E3 07: Unreal Tournament 3

Posted by: John at 7/18/2007 1:26 PM
Unreal Tournament was a game that Chuck and I logged many hours with after the work day was done. Hitting Midway,we caught up with the latest iteration of the game set to appear this November for the PC and PlayStation 3. At the booth, both versions were available to look at and one the Epic folks took us through the tour of some of the new features.

More after the jump.

Graphics, of course, has had a major upgrade with smoother and more detailed models as well as landscapes. Epic has always tried to push the level of details in each iteration of their engine and the game looks fantastic on both the PC and PS3. The PS3 had some more jaggies but that could be because the game was shown on a large screen TV while the PC version was on a smaller monitor. Other than that, they both looked identical. The demonstrator stressed that they should both look the same and they weren't compromising on the graphics from developing it for the PS3. The animations for the new vehicles are incredibly smooth. One of the vehicles had a Doctor Octopus like walk with the tentacle legs maneuvering in an animal-like fashion. Several vehicles were on display and they all had nice upgrades to their look. The blades on the updated Manta are more defined. The game's definitely pretty to look at and the engine doesn't disappoint.

Customization of the character has taken another level as each armor part can be interchanged on your character. Mix and match as you please and your friends will see the unique design you come up with in multiplayer games. There will be some armor pieces that will be unlockable of course and you can gauge how far the person is in the game based on these armor pieces being used. As with levels, tools will be available for you to create your own custom armor designs. What I like about some of the designs is that it can really change the characters profile so you can see people with large or small helmets and their profile changes accordingly.

New to the series is the hoverboard. Each player has possession of a hoverboard much like the transporter in the old Unreal Tournament games. On the PlayStation 3, you control the way you move via the Sixaxis tilting controls and it looked very natural to move this way. This is the new way to do flag runs as you grab the flag, hop onboard, and jet away. Anything will knock you off the board however and send you flying along with doing 1 point of damage so you're not going to get away too easily on the hoverboard. Originally, the design allowed for the hoverboard to decapitate opponents but this was taken out during play testing as they found that people were not using it as intended. In any case, the hoverboard adds another layer to Capture the Flag as you've now got a faster but vulnerable way to retrieve a flag.

The Onslaught mode is back in Warfare. Some of the maps are huge now for those games where vehicles  the emphasis. When building a link node, you'll see plates fly up to complete it giving you a visual cue on how well the node is doing. Epic is looking into removing most if not all of the text on the node status if the visual cues are detailed enough. During Onslaught there were many times you'd run into a bottleneck where teams would fight for one node for a very long time. The back and forth action can sometimes get a little tedious. A new vehicle however is introduced that will capture the node instantly. (Edit: I think I might have misunderstood about the Orb being a vehicle but there is something that captures the node instantly now. I will update as soon as I get some confirmation.) Now we should see more dynamic interactions between various nodes rather than significant battles over just one or two. While I'm not sure how this will be in gameplay, I am interested to see the ramifications of this new vehicle. The nice thing is Epic has worked hard on Warfare to make it fun and make the levels fun now that they have had a lot of experience with the gameplay.

I touched on the animations of the vehicles earlier and we were shown the old Cicada and two Necrid vehicles. A speeder bike like vehicle was quick but had less than stellar turning. The alt fire though allowed for a self destruct mode that's sure to take out many vehicles on the enemies. One of the tanks for the Necrid is reminiscent of the monsters in War of the Worlds. You could pop up and fire or crouch down. There's a slow turning but a powerful weapon on this beast. Given the design of the tripod legs, it could walk up obstacles easier. I requested a viewing of the Cicada as well and I was pleased to see the old ship back with the locking missiles. All vehicles have a hover mode now so when switching to the secondary guns in the Cicada you're not going to fall to the ground anymore. That makes for those flying solo easier control of the second spot in the vehicle so you can defend yourself from other attacks easier.

In some of the tech demos for the engine, there was a goo like substance that showed some of the effects that the Unreal Engine can achieve. Unreal Tournament 3 actually features that goo as part of your arsenal. You can shoot this big goo block in front of areas and any objects player or weapon will slow down while passing through. Only one's allowed per team so you won't get these levels with goo blocks everywhere. Once the player who deploys it dies, the goo disappears. An interesting strategy is putting the goo block in front of the flag area and seeing if players find going through it straight is worth the risk.

As you have heard by now, MODs can be shared from PC and PS3 allowing console owners to experience all the great homemade content available. You do have to recompile your MOD if you are making it for the PS3 so that it can optimize the code and assets better for the console but you'll get the same experience you would have on the PS3 as you would on the PC.

Unreal Tournament 3 looks like it'll be the same fast paced action that we're used to with some great new features and some awesome new graphics. Epic's on a roll and I can't wait to get my hands on this one in the Fall.