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Previews

Unreal Tournament III

The universe's most brutal tournament is coming home. Let the games begin...

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Firing up a sprawling level dotted with grandiose alien buildings and undulating terrain, we're invited to sample the game's exhaustive collection of vehicles. We didn't need to be asked twice.

I'LL DRIVE
One of the most innovative additions from previous Unreal games was the inclusion of a Hoverboard with which you'll be able to quickly traverse large distances if other vehicles are in short supply. After a shaky start we were soon slaloming through the legs of a hulking Necris Darkwalker (a massive tripod with blistering cannons and a concussion gun fixed onto its underside), before jumping into a nearby Goliath tank and turning the lanky alien machine into scrap metal. Then we turned our attention to a line of approaching foot soldiers and used the Goliath's secondary fire mode - artillery - to take them out of action.

"Many of our vehicles will have multiple stations, which need to work together," states Morris. "We also wanted to add functionality to the vehicles to make them more flexible. For example, the Scorpion is a dune buggy that has a turbo function on it, which allows it to jump over gaps. It also has a kamikaze mode, which can take out other vehicles. You can bail out of it at the last minute before it crashes."

Zoom

Another vehicle that we took for a spin was the hulking Leviathan, which sported a staggering five turrets (each with their own personal shield) and a gargantuan deployable gun that obliterated anything in its path. This slow-moving monster was terrifying to behold, sending massive dust clouds into the air like warning signals to anyone foolhardy enough to stand in its way.

As a collection of enemy Dark Walkers approached our position, their armour plating started to burn and spark from our incessant barrages. "As a vehicle gets hit you'll see the fender buckling and burn damage," enthuses Polge. "Pieces of the vehicle will fly off. However, the damage doesn't affect a vehicle's behaviour, because we want to keep the vehicular combat as fun as possible."

Other war machines we tested included the Paladin - a perfect tool for advanced infantry incursions that acted as a deployable shielded turret with which we could lay down suppressing fire - and the Viper hoverbike, which was both lightning fast and allowed us to bounce shots around corners.

Then there was the Cicada, a nippy hovership that handled like a Porsche on rails and locked onto targets even after we'd passed them. With that, our day of fragging fun came to a close.

Having sampled the game first-hand, it's clear Unreal 3 is shaping up to be something special. While the franchise's absence from our machines may have been a protracted one, the series is looking like it's going to be returning to PlayStation better, slicker and more frantic than ever.

With its stunning arsenal of weapons, countless vehicles, incredible multiplayer action and compelling single-player campaign, Unreal Tournament 3 has the potential to be one of the most complete FPS packages ever And in just a few months' time, you'll be able play it for yourselves.

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