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WarPath

We're going on one to bring you latest word on Digital Extremes' intriguing multiplayer shooter

Three alien species, one utopian world rich with minerals and life-giving goodness. You'd think they'd all sit down together round a table and talk things out, wouldn't you? But oh no - there's a war brewing, and of the three alien races fighting for possession of the planet Kaladi, only one will win.

The premise of WarPath is one we're not sure we've seen before on Xbox. There are no good or bad sides - just three distinct reasons for wanting to own Kaladi. The Ohm want to stake a claim on its lands as a matter of faith, the Kovos need it to sustain their society's way of life and the Coalition need it to start afresh - their world is dying and they need a replacement. Choosing which society to play as is, therefore, a question of who you believe should own the planet, as much as a matter of who you think packs the baddest guns, of course.

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Speaking of which, there'll be eight different types of weapon, all blessed with suitably sci-fi/ macho names, such as the 'Wolverine', 'Tyrant' and 'Vibro Blade' (ahem, plasma sword). What's more, while they all belong to different factions, if it can be picked up, it can be fired. Taking an alien weapon into your own arsenal will cause interesting things to happen, as - depending on which upgrades you apply to it - it can become more powerful, with better fire rates and stronger ammo. In order to balance this, using an alien technology will take time to master, but once you've nailed it, the look on an enemy's face when you blast him to bits with his own weapon should be priceless.

WarPath is an interesting breed of game as well. Expected to be released at a budget price, it came about after the Pariah development team started tinkering with that title's code for their own entertainment, and accidentally produced something good enough to turn into a separate release. Just because WarPath is something of a hybrid game, though, doesn't mean Digital Extremes has skimped on the multiplayer and online aspects. In fact, it's primarily multiplayer focused, with deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag modes included, as well as a 'Frontline Assault' feature, which translates to that old favourite, last man standing. It's in a good position to become our new lunchtime favourite...

There are 25 multiplayer maps in total, all of them spanning the much-coveted Kaladi system. From vast industrial playgrounds to wide-open valleys to the claustrophobic confines of power plants and landing bays, there's a map in there for just about every FPS fan. Some of the larger maps seem too big for walking across as well, which rather suggests that a little vehicular action might well be included somewhere along the line. Up to 16 space jarheads will be able to bound about blasting the hell out of each other too - a sufficiently meaty number to more than allay those 'budget' fears that might be creeping up on the more sceptical among us.

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We'll have more screens, news and a hands on coming soon, but the chances are that if you like the highly ambitious Pariah and love a little Halo 2 now and then, it's going to be right up your street. Final proof that budget games can be corkers? We'll let you know once we get down and dirty with the developers and pester them into revealing more secrets!

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