New Unreal Tournament details

New voice commands, unique characters, millions more polygons and improved online options for the next version.

Unreal Tournament developer Epic Games has unveiled more details of the next instalment in the series - explaining why it might not be called UT 2006.

Speaking in an interview with 1Up.com, lead designer Steve Polge says that the new UT game will mark "a real generational change."

"This is a completely new game, new engine. All the code is really being rewritten. No assets from UT 2004 appear in here again," he says.

"In fact, in terms of how the games have evolved, this is more of a leap, I would say, than the original Unreal Tournament to UT 2004."

The game is being developed using the new Unreal Engine 3, which will see the polygon count rise from thousands to millions and allow for a much deeper single-player mode.

The team members you command are much more individual characters now - they all have unique strengths and weaknesses that determine which tasks they're best at. Learning who's who is a matter of interacting with them as the game progresses.

"I think a really good way of bringing out their personalities is having them interacting with each other, bantering with each other," says Polge.

"So if you're doing a flag run, you can hear what's going on back at your base because guys are shouting to each other where the enemy's coming from and what they're doing to prevent it."

In addition, you can now control bots using voice commands instead of the menu system.

"Each level will have specific locations that you'll be able to use voice command to tell the bots to act on, so you can say, 'Go cover the cavern,' and they'll know what that means," Polge explains.

"They'll also be a lot more responsive, so you'll be able to ask them questions about their status: 'Is there anybody down in the cavern?' 'No, cavern's all clear.' Or you can throw out warnings like, 'There's a sniper on the tower. Go get the sniper.'"

There's also a new mode, currently going under the name of 'conquest', that will take the place of assault mode. We're promised a maps up to three times the size of onslaught maps, and there'll even be a bit of resource management involved.

Other changes include less bouncy character movements, making for more close-quarters combat during deathmatches, and a new system that pairs up opponents according to player stats for fairer online battles.

"It's more fun for the experts and it's more fun for the novice players if everybody else playing with them is about the same level," says Polge.

"We'll have a quickmatch kind of thing, where you hit a button and it finds a server that's about the right level with the best ping and sticks you on there. Or we'll have lobbies where you can go in and talk to people and join a game."

The next Unreal Tournament game is slated for a release next summer. You can read the full 1Up interview here.

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