TUCSON, Ariz. — Developer Naughty Dog has basked in well-deserved adulation for its "The Last of Us" series, but I've always felt that the team hit its peak with the culmination of the "Uncharted" games.
Revisiting the games in "Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves," which revamps a pair of PS4 "Uncharted" games for the PS5, only confirms that sentiment.
Now blessed with the hyperdetailed visuals, smoother animations, and rapid loading times bestowed by the new console, the games immediately become two of the best available on the console.
"A Thief's End" marks the endgame of gaming icon Nathan Drake, who takes on the quest of his life while tying up frayed ends in his family and personal life.
"The Lost Legacy" — originally conceived as an expansion to "A Thief's End" — follows Drake's frenemy and former flame Chloe Frazer as she sets off on her slate of wild, "Romancing the Stone"-style escapades.
The adventures are vibrant, funny, accessible, and fluid. The adventures follow the Indiana Jones template of death-defying treasure hunts, wise-cracking protagonists, and action set pieces that blow your hair back.
As a bonus for PS4 players, all trophies previously racked up pop up when you import your old save files.
Intended or not, watching the cavalcade of past accolades is not only an ego boost but a nostalgic trip to the past, reminding you gently of all the adventures you had years ago, as well as what awaits you when you leap back into the fray.
It would have been kind of Sony to have offered an upgrade discount to those who have bought the PS4 versions of the games, but the new title is not only a no-brainer purchase for players who have yet to experience them.
The anthology paves the way to potential PS5 remasters of the original trilogy — previously collected as "Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection" — the absence of which marks one of the few faults I can find with the new package.
Some have dinged "Legacy of Thieves" for its lack of multiplayer, but that mode was never the series' strong suit, seeming tacked-on.
That's not to say "Uncharted" games are strictly solo affairs. The games are so cinematic that they provide an excellent couch co-op experience. One player on the controller and another suggests solving puzzles and winning fights while sharing the chuckles in lighter moments.
An essential component of any PS5's collection, "Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves" is a nostalgia-tinged joyride into Naughty Dog's incredible past, as well as an appetizer for the movie set for release Feb. 18.
It will be something special if that film contains a tenth of the vision, vigor, and joy encapsulated in these games.
The publisher provided a review code.