2011 Video Game
While the principle theme of Uncharted 3 is deception, it is an obsession - in the form of Nate's longstanding fixation with his adopted ancestor, Sir Francis Drake - that drives the story between each sleight of hand, falsehood and misrepresentation to reach its final revelations. Though it is unclear how a young Nate came to arrive in Cartegena, it soon becomes apparent that his visit is no accident. His intended theft of Drake's ring and what appears to be an astrolabe from the city's maritime museum brings him into contact, be it chance or fate, with Victor Sullivan, a thief for hire, and Katherine Marlowe, a senior member of a British secret society with a vested interest in Sir Francis Drake's history. Despite being in Marlowe's pay, Sullivan - a thief, yes; a cad, yes; but by no means bereft of a moral core - intervenes to rescue Nate as the latter attempts to flee with the ring. Intrigued by the teenager's knowledge, wit and resourcefulness, he proposes to take Nate under his wing. The encounter with Marlowe has a profound effect on Nate, and he harbours a desire for one-upmanship that abides into adulthood. Without the astrolabe (which is in fact a cipher disk), Nate cannot solve the mystery of Sir Francis Drake's protracted voyage through the East Indies; denied the ring, Marlowe's shadowy organisation is frustrated in its search for Iram of the Pillars. This stalemate lasts for many years until the opening scenes of Drake's Deception, where Nate, with the assistance of Sully, Chloe and Charlie Cutter, orchestrates an elaborate subterfuge.
Though Talbot, Marlowe's lieutenant, arrives with a substantial payment to purchase Drake's ring in good faith, Nate's true goal is to track down Marlowe - and, by extension, the cipher disk. With the exception of a few unanticipated bruises, the con is a success; Nate enters a secet subterranean library where he retrieves the antique cipher disk (designed to reveal a message with Drake's ring inserted), a map and a journal belonging to T. E. Lawrence, the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Later, the four conspirators analyse the clues at their disposal.
Sir Francis Drake, Nate reveals, was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth and her closest advisors (famed mathematician and occultist John Dee; as well as her spymaster, Francis Walsingham) to travel to Arabia to locate a legendary lost city. Though known under many names through history - Ubar, the City of Brass, Iram of the Pillars - this "Atlantis of the Sands" is believed to contain treasures of impossible value. Drake's voyage was just one of many expeditions throughout history, with documented attempts to find it dating back to the Crusades. It was also a passion of T. E.
Lawrence, who dedicated many years of his life (which he perhaps lost as a consequence, after coming into contact with Marlowe and Talbot's predecessors) to his search for the hidden city. Armed with information gleaned from Lawrence's research, and knowing the Atlantis of the Sands to be situated somewhere in the Rub' al Khali desert, the story then takes Nate, as well as his companions, to France, and then to Syria in the search for clues leading to its exact location. However, having lost track of Nate (and Sir Francis Drake's ring) for so many years, Marlowe and her agents spare no expense in shadowing their every move. It appears that Marlowe's secret society has existed since the Elizabethean era. Built on the foundations of the Queen's once extensive spy network, this hermetic order still remains true to its original modus operandi of seeking power not through direct conflict, but through espionage, manipulation and fear. The cult is very old, remorseless in the pursuit of its goals and - as demonstrated by Marlowe's attempt to execute Cutter - capable of great cruelty.
After a narrow escape from the clutches of its agents in Syria, Chloe asks to have no further involvement in Nate's increasingly quixotic venture; Cutter, reluctant to quit but lucky to be alive, bids farewell, in order to convalesce. The clues found in the abandoned French chateau and Crusader citadel lead the protagonists to a city in Yemen, where they meet with Elena, now working in the region as a foreign correspondent. While happy to help the duo, ostensibly visiting to conduct "historical research", Elena effortlessly intuits Nate's true motivation. Though she pleads with him to abandon his potentially deadly obsession with Sir Francis Drake's journey and forget his longstanding enmity with Marlowe - if not for himself, then for Sully - he remains unmoved by her arguments.
Beneath the city the trio finds a hidden temple, the final leg of Sir Francis Drake's expedition before his return to England, and gain a grim insight into the explorer's reticence to share his findings with Elizabeth, Dee and Walsingham. Elena observes that the place appears designed to deliver an unambiguous warning. Inside the ancient planetarium that reveals the precise location of the City of Brass, committed to memory by Sully, a collection of wall reliefs wordlessly communicate a tale of wealth and luxury transformed into death and decay. But where Drake once saw reason to turn back, Nate is resolute in his desire to continue. On their return to the surface, Drake is hit by a drug-laden dart that causes him to hallucinate and panic; fleeing from his allies, he staggers insensibly through the city alleyways. He later regains consciousness to find himself face to face with Marlowe who, having already questioned him in his suggestible narcotic stupor, torments him with her knowledge of his true background. Though Nate briefly escapes the clutches of Marlowe's henchmen, pursuing her right-hand man Talbot through the streets, he is eventually knocked cold in an ensuing brawl. With Sully - the only individual to know the precise location of Iram of the Pillars - captured, the order have no further need of his protege.
Nate is given to a mercenary in their employ, the pirate leader Rameses, to dispose of discreetly. Only the avarice of Rameses, who also wishes to find the Atlantis of the Sands, rescues Nate. Led to believe that the pirates are holding (indeed, torturing) Sully, Nate escapes from captivity and, against incredible odds, embarks on a trail of devastation as he seeks to save his friend. After an astonishing escape from a stricken cruise liner in a violent storm, Nate returns to Elena to learn that Marlowe and her men - with Sully - departed two days previously, their convoy now deep inside the Rub' al Khali.
However, the reporter has a plan: Marlowe's small army requires airdrops of supplies to be delivered to the desert. By sneaking on board a cargo plane at the airport, Nate might just arrive in time to rescue Sully. Though Nate manages to hitch a ride on the plane, the manner of his arrival makes his discovery inevitable; following a fight with the agents on board, the plane crashes deep inside the Rub' al Khali. After a torturous journey through the seemingly endless dunes, Nate, exhausted, stumbles upon an abandoned settlement, now occupied by Marlowe's agents. Rescued by a Bedouin sharif named Salim, Nate shares his tale...
much to the alarm of his saviour, who cautions that the lost city must remain sealed forever. He relates a legend of the powerful Djinn, "Demons, born of smokeless fire", imprisoned in a vessel of brass and cast into the depths of the damned city by King Solomon three thousand years prior. Salim believes that if the English cultists unleash the Djinn, the consequences will be dire..
. and agrees to help Nate. After intercepting the convoy's rearguard in a daring horseback pursuit, Nate rescues Sully, and the pair - separated from the Bedouin in a violent sandstorm that almost seems to shield the city's entrance from the outside world - finally enters the City of Brass. Following his taking in of the awe-inspiring vista, Nate drinks deeply from a pool of water..
. and the true curse of the Iram of the Pillars is revealed. He experiences a vivid and terrifying protracted hallucination in which Sully is killed, and he must fight against malevolent fire demons. Upon coming to his senses and reconvening with Sully, the enormity of Marlowe's plan becomes deathly apparent. There truly is a vessel of brass that poisoned the city, located deep inside the spring that once sustained it. Whether corrupted by the wickedness of the Djinn, or something altogether more worldly in origin, it is this object that exudes the psychotropic agent that caused Nate such anguish. With the substance contained within at their disposal, there is no telling what misery or mayhem Marlowe's ancient order might seek to perpetrate. While the British cultists attempt to extract the vessel from the depths, Nate makes an explosive intervention while rescuing Sully.
As the city is sucked into the very sands, they witness the death of Marlowe, and face the ultimately impotent wrath of Talbot during their escape. In the final cinematic, Sully returns Nate's wedding ring, before joining Elena to board a plane and embark, we can only hope, on a new story yet to be told....