Uncharted is an action-adventure third-person shooter platform video game series developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for PlayStation. The main series includes Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, followed by Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
I just finished Uncharted 3 a couple of days ago after getting introduced to the series earlier this year. I played through the first two games over weekends, but it took me a while to finish the third game. Overall, the series is very fun to play if you’re into action-adventure platformers and history.
The Uncharted series follows modern-day treasure hunter Nathan “Nate” Drake, a supposed descendant of the explorer Sir Francis Drake, his mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan, journalist Elena Fisher, and a cast of other companions as they travel around the world. Each game involves a major quest item shrouded in mystery, a search for clues leading to the treasure in various locations (eventually ending up in a legendary lost city), and some evil mercenary backed by a crazy army of hired thugs and henchmen who will do anything to stop you from getting said treasure.
Playing the Uncharted series is the next best thing to actually traveling around the world, because of all the amazing details put into the design of the different locations in the game.
In Among Thieves, the characters explore the snow-capped mountain villages in Tibet, a museum in Istanbul, the jungles of Borneo and the urban streets of Nepal.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception sees Drake through a number of exotic locations, including alleys of London and Colombia, a château in France, a castle in Syria, a city in Yemen and the sprawling deserts and sand dunes of Rub’ al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world.
All of the locales are amazingly rendered down to tiny details that make the game really memorable. Colorful masks can be seen in store shops in Nepal, while prayer flags flutter in the breeze in a Tibetan village. The design of the locations in the final chapters of the game are visually stunning masterpieces rooted on real lost cities as well. This includes El Dorado in South America, the lost city of gold; Shambhala, a mythical kingdom hidden somewhere in inner Asia which is mentioned in various ancient texts, and the legendary lost city the Iram of the Pillars (also known as the “Atlantis of the Sands”, which is mentioned in the Quran.
The gameplay of the Uncharted series revolves around a combination of action-adventure elements and 3D platforming with a third-person perspective. Platforming allows Drake to jump, swim, grab and move along ledges, climb and swing from ropes, and perform other acrobatic actions that allow players to make their way through the different locations in the game. If you’re not very patient or precise, you’ll find yourself falling off cliffs and high ledges a lot. There’s a section in the third game where platforming becomes even more tricky when you find
yourself on a cruise ship where everything is rotated 90 degrees.
Puzzle-solving is one of the most fun parts of the game for me. This usually involves manipulating movable items around a certain room to open a door to the next area. The puzzles are pretty easy to figure out since the clues can all found in Drake’s Journal, which gets filled up with drawings, memorabilia and notes from the trip as you progress. There are lots of funny side comments and notes in the journal, especially in the second game.
One of the most challenging parts of the game are the chase scenes, where you have to drive a vehicle and combat enemies at the same time. In the first game, this involves a jeep and jet ski ride along a water-filled route (where you have to avoid enemy fire and explosive barrels). There’s a crazy helicopter chase scene and tank chase scene in Uncharted 2 that left me cursing. Then there was that chase scene on horses through the desert, which was pretty cool.
Although a wide variety of weapons are present in the game, as Drake, you can only carry 1 sidearm (pistols and small guns), 1 primary weapon like a rifle or shotgun, and 4 grenades at a time. These weapons are obtained by picking up weapons dropped by defeated enemies or scattered around the maps. Picking up items like riot shields for defense will cause you to drop your primary weapon. There are also specialized guns like the dragon sniper rifles and heavy artillery weapons like RPGs and grenade launchers which you will need to use to take out bigger enemies like tanks and helicopters.
While most battle scenes are easy enough to navigate, some of the ambushes can be tedious and frustratingly hard to plow through. There are times when multiple armored bad guys with shotguns flank you at the same time snipers with lasers and goons with RPGs are already shooting from afar, so defensive tactics are essential. I prefer to use stealth at the start of an encounter to take out enemies down one at a time, but this is not always possible. Ducking behind a wall, using bombs strategically and accurate headshots are the way to go. Though it may seem futile after you’ve died and restarted checkpoints repeatedly, patience and perseverance is the key to winning. That and lightning quick reflexes in pressing the triangle button to block attacks during boss fights and melee encounters.
If you’re just after the main story, I’d say that each Uncharted game is good for one playthrough lasting about 9-15 hours depending on how you play. You can make the game last longer by really taking the time to explore and collect all of those glittering hidden treasure lying around to earn additional trophies ranking your skill as a fortune hunter.
I have yet to try multiplayer or coop mode for Uncharted 2 and 3, but I wouldn’t mind going back for more missions and treasure hunting. Going back to the game is like meeting up with old and familiar friends. Overall, the likable characters, great locations, easy to follow story and fun gameplay make this a quick favorite. It’s light compared to some other games I’ve played this year (like Heavy Rain, Tomb Raider and The Last of Us) which makes it fun to replay.
- Uncharted 1: Drake’s Fortune: 9/10
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: 9.5/10
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception: 9/10
Game screenshots from Uncharted: Wiki