I wonder if we're on the cusp of a golden age for Unreal Tournament 3 mods, after all these years of Half-Life 2's friendly tyranny. In the last few months we've had Prometheus, The Ball (which I'll also write about later, but I had a headache on the day I downloaded it. No, it's okay - don't weep for me) and now there's Airborn - all doing clever and pretty things with Epic's solid but strangely unlovely multiplayer shootybangbang game. Is this powerful engine gearing up for its community-led day in the sun? Back to Airborn, anyway. It's kind of like Zelda, but with less wibbling on about fairies and more airships.
The immediately odd thing about Airborn is that a very early version of it has been released, but its creators would really rather no-one play it - even refusing to share the download link anywhere publicly. Well, do allow me to do that for you. Unfortunately, it is hosted only at Fileplanet, which made me wait 26 minutes before I was allowed to download it yesterday, bombarding me with ads all the while. Q - is Fileplanet the worst website in the whole wide world? A - Yes, it is. Even worse than those ones with videos about grandmothers and donkeys.
The release isn't anything more than a tech demo wuth a subgke qyest, but it does demonstrate that the rather delightful visual style of the concept art and screenshots is indeed real, and manages to be superbly detailed despite going for a 'toonish look. See?
Oh goddamm you and your broken embed code, Gametrailers. Watch it here.
The two main things to know about Airborn is that it uses almost no UT3 assets - so everything you see in its world is custom-made for it - and that it's a third-person action adventure wotsit. So jumping and thumping, not first-person-shooting. There will be quests, there will be talking there will be flying, there will be steampunk vehicles, and there will be a pogo stick. Also, the lead character appears to be wearing a clock around his neck, like an 80s rapper in a 10 year old child's body.
Is it just me, or is it all evoking Beyond Good & Evil just a little? Hope I'm on the money with that, seeing as BGE2 is currently looking unlikely.
Here's a more official summary:
"Airbørn takes place in a fantastic world, eons after the earth has collapsed from over exploitation. Strangely, the world didn't end, life went on and somehow the people of this world managed to survive and live in a peacefull manner. Well if there wouldn't be kings that still exploit the ressources of the last islands and take even the last bits of usable sources for their good.
We place the player in that world, as Piño a small boy who wants to be a messenger just like his father was. In time he experiences a lot of adventures."
The homepage (in fact a Moddb page with its own URL) cites a release date of September 7th, but I rather doubt that. One to keep a doe eye on, regardless.