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AutomoWeird #1

One of the main reasons I’ve been enjoying Unreal Tournament III (aside from the “oh hey, I don’t have to pick a class” relief) is the Scavenger. The Necris vehicles each have their own gunmetal-tentacle thing going on, but the Scavenger seems to be the epitome of what Epic were reaching for in their rendition of Wacky Races: TechnoGoth Edition. It might just be my favourite vehicle in a game, and it’s probably my all-time favourite form multiplayer transport. The reason for this is that it’s completely demented.

While you really have to see it in motion to get the essence of my excitement, this post would look crap without some images. Here ‘s the beast being awesome:

Okay, I know you can’t really make it out. I can only try to convey its nature in words. They are all I have. Click ahoy.

The Scavenger has two modes. One is a kind of deathmatch pinball where you go bouncing around the map in a sphere of energy, thwacking and eviscerating everything in your path. This alone would have been an entertaining to play our vehicular sequences, but it’s actually little more than neat secondary tricky, a gimmick of sorts.

What really does it for the Scavenger is the default mode: the nightmarish gait of the contraption that sends it lurching towards enemies with spiderish eagerness. A blob of energy on legs. You feel like a comedy cartoon villain driving one of these things, and hey, who cares if the overall performance and firepower are low, in a Top Gear round-up this would the one getting Clarkson’s spittle all over it: because it’s weird enough to get excited about. Epic said something about “only in an Unreal game” regarding this vehicle, and the sad thing is that this seems unusual even for them.

Even the attack mode is weird: a lock-on based energy orb electrocution attack. Not exactly alpha-strike, more energy-based trickle-poisoning, or something. Combine that with it’s absurd agility – able to leap up onto ledges and either bounce or clamber its way over any obstacle – and the Scavenger makes the perfect deathmatch ride. And UT3’s huge warfare and CTF maps means that these vehicles really do get a fair crack of the whip without ever being over-powered. Although the tanks piss me off. Boring bastards.

Scavenger pilots of the world, I salute you.

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Jim Rossignol

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