You look like Cole Train. Maybe, but at least my mama ain’t a locust.

Epic is clearly interested in making games about burly space marines and their bad-ass weapons, and Unreal Tournament 3 is about as close to this vision as you can imagine. But if Gears of War was a relatively slow-paced, more thoughtful approach to shooters, Unreal Tournament is its jacked-up, circle-strafing, hyperactive twin.

During a 5 on 5 match of capture the flag, our two teams (Red and Blue… so classic) had a garage full of tanks and flyers that faced off down a long bridge. Falling into the water meant you could snag a shock core rifle, but it was slow going to get back to the top. Meanwhile, the flags were hidden in a secured bunker on the starting level, with access on the sides and an escape route through a jump pad in the back.

Getting to the flag was not easy, because all the action was funneled straight down the bridge and into the waiting team. Long distance weapons were hard to come by on this map, but there were plenty of short-term weapons like the shotgun-like flak cannon available.

First the torque bow and now the bio rifle. Epic has innovative weapons down.

For a speed boost, you could hit Q at any time to call up the hoverboard, but getting hit on it meant a few crucial seconds on the ground when you were vulnerable. Also, you couldn’t shoot on the hoverboard, but you could carry the flag. Another neat trick was to feign death with the F button, undergoing an elaborate death animation. The main drawback, however, is that it took a few seconds to get back to your feet.

The vehicles and environments were totally astounding on the high-powered systems we used. The Intel booth at E for All was just filled with great PC games, but Unreal Tournament 3 was noticeably prettier than any game on display (except, perhaps, Gears of War). It’s the same familiar style as Gears, but there hasn’t been a straightforward shooter with this much polish seen so far this year. Of course, when you’re playing a competitive twitch game like Unreal Tournament, you may need to sacrifice graphics for speed, so not all players will have this gorgeous PC experience.

The lighting and attention to detail are right up there with Gears.

Plasma flying and turrets humming, I was still able to make it across the map to deliver the final flag capture. It was pretty thrilling, but after years of capture the flag, maybe action gamers are ready to move on to something new. For what it is, Unreal Tournament 3 looks great and plays very well. Like a big-budget action movie, it’s exciting and pretty, without too much thinking to get in the way.