You do, however, need to think a bit about where and when to do your shooting. You won't be circle-strafing too often in Uncharted 2; shooting from the hip while running full-pelt is very inaccurate, and movement while holding L1 to sight your gun is extremely slow. This serves to slow the pace and halt the flow a little, at least while you're still unused to the slightly different rhythm of Uncharted 2's deathmatch march. With all the clambering and cover, the controls are on the elaborate side for a multiplayer shooter, with lots of contextual variation; but they're predictable and well-tuned, and the animation is fantastic.
We played rounds of team deathmatch - a self-explanatory race to 25 kills - and Plunder, a capture-the-flag variant in which teams track down treasure artefacts and try to get them back to their respective safe points. The latter encourages closer teamwork, as the heavy statues slow down and disarm their bearers, and force them into the open somewhat. Teams are split into heroes and villains, the former a cast of scruffy, bare-headed adventurers including Drake himself, the latter a shadier bunch of black-clad goons.
The Nepalese village map is a dense tangle of muddy roads and dilapidated buildings, littered with cover opportunities and signs to hang off one-handed. Weapons are honest, sturdy firearms in the AK47 vein, plus grenades, and there's a simplified and weighty melee that offers an instant kill from behind. Initial impressions are very Gears of War, very Metal Gear Online, but that's not exactly fair - conditioned by years of manipulating stolid soldiers, most of us just weren't thinking in terms of Uncharted 2's freedom of movement.
If the competitive multiplayer presents fresh mechanics in a standard setting, Uncharted 2's co-op is a more unusual proposition all-round. Three's a crowd by most standards, and the scenarios on offer sit somewhere between the complete co-op campaign of Resident Evil 5, say, and the map-based challenges of Resistance 2. They are self-contained mini-adventures that rehash parts of the single-player game but have been remixed for co-op play, light on the platforming (sorry, traversal) and heavy on the frenetic combat - at least, in the example we played.
In a gritty, but slightly more urban Nepalese setting once more, Drake, Sully and new girl Chloe fight through tangled streets, cloistered courtyards and ruined launderettes. Enemies pour at them from all directions, encouraging more movement and improvisation, and less rehearsed cover-flank-advance tactics. There's scoring to keep you motivated.
Fallen comrades stay alive for a little while and can be revived on the spot if you get to them in time, otherwise they'll respawn at the last checkpoint. Some of the stealthier enemies creep up behind players and grab them in a chokehold - a team-mate will need a very carefully-aimed headshot or well-timed melee to save them. It's not all cloak-and-dagger by any stretch of the imagination though, as later in the level you're faced with hulking, armour-clad, minigun-touting brutes straight out of Army of Two.
In fact, you could call Uncharted 2's co-op Army of Three, and the comparison is by no means an insult. It's robust, rough-and-tumble, contained and exciting action, with some neat co-op mechanics, marred only by a couple of ugly checkpoints with spawn-camping AI. The moments that require player co-operation to progress - gathering at a set point to give each other boosts over a fence, for example - seem to be rather perfunctory pacing devices at the moment, but we're sure Naughty Dog can come up with some more imaginative uses for them.
Naughty Dog went this route with the co-op because it wasn't prepared to compromise the true single-player adventure that fans of the first Uncharted expect. "The thing is, when we started work on Uncharted 2, we developed the story for the single-player at the start and then we decided to do co-op," says Balestra. "You'll be able to play three big sections of the single-player with different set-ups, so the enemies aren't exactly the same, you might need your friends to progress through the level. We still wanted to not take any shortcuts in the story just to make it work for multiplayer or vice versa - we wanted to make the single-player as good as we can."