Uncharted: The Lost Legacy - Leading ladies shine as Drake steps aside
When the credits rolled at end of Naughty Dog's cinematic masterpiece Uncharted 4, it felt like the perfect end to one of modern gaming's most epic adventures.
The climax was thrilling, emotional and more importantly, it felt like exactly the right place to draw a line under it and call it a day. All the loose ends were tied up, there was nothing more left to say and the stage was set for Nathan Drake to ride off into the sunset.
Indeed, the development team were adamant that their flagship franchise was done and dusted, and the studio would be moving on to focus on other projects. But this is the games industry, where money talks and no successful series ever really ends.
So it came as no huge surprise when, less than a year after the release of the "final" Uncharted game, plans for a brand new spin-off were revealed.
READ MORE: Uncharted 4 review: Drake signs off in style
Of course, Naughty Dog weren't exactly lying to us when they said Uncharted 4 would be the final chapter of the Nathan Drake saga. The modern-day Indiana Jones has hung up his compass, passing the torch to two characters from previous games, fan-favourite Chloe Frazer and femme fatale mercenary Nadine Ross.
The choice to put two female leads front and centre is an interesting one, especially as Uncharted has always been a bit macho and masculine. It's refreshing to see that laughing in the face of danger, fist-fights and thievery aren't seen as strictly jobs for the boys these days.
The leading ladies do a decent job in the starring roles; there's plenty of chemistry between the two thanks to some stellar voice acting from Claudia Black and Laura Bailey. A story involving a mysterious Indian artifact allows the writers to explore aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, which is not exactly a subject that's been tackled in many games until now.
Other than the new stars and setting though, there's nothing particularly original or innovative about The Lost Legacy. It's the same climbing up huge structures, looking for ledges to grab and spots to swing from, the same avoid-the-enemies stealth sections and the same cover-based shootouts when you inevitably get spotted.
The new lock-picking mechanic and camera phone features are a nod to originality, but they're nothing we haven't seen in other games before.
Depsite the lack of groundbreaking new ideas that could have potentially shaken up the franchise, you get the impression that fans won't be too bothered with more of the same. You know what you're going to get with an Uncharted game and The Lost Legacy delivers in every department.
It's big, it's bold and it's incredibly well designed. More importantly; it never stops being fun. The combination of exploration, combat and puzzle-solving is as enjoyable as ever and the joy of discovering a new area or finally cracking a particularly tricky section keeps you invested and engaged from go to whoa.
There's also plenty of the trademark cinematic sheen that Uncharted has become famous for. The script and dialogue are predictably top-notch, the locations are exotic and beautifully rendered and the plot is perfectly paced with a few twists and turns along the way.
At about 6-8 hours it's not as long as the other games in the series, which is why you can pick it up for a relatively reasonable $68 from most NZ retailers.
It remains to be seen if Chloe and Nadine will be installed as the permanent standard bearers for the series or whether their Indian adventure was a one-off but it's clear that Naughty Dog and Sony see plenty of life in the post-Drake world of Uncharted.
WIN: We'll be giving away an Uncharted prize pack to one lucky Stuff reader later this week, including a copy of the game and heaps of other goodies. Check our games section for details on how to enter.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Developers: Naughty Dog
Publishers: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Formats: PlayStation 4
Price: $68 (RRP)