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Unreal Tournament III - hands-on

The Xbox 360 version of futuristic uber-shooter Unreal Tournament III doesn’t have a different name. Its summer 08 release date will put it on shelves more than half a year later than the PS3 and PC versions, but this is largely the same game and not a sequel or greatly expanded version. That’s fine, because it’s a very, very good game and it comes with all the downloadables PS3 and PC players have gotten in the meantime. But 360 fans are entitled to desire something to make up for their wait. Luckily, they're getting it, in the form of split-screen play (online, local, and co-op), two new characters and five new maps. The characters are basically just palette swaps of existing models: Kana is a female Ronin, and Nova a robot-like Liandri beast. But the maps are some serious stuff.

Rails
This sprawling-but-narrow vehicle capture the flag landscape is our fave of the new maps. It's a long, thin corridor in a city-type area with a base on either end. However, snaking along the full length of the area are two suspended tracks, like the kind of elevated commuter train tracks you might see in a city. The tracks are roughly parallel, sometimes turning away from one another but always turning back to meet again.

Now for the kicker: each track houses not a train, but a very powerful, rail-mounted mobile cannon turret that you can commandeer, moving anywhere along the rail at will and blasting the holy crap out of anything and everything you see - people, armored jeeps - even tanks or the other turret. The turrets give the map a real "running the gauntlet" feel, and can turn the place into a real meatgrinder.

Cold Harbor
This Warfare map is designed around an interesting concept. It's a base built into the side of a frosty, ice-covered mountain, and there's one specific node at the top that holds the key to everything.

You see, the two opposing bases on this map are indestructible by any conventional means. However, if you can gain control of that top node, it will trigger the launch of a missile capable of destroying the opposing base. However, you have to hold that node for 60 seconds after the missile's launch in order for the strike to hit. If you lose control too soon, the enemy's missile defense system will kick on and blow your attack out of the sky.

There are also hidden secrets here - the underground caverns carved into the hillside hide nodes that can supply you with air support, and the mountain itself is a tempting hoverboard/snowboard slalom course. Won't win you any points with your comrades trying to take or hold the top node, but it sure is fun.

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