A well-charted territory revisited
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) ★★★★ Age: 16+
If any other studio had produced Lost Legacy, we would bow down before its brilliance and hail a stupendous talent. But Uncharted developer Naughty Dog sets such a high bar for itself that any falter is magnified.
Lost Legacy slavishly renews the swashbuckling, treasure-hunting escapades of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series, except this time with two female leads, Chloe and Nadine, from previous instalments. That's wholly admirable of itself (it's almost unheard of in gaming) but, barring the gender swap, you could be immersed in another Drake re-run.
Of course, Naughty Dog's offcuts outclass most of its peers' best efforts any day. Lost Legacy presents the player with a dazzling slice of western India - all mazy forests, craggy peaks and hidden temples - to explore. Blended with ND's cinematic eye, nose for action sequences and penchant for quippy banter, it's an irresistibly moreish confection.
Chloe and Nadine are a likeable enough pair but they might as well be Drake and his regular foil Sully for all it matters. No new abilities, no new approaches to problem-solving, no shift in the breezy tone that juxtaposes wisecracks with mass murder.
Uncharted 4's multiplayer mode also returns here in full - an entertainingly breakneck affair - so there's no doubting Lost Legacy's value proposition at €40. But the nagging familiarity breeds a mild contempt.
Sine More EX
(PS4/XO/PC/Sw) ★★★★★ Age: 16+
A splendid remaster of a delightfully bonkers shoot-em-up, Sine Mora EX rejuvenates the 2.5D side-scrolling genre with a raft of innovations. It grabs the standard "bullet hell" template - swarming enemies unleashing gazillions of projectiles - and wraps it around a dark, if kooky backstory.
It charts an unlikely path through airborne and underwater battles against floods of small machines and countless mini-bosses. Instead of a health bar, successful kills extend your time while incoming hits deplete it. A slow-motion superpower gives even bullet-hell newbies a fighting chance against the overwhelming odds. Fantastic artwork and a moody soundtrack complement a warped but compelling package.
The Pillars of The Earth
(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 18+
Translating Ken Follett's 1,000-page doorstop to an interactive medium ranks as a daunting prospect. But adventure specialist Daedalic sculpts a fair approximation of the medieval epic in this first episode of three.
It employs understated but striking visuals allied to a downbeat script to weave a yarn featuring religion, politics, ambition and survival. Your first task is to assist at an ill-fated childbirth and it doesn't get a whole lot cheerier.
Pillars moves at a glacial pace and clumsily apes a point'n'click adventure but still manages to be spellbinding at times.