Like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, Nathan Drake travels the world hunting for—and often stealing—valuable artifacts.
Unlike Jones, he’s not a professor of archaeology; unlike Croft, he’s not wealthy already. He’s in this line of work for the riches, and for has obsession with Sir Francis Drake, whom he claims as an ancestor.
In a direct nod to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” the early part of “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” has him working to reclaim an artifact he briefly possessed as a juvenile before it was taken by a rich collector.
This relic is Drake’s ring, which, when inserted into a fancy golden gizmo, is the key to deciphering the knight’s coded writings. Nathan has discovered a block of unaccounted-for time during Drake’s voyage around the world in the late 1500s, and suspects Drake took a side trip somewhere — somewhere with treasure, perhaps.
So Nathan, his getting-too- old-for-this mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan and a handful of their treasure-hunting buddies set out on a globe-trotting trip to find the clues they need to uncover the mystery behind Drake’s missing months.
Nathan is highly athletic, so you’ll spend a lot of time guiding him along narrow ledges and up crumbling walls as he navigates ancient ruins, overgrown forest caves and modern alleyways, often trying to reach a switch or open a passage so his compatriots can continue on. You’ll also solve a variety of puzzles meant to keep ancient doors locked and old secrets hidden.
But this is an action game as well, and lots of people employed by that same rich collector who had Drake’s ring are trying to stop Nathan and his compatriots. They’re well-armed and aim to kill, but Nathan is skilled in both fisticuffs and gunplay.
He can punch, grapple and counterattack foes up close, and will employ objects in the environment or relieve an enemy of his weapon when possible. When shooting, the emphasis is on hiding behind cover and popping out to shoot at enemies who are doing the same.
Nathan can carry a few grenades, a pistol and a larger gun, so you’ll often swap his weapon with that of a downed foe to fit the situation. Grenades can be used to flush enemies out of hiding, and melee attacks are useful when an armed attacker tries to flank Nathan and his buddies.
At its best, “Uncharted 3” has the relentless pacing and rapid-fire banter of a good ensemble action movie. This makes the occasional break in momentum stand out more—when you’re running and shooting and climbing around nonstop, and then you hit a wall because can’t find the door or handhold you need or you run into some goons armed with rocket launchers and Nathan dies over and over, it’s rather jarring.
Apart from the single-player story mode, “Uncharted 3” also features a selection of competitive online multiplayer modes for up to 10 players—money and experience levels earned in this mode can be used to unlock new weapons, pieces of clothing, accessories, characters to play as and other goodies. There’s also a set of cooperative game types, including a miniature campaign for up to three players to tackle.