UT2007's Surprise Sneak Peek

Two of Unreal Tournament 2007's bigwigs took the stage at Midway's media event in late February to give the press a small but potent peek at the upcoming PS3 and PC shooter. Throughout the presentation, Mark Rein, vice president of developer Epic Games, stressed that they were showing “a lot of unfinished stuff, a lot of unpolished stuff." Honestly, you'd never know it.

While Rein did announce that the demo was running on a quad SLI rig (that's four blazing-fast NVidia GeForce 7800 GTX video cards running in unison), he was quick to point out that “you don't need all that to play UT." Of course, if you happen to have a few thousand dollars of PC hardware lying around when UT2007 is released, the game will put your PC through its paces. (PS3 owners won't have to worry.)

While showing off a deathmatch level named Carbon Fire, producer Jeff Morris said that the team built gleaming sci-fi environments, but “they felt too clean” and started a process of “grungification” - adding dirt, rust, and other texture elements that give the levels that lived-in look. Carbon Fire takes place in a Liandri robot factory, complete with a protective shield that ripples across the sky when you exit buildings and fight in the outdoor environment. The team is trying to make it feel like a real place, something to offset the sci fi elements that can prove ... well, alienating.

Along the same lines, there's also a push to make UT2007's fantasy-based plasma rifles and high-tech weapons look plausible, as if the engineering could work if they existed in the real world. Expect to see rockets load into chambers and lightning shots recoil with small bolts of electricity that dance around the barrel of the gun. And the less shown on the heads-up display, the better; ammo counters will be integrated into the gun, and even objectives in team-based games, like items that teams are supposed to destroy or defend, are being built so that just looking at them tells you its status. If a power core is protected by a series of floating armored plates, they can take the place of, say, a little green health bar or some other pasted-on icon. If a lot of them are missing, it's almost toast. Get on with the game.


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