Summary: JCal sits down with a copy of Unreal Tournament 3 and schools some fellow press editors in good FiringSquad tradition. Oh, and he managed to get some notes to pass on to you in this preview!
UT 3ís name change came about because Epic Games didnít want people that the game was simply a slightly improved chapter in the series but an all new title. According to Epic producer Jeff Morris, the game will have a more cohesive storyline than previous games in the series. You will be playing one pre-set character that not only has to deal with the futuristic and bloody tournament from the Liandri Corporation but also an all out war from the alien Necris. Thatís pretty much all he would say about the storyline but itís at least comforting that the single player portion will be more than just bot matches through the gameís map.
Of course, multiplayer will be the bread and butter of UT 3 and modes like Deathmatch, CTF and the new Warfare game. Morris told us that Warfare combines elements of UT 2004ís Onslaught mode with the classic UT Assault mode. However, thatís not the kind of mode or map that was set up at the Midway press event. Epic wanted to have something that people could pick up and play easily so they had a vehicle based CTF map (with an Asian art theme) ready to play. The level itself was relatively average in size, with lots of different paths for players to take to get to their objective. We saw new versions of the familiar weapons and power ups stations (power ups include the always fun double damage) and one path includes trying to go through the levelís water wheel that took out more than one unwary player.
Fans of the series will be happy to know that many of the weapons from the former game make a reappearance in UT 3, from the bio gun to the shock rifle to the rocket launcher, and all of course have alternate fire modes. Naturally, the weapons have gotten a art revamp for UT 3; one of our personal favorite UT 2004 weapons, the flak cannon, now has a anime redesign that looks almost organic in nature in first person mode. One new weapon is the stinger, a kind of replacement for the mini-gun that in its alt-fire mode fires projectiles that can impale enemies to the wall.
And what about the vehicles? The biggest additional feature in UT 2004 makes for a big comeback in UT 3. Old favorites like the big Goliath tank, the small one man Scorpian buggy, and the one man hovecraft Manta make new reappearances in UT 3 along with the two man Hellbender ATV. The new additions in our press demo map are the new Necris vehicles. There were three to choose from. One was a sleek one man hovercraft that not only moves fast but can actually fly (or more accurately float) if you are moving fast enough and push down the Space button. We used it to get from one side of the map to the other pretty quickly. It has an energy weapon in the form of a burst that actually ricochets around the levekís walls. This is perfect if you have a target inside a rather enclosed space.
In playing several rounds in the UT 3 CTF map we found that the game was a little more faster paced than previous games in the series. Having the hoverboard option helped a lot in getting around the map quickly when a vehicle wasnít available. We do think that at least at the moment the Necris vehicles are slightly more powerful than the Liandri counterparts; we hope that Epic will do some more balance testing to rectify this. Visually UT 3 uses Unreal Engine 3 (as does many of Midwayís other upcoming games) so the game looks terrific with great looking character and weapon models and impressive lighting and visual effects. There were some nice little art touches like seeing leaves occasionally blowing around in the air and black smoke coming out of the Hellbenderís exhaust ports.
Epic is planning to release UT 3 for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in addition to the PC, and Morris told us that all three versions will have the same content (the press demo was played on a Dell XPS 710 PC). There is no word yet if Epic will allow players of the PC and Xbox 360 versions to play against each other. Morris did confirm that Epic will release a multiplayer demo of the PC version before its release but could not confirm if the same will be done for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. Of course, people who donít want to play online can always play against bots and Steven Polge is back once again to breath AI life in the bots. And yes, the ďdouble killĒ and ďrampageĒ awards for killing more than one enemy are back as well.
Of course, there is a lot more about UT 3 that Epic isnít discussing yet and in the months leading to its release we plan to find out and hopefully play more of the game than just a few minutes at a press event. However, based on our brief time in our vehicle CTF map demo, fans of the previous two (or three if you want to get technical) games in the series should be getting excited by the new titleís prospects. Unreal Tournament 3ís faster paced gameplay and new vehicles are just flat out fun to experience and we canít wait to get our hands dirty playing the new Warfare mode. Look for a lot more info on Epicís next multiplayer shooter in the very near future.
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