Itís a game thatís been in development for quite a while but this week FiringSquad was one of the lucky few media outlets to be among the first to sit down and actually play Unreal Tournament 3 (formerly known as Unreal Tournament 2007) for the very first time. At Midwayís press event this week, developer Epic Games set up a 4x4 CTF tournament with one of UT 3ís maps and we played several rounds with other journalists while checking out the new vehicles and the revamped weapons.
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.