A cargo plane accelerates down a runway with Drake and his compatriots stowed away inside. As the rear door yawns wide-open, a convoy of terrorist-carrying trucks is in hot pursuit.
The vehicles draw up to the craft, weaving in and out at high speed, as machine-gun wielding passengers leap recklessly between them to gain a better vantage point. Drake's group engages the enemy in a fierce battle as bullets and grenades burst into fireworks of carnage.
Suddenly, a second plane swoops into view, weapons flaring. There's a massive explosion as the rear-most truck bursts into flames and carousels spectacularly upwards, almost colliding with the airborne craft. The cargo door draws up. Drake is away. Or is he?
It's a sequence of typical cinematic flair from Naughty Dog. And if you didn't know any better, you'd swear it was a set-piece from Uncharted 3's campaign. But the first dead giveaway is the four Drakes on the plane. What I've just described is in fact the opening of a multiplayer map - one you'll be able to play in two months' time as part of the upcoming beta.
"We're showing we can take our epic, action-adventure feel from single-player into multiplayer," says game director Justin Richmond. "We got a little bit of that feeling last time, but this time we're really pushing that and making it feel like it's something new and different that people haven't seen in the multiplayer arena before."
Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells chips in: "We've improved our multiplayer technology now to allow networkable moving objects and really open up the opportunities for the designers to come up with some great experiences."
And this is just a single bullet point on an impressively comprehensive list of new features unveiled to the press at a multiplayer hands-on event in Los Angeles.
Before the event I spend a fascinating morning in the company of Nathan Drake actor Nolan North, Uncharted writer Amy Hennig and others watching a cut-scene from the game being motion-captured (more on that next month).
But the afternoon is all about multiplayer. And, having had a first run at it in Uncharted 2, the studio's goal this time is no less than to be the "go-to game" for multiplayer gamers on PlayStation 3.
"We have our work cut out for us," acknowledges Richmond. "There's a bunch of other titles out there - Call of Duty, even Killzone - that are very, very big in the multiplayer arena. I think we bring something new to the table, something that people haven't done before - and we don't do something that's half-assed.
"We want to push as hard as we possibly can. The only way to do that is to make your goal be so lofty that it becomes something that's almost impossible but you might be able to do it. I think we can do it."
It would be easy to be overawed by the challenge of following what is rightly regarded as one of this generation's finest games. But every member of the team I speak to exudes a quiet confidence that never strays into cockiness or complacency.
Let's get into the game itself. Two maps are available at the event: Airstrip and Chateau. The former is the one already described; after that set-piece it cuts to a more familiar multiplayer setting. The latter is set in and around the fire-damaged chateau seen in the single-player footage previously released.
Two main modes of play are available today: 5 vs. 5 Team Deathmatch (there's a 10-player limit in MP) and the all-new Three Team Deathmatch, which pits three teams of two against each other. It's a brilliant addition, encouraging a surprising degree of tactical play from the off, even amongst rival journalists thrust together by fate.
This is aided by a respawn system that gives the option to respawn as normal or near a team-mate if they're not currently engaged in a battle. Alongside promoting co-operation, Naughty Dog also wants to bring balance to team-based games, mainly to stop it being quite as humiliatingly pointless for the losing side in an obvious mismatch.
The 'Player Balancing' system introduces Power Plays, which kick in when one side builds a clear lead. Examples include Elimination, which temporarily stops one side from respawning, and Exposed, which reveals the locations of the opposing team.
For its part, the winning team is granted more chances to earn cash. Throw in Overtime and Sudden Death and the idea is that even the most one-sided match ought to offer its moments of drama and excitement for everyone.
"All these things, they just make the game in general a different experience from the last game," says Richmond. "We know we're on the right track."
I find I have a lot more fun in the Airstrip map, with its numerous containers to clamber over and under, buildings to creep through, and multi-level vantage points. Chateau is a more tense experience in which you're more likely to be exposed and diving for cover behind nearby ruins.
Beyond the game, social media has a big part to play. Every developer and his (naughty) dog are doing Facebook integration these days, but Uncharted's creator wants it to be worthwhile.
Richmond details one very cool example: "When you login to Facebook through the XMB you can see all your Facebook friends playing the game. If you and I are Facebook friends, even if I don't know your PSN ID, we can still play together, and that's huge.
"Everybody has on average about 150 Facebook friends, but with PSN friends they have a lot less so we want to make sure people can play with their friends and really have an experience that's social and interesting."
Happily, "social and interesting" to Naughty Dog doesn't mean spamming feeds with the usual how-to-make-your-friends-hate-you updates.
"When we update things we're not going to do the general 'You hit level 20!' and blast that out to all the different social media sites," Richmond reassures. "That's boring, people hide it." Amen to that.
He adds: "We want to make it much more personal, so: I uploaded a screenshot that I think is cool; I put a clip online that I think is awesome." A new set of editing tools will facilitate this, enabling the creation of highlights reels and so on, which can be uploaded directly to Facebook or YouTube.
Additionally, Uncharted TV will live in the online interface, serving up Naughty Dog-produced content and the best of the community's efforts.
Uncharted 3 multiplayer also supports stereoscopic 3D. According to Wells, this actually came about as a side effect of another new feature: split-screen multiplayer.
"We wanted to add split-screen to our multiplayer - it was a very important feature, the very first thing we started tackling when we started Uncharted 3 multiplayer," he explains. "We knew that we were going to have two points of view anyway, so that's basically all 3D is: rendering in the left eye and the right eye".
Understandably, the 3D effect isn't as knockout impressive as it is in single-player (which Naughty Dog has gone to incredible lengths on – and we'll be covering separately in more detail very soon), but its inclusion underlines the overall ambition to cover every single base with the game and then some.
"It's trying to make sure that everybody in the game has the right experience and making sure it feels like it's running in frame-rate and looks amazing," says Richmond. "So not one system is getting the shaft – the 2D looks awesome, the 3D looks awesome and plays just as well".
A nice touch here is that both participants in a split-screen game can sign in separately with their PSN IDs, ensuring no-one loses out on progression bonuses.
Elsewhere, you'll have four loadout slots to customise with choices of weapons and boosters, with Naughty Dog promising "thousands of combinations". And characters themselves can be dolled up and accessorised if that is your 'thing'.
One disappointment with Uncharted 2's offering was the not-exactly-inspired range of game modes. Three Team Death Match is a step in the right direction. And Naughty Dog teases us with the promise of further MP mode announcements, one of which just happens to be Richmond's favourite. "We'll be announcing more and more of that stuff through the summer," he says.
There's new boosts, perks, treasure and rewards to discover and capture, and you can experience all of that yourselves when the beta hits on 28th June for PSN Plus subscribers and buyers of InFamous 2, and 5th July for everyone else.
With Naughty Dog saying nothing about co-op missions for now (other than they're coming), that, for now, is everything we know about multiplayer. It's all looking as comprehensive, confident and compelling as one would hope. And that's before we've even had a play of the main adventure.
"We've got some pretty big plans for E3," Wells concludes with a grin. Excited yet?