UT2007's Surprise Sneak Peek

Three new vehicles were shown for the first time at the conference as well. First up was the Paladin, a defensive eight-wheeled turret truck with a translucent, energy shield. The plasma-style shield only protects about one-eighth of the vehicle at a time, but it can be rotated. The second vehicle was a long-range artillery nicknamed "the spam" thanks to its targeting system: Fire a rocket-propelled camera into the sky, then use a cursor to select and blast targets on the ground. That way, you can nail enemies far out of visual range with deadly accuracy. Finally, the team unveiled the Cicada, an aircraft packing twin fans in the wings to let it hover and some very nasty lock-on missiles. Even if you turn tail and run, if you've locked onto a target, your missiles will pull a 180-degree turn and go where you wanted them to go.

The developers ended the sneak peek with a look at some character models of two of the teams that will compete in the tournament. The Twin Souls might wind up as the single-player campaign team; they were humanoids with red, leathery armor twisted around what looked like a futuristic take on carbon fiber. Packing more heavy metal was the Iron Guard faction, whose armor looked scruffy and worn, as did their flesh - one character had a huge, detailed scar on his head that the developers pointed out would not have been possible with the previous version of the Unreal engine. In fact, the characters are a stunning 1500 times more detailed than the ones that appeared in Unreal Tournament 2004.

No photos were permitted during the presentation, but Midway sent along a few screens of the Twin Souls and a fourth vehicle that was not part of the demonstration, the Hellbender armored truck (seen above). For the rest, you'll have to use your imagination until we can pry some fresh visuals out of Epic. Hopefully we'll see some more stuff as E3 draws near.