E3 06: Unreal Tournament 2007 Impressions

The latest chapter in the Unreal Tournament series is coming to the PC and PS3, and we saw what's new at E3.


Unreal Tournament III

LOS ANGELES--Midway and Epic Games showed off a bit more of Unreal Tournament 2007 at E3, and we got a good glimpse of the new warfare game mode, which is described to us as a blend of the existing assault and onslaught modes found in current Unreal Tournament games.

The game will feature two sides--The Axon and the Necris, an alien race--and the battles between the two will feature both infantry combat and vehicular combat. In terms of content, Unreal Tournament 2007 won't have as much as the 2004 version of the series, which featured upgraded versions of practically every official level made for Unreal Tournament. That's because the leap to the next generation requires a lot more work for maps. That said, we're told that there will be a large number of maps and vehicles available in Unreal Tournament 2007. For example, we saw the Axon's Leviathan, which is a huge wheeled transport/tank with four individually manned turrets. Each turret has its own shield, and it can be destroyed separately. Meanwhile, the Nemesis is the Necris' walking main battle tank, and it looks awesome. It can seat two players, one controlling the weapons underneath. It sort of looked like one of the Martian war machines from War of the Worlds, and it appeared almost organic.

The new warfare game mode is a bit complex, but it's designed to keep players working together as a team. Warfare maps are asymmetrical, and both teams have distinctly different goals. One team may be tasked with destroying something, while the other team may be tasked with defending it. You'll often have to battle to access a conduit that will give you a power orb, and you can then transport the orb to another location to use it to unlock objectives, such as powering up a sentry gun to blast the enemy to pieces. As usual, you can play this mode with bots or with other players, and the levels will max out at about 32 players.

One of the new features shown to us was a hover board, which will be useful if you find yourself caught without a vehicle far from the battle. Instead of having to hoof it on foot, you can jump on your hover board and zoom quickly to the fight. The downside is that you won't be able to use weapons when in this mode, so you won't want to ride the hover board in combat, because you'll be an easy target, and if hit, you'll tumble off the board, leaving you even more vulnerable.

The PlayStation 3 and PC versions of the game should be fairly identical, though Epic is, of course, making adjustments to the console version to accommodate the gamepad controller. Still, other than that, the power of the PS3 means that the PS3 version looks just as good as the PC version. Meanwhile, the PC version will have built in support for the Aegia physics card, which will result in more impressive explosions when something blows up, though its impact is mainly cosmetic. It'll be more useful for online servers, since the server has to calculate all the physical reactions in a match. Still, it's not necessary, since the game will ship with decent physics if you don't have a physics card. Unreal Tournament 2007 is due out early next year for the PC, and details on the PS3 release aren't yet available.

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