“One thing we’ve always found is that science-fiction kicks ass,” claims Unreal Tournament III’s characteristically exuberant producer Jeff Morris. “It’s so liberating to be able to go in and say stuff like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if the giant robot fought the giant lizard thing?’ We don’t have to worry that the thing never actually existed - we’re not trying to do the Wehrmacht in 1944.” No, they’re most certainly not. Despite the occasional nod to reality, the vibrant, fast-paced world of UT has always had both feet in the somewhat surreal, with more of a focus on fun, instant gratification than its more humorless rivals.
“UT is a very ‘short time to spectacle’ game,” agrees Morris. “When you spawn there should be a cartwheeling, exploding vehicle and two guys dogfighting in front of you. Forget walking anywhere!”
The thing is, less than half the people who bought the previous outing, UT2004, simply did not connect their musclebound deathmatches to the Internet, so by way of response Epic is upping their single-player adventures considerably. We’re talking proper characters, dialogue, branching storylines, twists, turns and general narrative trickery - something you might think difficult given the game’s inherent frag-fest setup, but not so. Once again, the kick-ass nature of science-fiction saves the day…
“The key piece of military technology in this time is the ‘respawner,’ which allows military forces to come back to life over and over,” explains lead designer Steve Polge. “What that’s done is changed military combat from being between large armies to being between small units of highly trained soldiers, who know that they have infinite lives and know that they can throw themselves at something.” Life, then, is dispensable - yet not always infinite since maps might see the destruction of the enemy’s respawner. Or the respawners may only be capable of giving life to combatants a certain number of times before they hit their limit. Their “frag limit.” Do you see? Do you SEE?