Tabula Rasa updated impressions

Last month at E3, we had a chance to hoist a boomstick and romp through the long-awaited massively multiplayer, sci-fi shoot-o-rama, Tabula Rasa. TR is a new direction for legendary game designer Richard Garriott, the mastermind behind the Ultima series. Garriott wanted to design something completely different than his high fantasy opus while at the same time incorporating important lessons from his two-plus decades of game design.

TR is a furiously paced shooter, but still very accessible for gamers who don't care for twitch-based action. Even though it looks like an aim-and-shoot game, we merely targeted enemies - whether we hit them and how much damage we dealt out depended on how burly our character was. The fun comes in watching the hulking bosses get obliterated, perforated or electrocuted... but first we had to figure out just which way to take them down.

Tabula Rasa is nothing if not an all-star lineup of our favorite weapons: you'll pull the trigger on everything from rocket launchers to frickin' lasers to cryogenic poison cannons. The Bane - your would-be alien overlords and sworn enemies - include armored robots and giant insectoid horrors that have very specific weaknesses.

Teleporting into a waypoint and joining the fight was easy and fast. The Bane are everywhere, so there's always plenty to do. Missions come in bite-sized hunks for a quick fix of action, and we were automatically hooked up via voice chat to everyone in our group.

The starting game is mostly spent just getting the feel of the world and finding out what you like to do most - there are no irreversible skill or class decisions until you hit level 10. Even then, you can "clone" your character at any fork in your development tree, enabling you to go back later and see "what if" without penalty. This should make Tabula Rasa a little more newbie friendly than many MMOs, where one wrong decision can ruin the fun of playing a character.

Fancy a look at Tabula Rasa for yourself? Check outour screens as well asthis new footagethat showcases the high-velocity action. Tabula Rasa has the dreaded "when it's done" due date, but from what we can see, it's getting dangerously close.