Unreal Tournament III Preview
One of the best-known names in FPS history, Unreal Tournament has always represented the pinnacle of fast-paced action, and the games generally push the limits of technology. There's been much talk about the newest UT, and it's definitely time to dive into some details for this widely anticipated Epic Games creation.
One can obviously expect the same intense single-player action, but because UT has always built its reputation on multiplayer, Epic is prepared with several new innovations. In addition to the mainstays like Assualt and Onslaught, fans will experience modes that allow for more freedom, more strategy, and more ways of accomplishing a goal. They're coming strong with fresh new spins on Capture the Flag and Deathmatch, so even the most straightforward mode is getting a minor facelift. And perhaps most intriguing is the Warfare mode, which features two teams with potentially different objectives, and these teams will also be opposing races.
To elaborate, the game focuses on two competing character races; the Axon and the Necris. The Axon Corporation is comprised of many of the vehicles we came to know and love in UT 2004, but they've undergone a high-tech upgrade for 2007. These techno-savvy guys will have access to machines like the Hoverboard and Cicada; the former allowing the player to zip across vast landscapes and the latter will fire homing rockets from the air, ala Black Hawk Down. The Necris are new to the franchise and utilize tripod-like robots - called "Dark Walkers - very reminiscent of War of the Worlds.
Epic proudly unveiled the flagship Axon machine at the Leipzig Games Convention about a month ago; the Leviathan. This thing is a massive and intimidating five-man war beast that features one driver and four turrets for additional characters. Manning these guns means you're exposed, but each one will have an energy shield for your protection. Best of all, each turret utilizes a different type of ammunition, so there's some strategy involved with the Leviathan; it's not completely invincible. The downside- you can't move while loading and firing the devastating weapons on board.
The developers plan to include around 40 maps with the game, which is good news for both single-player and multiplayer fans. Furthermore, these maps may be much larger than we anticipated; due to these new machines, the developers quite simply needed more room...hence, the existence of things like the Hoverboard. There should also be a much greater variety of battlefields and landscapes in those 40 maps, and if you combine the addition of those monstrous machines, it's clear that Unreal Tournament 2007 is going to have several significant enhancements.
The instant respawns are coming back, weapons are always frequent and numerous, and everything should come together in mind-bending - yet mostly traditional - FPS entertainment. Those weapons, by the way, will boast 40,000 - 50,000 polygons each (almost as many as an entire level in UT 2004). Then you must factor in the more realistic physics engine, which won't allow you to make those 10-foot leaps, and greatly increased AI. Enemies aren't just programmed to dodge shots; they're prepared to hunt you down by much more advanced means.
There's been a lot of speculation concerning the comparison between the PC and PS3 versions, but Epic believes the two versions should be very similar, with a few more effects possible on the PS3. The only real differences should center on control; while the mouse makes sudden character movements easier, the vehicles are more difficult to control with the keyboard. With the PS3 gamepad, the opposite would be true. Either way, it appears that both experiences should compare favorably to each other.
We've already had a delay and Epic remains close-mouthed about an exact release date, but you've got to respect the team's perfectionist mentality. If a particle effect from one puff of dust is out of whack, they're going to take time to fix it. Now, we may have to wait a bit longer, but the end result should be, at the very least, one hell of a ride.
9/20/2006 Ben Dutka