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Unreal Tournament III

Will Porter visits the home of Unreal and generally makes a nuisance of himself

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At the risk of using two Back To The Future references in close proximity, it was almost exactly like the bit in Back To The Future II where Biff stands on the top of his hotel and is thunderstruck by the sight of the De Lorean appearing over the lip of the building. Only this time the encounter ended with a burning death-ray and a beautifully rendered fried skeleton. Oh, and burning trees. The trees got set on fire too...

To wrap things up, the Epic lads show me a final scene of Whisperish - an outcrop of rock hundreds of feet above water on the Necris home world. For some reason, the broken buildings (minus the black tentacles) remind me of some unholy mixture of Alcatraz and the Vatican.

As a tower of smoke billows up in the centre of the map and pillars flare up with flame in the near-distance to indicate the presence of the Redeemer in their midst, I get to wondering - are we actually going to get to play the finished product this year? As ever, Epic respond to that question with a shrug - it'll be released when they're happy with it.

There's still a lot they refuse to spill on as well. The introduction of deployables for example (something beyond the spider mines of UT2004, although categorically not including auto-turrets, which Epic see as distinctly 'not fun') - not to mention a number of still undisclosed vehicles.

I loved UT2004 because it seemed to do everything - whatever mood I was in, I could find a map or a mode that slotted into the pleasure-hunting parts of my brain like a missing jigsaw piece. UT3 is pulling the same trick - but has found a remarkable number of areas to drizzle tasty gameplay juices into an already successful recipe.

I don't know whether it's the hoverboards, the eye-candy or simply the way it delivers instant exhilaration when others specialise in frustration, but it's suddenly leapt above Quake Wars in my estimation. I like having fun, and Unreal Tournament III really likes being fun. Blood, pain and death aside, it's a match made in heaven.

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