Many gamers are waiting to see how the new version of Unreal Tournament pans out. Powered by the awesome Unreal Engine 3, it promises the UT gameplay we all know and love combined with superlative-defying graphics. We had a chance to check out the game on Friday, in a behind-closed-doors demo by developers Epic.
Our first thoughts were that the graphics looked disappointing. It's clear that the new engine has some real potential - we only have to look at the jaw-dropping Gears of War for that - but on the PC, in this build at least, things weren't so hot. Despite running on a top-end machine with dual graphics, the frame rate was ropey and there was clearly no room for anti-aliasing to banish the jaggies that plagued the picture. The whole thing looked like it was lacking in the performance needed to up the image quality - clearly, Epic needs to do some work on this before release, otherwise, expect to have 7900 GTX SLI as the minimum specs.
However, the gameplay was another matter. Epic looks like it has successfully fused deathmatch style gameplay with an objective-based storyline. The level we saw combined previous game modes seen in the title - such as Assault, Domination and CTF - with scripted events that created the sense of 'a bigger picture'.
Vehicles play an even bigger part in the gameplay this time around, making the game feel like a faster, more violent version of Battlefield 2. Not only can you run around the massive futurescapes on foot, you can choose to holster your weapon and jump on a Back to the Future style hoverboard to scoot off. Tanks require multiple players to run properly, with one massive beast we saw requiring one driver and four gunners in independently controlled gun emplacements.
There are also walkers, which appear to be based on the massive beasts in War of the Worlds and Half Life 2. These things require some serious firepower to take down, but to crumble spectacularly.
Speaking of spectacular collapses, much of the scenery is also destructable too - firing off a few well-time rockets can result in a massive rockfall which collapses on the poor souls beneath.
Overall, the gameplay looks like it's there, but the team still clearly has work to do to get the performance where it should be. Out before Christmas? We wouldn't bet on it, but we certainly hope so. Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.