hook to do a daring position reshift. The slight moment of calculation the game needs to take here isn’t a huge eyesore, but it seems more noticeable when you’re in 60fps mode.
Also, some of the old bugs haven’t been squashed. I spotted the odd awkward platforming moment and B-movie death throe animation. More common were a few instances where the animation system would grab NPCs by the scruff of the neck and slide-teleport them several metres to where it needed them to be.
There are some additional hitches in what is an otherwise smooth rollercoaster ride, I should probably warn newcomers to expect the odd bit of whiplash with the puzzle sections. Personally, I think they’re well constructed and a nice change of pace. However, I did actually upload a solution video to one of the tougher ones way back in 2016 that’s provided me with a bit of independent research. The number of views (and upset comments about the puzzles designs) are insane.
Oh, and it’s also worth noting that the runtime of Lost Legacy is on the companion title side of things (Uncharted 4 is a 15 hr main story, whereas this is an 8-hour spin-off). Lastly, if you’ve come here to ask the burning question that is: has Naughty Dog revived and included Uncharted 4’s criminally underloved online multi? The answer is no with not much explanation as to why. With a few of 2021’s so-called AAA shooters being in the doghouse right now, I think an opportunity to attract a new audience has been missed.
Beyond the odd, uh, ropey physics moment and a key boss fight that’s as underwhelming as I remember it, there’s not much you else you can fault A Thief’s End and Lost Legacy for. There are still standout moments of beauty that will put your jaw on the floor. Likewise, the constant scenery shifts, plot twists and the lure of those MacGuffins will suck you in and hold you fast, like some sort of fiendishly designed death trap.
Even though these were the first Uncharted games to lack the benefit of Amy Hennig’s creative direction, the two scripts we did get don’t put a foot wrong and are slickly executed. After a deliberate low throttle start in Uncharted 4, the pacing basically becomes perfect and some areas open up to be as sandbox as you please. Furthermore, the ineffable charm of the heroes and heroines—coupled with some chuckle-worthy interplay with their fellow crooks—has aged like a fine wine.
Special mention has to go to the new Pulse 3D headset implementation here, too. Getting a better directional idea of where your chatterbox ally is in the world really adds something to the slower exploratory moments—a thereness and better sense of the scale to these ruins. Being able to better pinpoint incoming enemy fire saved my arse a bunch of times, too.
With time and perspective, it also occurred to me that the partnerships forged in Lost Legacy did not get enough praise, back in the day. And the most criminally undervalued gem in this collection is the inimitable Claudia Black, who delivers one of gaming’s most consistently wise-cracking, ball-busting Aussies.
Speaking of nuts, you’d have to be to not want these remasters in your private collection. The contents of the Legacy of Thieves Collection represent the jewels of the PS4 crown—gorgeous when I first appraised them and now polished to an even higher sheen.
Technically you could argue they’ve both been superseded in terms of gunplay and cinematic storytelling by The Last of Us series, but that’s also tonal chalk and cheese comparison. As it stands today, no other dev has climbed to a higher peak for exhilarating, quiptastic, globe-trotting action-adventuring.
These are landmark titles and Naughty Dog’s engaging gameplay and exquisite craftsmanship have been put on display for a whole new generation. Seek this fortune, and you’ll soon discover why this double chest is overladen with over 150 pieces of old, GOTY gold.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection was reviewed on PS5 using digital code provided by PlayStation Australia.