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Back in 2000, there were two must-have games in terms of frenetic online multiplayer: Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. As to which one was superior, though, debates still rage on in parts of the internet, and I'm not even going to go near that can of worms. At any rate, UT was apparently popular enough for Epic Games to release a sequel, the cleverly named Unreal Tournament 2003, and then another sequel, UT2004, to fix many of the complaints lobbied against UT2003. Not soon after, we saw our first screenshots of Unreal Tournament 2007, and we were blown away by the incredible graphics; anticipation made the wait seem endless. But now, seven years after the original UT, the first public beta demo of UT2007 has been...released!

We reported earlier that the UT2007 Demo was close to release, and luckily our sources did not fail us. The demo includes three deathmatch and vehicle capture the flag maps with support for bots and online play, though the highly anticipated Unreal Warfare mode will not be making an appearance just yet. From posts by users on the Neowin forums, performance seems fairly good for an early release, and we will update as more reports become available. Gamers can grab the demo from Fileplanet, though download speeds have been taking a hit as the download garners more attention.

In one of the more highly anticipated game releases of the year, Valve Corporation has officially released "the Orange Box" to consumers today as both a retail boxed copy and an online download available through Valve's Steam. The Orange Box retails for $49.95 in both stores and online and contains a whopping five games: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode 1, Half-Life 2 Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. Of course, the meat and potatoes of this box is in Episode 2, which continues the story of Gordon Freeman and his allies as they take the fight from City 17 into the wilderness, and Team Fortress 2, the highly anticipated follow up to Team Fortress for Quake and Team Fortress Classic for Half-Life 1. Portal, probably the least known part of the package, is described by Valve as a "game that blends puzzles, first person action, and adventure gaming."

Fans will be happy to note that the Orange Box is thus far holding up very favorably in reviews: PC Gamer gave the compilation a 94% and Gamespot and IGN gave it a 9.5/10.

Halo 3's Matchmaking Playlists, just like Halo 2's, are dynamic and ever-changing entities. Even now in the perilous Bungie towers, we're looking at new hoppers, gametypes and modes to test for future iterations and changes of these playlists. Multiplayer Lead Tyson Green and test wunderkind David Gasca sent the following list of changes to us -- and these changes are live now:

  • Big Team Battle matches are now 16-player affairs
  • In the Team Slayer playlist, the appearance of Shotty Snipers has been greatly reduced
  • Now, when players veto Shotty Snipers, the game that results from the veto will not be Shotty Snipers
  • In one-sided VIP matches, the attacking team will now see a waypoint for the VIP they are hunting
  • In Lone Wolves, Slayer gametypes will appear more frequently