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games: unreal tournament iii
War of the worlds.When the first Unreal Tournament arrived on November 1999 it was something of an unknown quantity. Having launched against the massive Quake III, no one was sure whether it would be able to compete. Doubts were rapidly cast aside as the game revealed a huge audience and became one of the classics of multiplayer online combat.
The sequel and quasi-sequel, Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004, consolidated the concept and made Unreal Tournament one of the most competent technological showpieces for gaming software on any format. Now, with the smash hit Gears Of War under their armoured belts, Epic Games are going back to the Tournament and releasing what might be the most visually impressive game of all time: Unreal Tournament III.
Once again it's a combat game based around arena battles, assault missions and territory-based play modes. There are some spectacular new weapons (such as a field that locks sections of the battlefield in slow-motion) and some absurd vehicles, including hoverboards, War Of The Worlds-styled walkers, and a jet-propelled motorbike that turns into a giant torpedo. Old favourites return with some pep too: rocket launchers and flak-cannons are more brutal and more dangerous than ever before.
What's perhaps a little unexpected is that Epic have elected to tie the traditionally disparate battles together using a cinematic story mode. It's the tale of huge angry men in space, out for revenge and destruction. No surprise there then, but we can't help wondering whether the phenomenal success of Gears Of War has inspired this move towards storytelling, when Unreal Tournament had always previously been framed as something more akin to a sport. Perhaps Epic are returning to the sci-fi roots of Unreal and trying to do a bit of world-building for future games.
Whatever the motivation for these subtle changes, we can expect a polished and impressive game to arrive on our PCs soon, with the next-generation console versions following close behind.
Unreal Tournament III will be released in November 07 on PC, and early 2008 on PS3 and Xbox 360.
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