LEIPZIG, Germany--We just got our hands on Unreal Tournament III at the Leipzig Games Convention 2007 and experienced a new multiplayer match type known as Warfare. We also experienced all the chaos and excitement contained in a Warfare match, wherein each side attempts to destroy the other's base. There isn't anything too complex about that, but before you can deal that final blow, you must execute a series of other blows by capturing nodes. When possessed, these nodes will render the enemy base vulnerable.
First, you must capture one of two neutral nodes in the middle of the map. Either of these will open the way to an assault on an enemy base, which must in turn be captured before the attack on the main base can begin. To backtrack a step, there is a third neutral base that doesn't have to be captured but yields powerful vehicles to its champions. Normally, capturing a base takes time, which can be shortened two ways: either with the link gun or an orb.
The link gun is a laser cannon that's part of the standard armory you'll pick up at any of the weapons nodes, which don't outfit you with just one gun, but nearly all of them. While the normal fire of the gun in question is devastating, its alternate fire can repair vehicles or shorten the amount of time it takes to turn a node. An orb, on the other hand, will immediately deliver a node to your possession as long as you deliver the orb to the node. Orbs spawn in your base, and you simply have to make it to an enemy or neutral base with one to capture it. But that's easier said than done because the orb is big and bright; it's a huge bull's-eye hovering right above your back. Enemies who see you with one will do anything they can to prevent you from delivering your powerful payload.
Fortunately, you won't have to schlep long, hostile distances with your orb because thanks to hoverboards, you won't have to do any schlepping at all. That's right, hoverboards are a standard part of every warrior's arsenal and can be hopped onto or off of with the push of a button. Don't get us wrong, you don't find them lying around bases or steal them from other players: You get your very own. And they are unbelievably useful. Although vehicles do routinely spawn at each of the bases, you'll never again be forced to wait minutes for one just for the sake of a ride. That whole, lame element of vehicular online shooters has been completely defeated by the hoverboard.
Aside from its obvious utility, the hoverboard is fun to ride and even behaves a bit like a real snowboard. At one point, we found ourselves going way too fast over what looked like a very fatal drop. It was too late to stop, but because the slope was jagged and uneven, we were able to simply hop down a little to a lower part of the cliff then gradually make our way to the bottom, jump turning, just as you would on a snowboard.
Aside from the board, the only new vehicle we piloted was actually a turret on rails that we used to defend one of our bases. It was mostly a simple matter of blasting away at enemies with its high-powered laser cannons, but it was kind of cool to move along the track to both avoid incoming fire and cover two sides of the base at once. We also jumped in a pretty spiffy jet fighter, although we got shot down by an even spiffier rocket soon after takeoff. We never got to pilot the coolest vehicle we saw because it was coming straight for us under the control of the enemy. It looked like a big, rolling hamster ball, except it had whip chains it could lash about. We don't know what it's called--just that it hurts.
The guns we toyed with were all classic Unreal stalwarts, including the minigun, flak cannon, and rocket launcher. The graphics were, as you might imagine, also stellar, so there's no news on either the guns or graphics fronts. But make sure to stay tuned because as soon as we hear or play anything new regarding this lethal-looking shooter, you'll be the first to know.