Uncharted 2 opened with raggedy protagonist Nathan Drake dangling from a train carriage over a steep mountain drop, and a recent hands-off demo of Uncharted 3 finished with Drake dangling out of a moving cargo plane overlooking miles of desert. You just can't beat the classics.
I think it's safe to say this plane - spewing its cargo out into the air and inevitably minutes away from a nasty collision - is an earlier version of what we see crashed and burning on the game's front cover.
The demo started minutes before, with Elena and Drake running over airport rooftops in a bid to stowaway in the aforementioned plane. The pair walks up to a gate and, despite initially stating the opposite, Drake asks Elena to leave him on his own. He's racked with guilt over her unspecified near-death experience - she gets into her fair share - and the quality of the voice acting and animations, as expected, carries the scene with some emotional grace.
The E3 trailer told most people all they needed to know: Elena and Chloe are making their return alongside veteran adventurers Drake and Sully. There's an odd dichotomy to Uncharted - Drake is the undisputed star of the show, but the series would stumble and fall without its ensemble cast.
But if its characters are the beating heart of the series, Uncharted's exotic settings and lush environments must at least account for one of its other major organs. Here we find our heroes climbing and leaping in the dead of night, with smoky mist under a pale white moon setting our characters worlds apart from the Istanbul night-time caper at the start of the second game. The muted colours of this shadowy palette also contrast nicely with the bright intensity of the yellow desert that comes next.
Going it alone, then, Drake is forced into conflict against a pack of armed goons. In a particularly nice touch the game pulls a cheeky sleight of hand trick in having the player think they're heading into a stealth-focused sequence before a frantic ambush of spotlights and gunfire. Knowing he's on their tail, the plane is ordered to take off, forcing Drake to evade gunfire, clamber back onto the rooftops, and dispatch various enemies along the way.
Between all the mayhem we get to see Drake leap from a vantage point before taking down an enemy, a move he's clearly learnt in the downtime between the second and third games.
This doesn't help with getting on the plane, however, which is already in the process of taking off as Drake finds his feet on the runway. Elena turns up with the duo's jeep, right on cue, and a brief but dramatic sequence (it's all in the camera angles) has Elena drive parallel to the plane's landing gear. In an expected but certainly satisfying move, Drake leaps onto the wheel seconds before the plane completes its take-off, and stows himself away for most of the journey.
Hours later, Drake crawls through the plane's vent system only to be spotted by a towering man-monster with biceps the size of melons. A fist fight ensues, but Drake's scrappy blows barely phase his adversary, who throws him onto the cargo ramp at the back of the plane in a bid to let gravity finish the job.
Recovering, Drake manages to make a dash for some of the ship's cargo and opens a parachute attached to a crate - the resulting incident knocks our beefy bruiser out of the craft, but takes most of the rest of the plane with it. Drake is left outside the plane, precariously clinging to a waving sheet of tarpaulin. We might have seen similar scenes before, but I can't wait to see them all over again.
Uncharted 3 will be released for PS3 on November 1.