Published Dec 13, 2011The Uncharted series has, appropriately enough, always been built of scavenged parts. Its globe hopping, treasure-hunting protagonist owes no small debt to Indiana Jones, itself a franchise mash-up of '30s and '40s Saturday matinee serials, as well as Indy's tomb raiding digital double, Lara Croft.
Uncharted is also a puzzle-based action-adventure shooter hybrid that, unlike most of its current-era, triple-A compatriots, has broken no new ground in form or content. Nor does it aspire to. Uncharted simply wants to tell a cracking, interactive adventure story and does so with its usual aplomb.
This round, intrepid anti-hero Nathan Drake is joined by his mentor, Sully – a fantastic, Columbia-set flashback chapter, which ties into the Sir Francis Drake-pegged master plot, explores how the partners first met when Drake was a precocious teen – as well as his female foil, Chloe. The primary objective is the lost city of Iram of the Pillars, in the the Rub' al Khali desert on the Arabian peninsula – another historical figure that fleshes out the storyline is T.E Lawrence, the archaeologist turned army general known as Lawrence of Arabia – though Drake's adventures take you from Britain and France to Syria and Yemen.
This third entry, which offers nearly no refinements to its now-familiar game play, makes this as clear as One-Eyed Willy's treasure map. And yet the well-worn formula still works because Naughty Dog has developed characters that we know and care about, an addictive storytelling style, high-end scripting, motion-capture and voice acting, and a thrilling collection of cinematic set pieces that continues to drop jaws.
Drake's Deception may eschew experimentation, but it does so in favour of full-throttle fun. Gaming may be ever fixated on the newest new, but Drake would tell you that it's the old things that are the most thrilling. (Naughty Dog/Sony)