Unreal Tournament III

The Leviathan still doesn’t quite match the Necris Darkwalker though. We know you’ve seen a ton of material on these wavy-legged monstrosities - but we promise you that until you fight against them yourself, there’s no way you’ll realize quite how intimidating they are.

In our playtest, we happily nipped around atop our Marty McFly patent-pending hoverboard on the crest of a craggy outcrop, when a previously crouched Darkwalker raised itself to its full height so it popped into view directly in front of us. The encounter ended with a burning death-ray and a beautifully rendered fried skeleton. Oh, and burning trees. The trees got set on fire too…but when?

To wrap things up, the Epic lads showed a final scene of Whisperish - an outcrop of rock hundreds of feet above water on the Necris home world. For some reason, the broken buildings (minus the black tentacles) remind us of some unholy mixture of Alcatraz and the Vatican. As a tower of smoke billows up in the center of the map and pillars flare up with flame in the near-distance to indicate the presence of the Redeemer in their midst, we get to wondering - are we actually going to get to play the finished product this year? As ever, Epic responded to that question with a shrug - it’ll be released when they’re happy with it.

There’s still a lot they refuse to spill on as well. The introduction of deployables for example (something beyond the spider mines of UT2004, although categorically not including auto-turrets, which Epic sees as distinctly “not fun”) - not to mention a number of still undisclosed vehicles.

We loved UT2004 because it seemed to do everything - whatever mood we were in, we could find a map or a mode that slotted into the pleasure-hunting parts of our brain like a missing jigsaw piece. UT3 is pulling the same trick - but has found a remarkable number of areas to drizzle tasty gameplay juices into an already successful recipe. We don’t know whether it’s the hoverboards, the eye-candy or simply the way it delivers instant exhilaration when others specialize in frustration, but it’s suddenly leapt above Quake Wars in our estimation. We like having fun, and Unreal Tournament III really likes being fun. Blood, pain and death aside, it’s a match made in heaven.


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