ShootMania Storm preview

ShootMania is the FPS expansion of the ManiaPlanet universe, letting players play, create, and share their own maps and game types. The versatility of the editor is what makes the ManiaPlanet games so celebrated--which is why it boggles the mind that Ubisoft did not show the editor off at a recent preview event for the title. Instead, it chose to showcase two playable maps. It's akin to watching Michael Jordan play baseball--it's not exactly what we wanted to see.

I played a few rounds of the game's Battle type, which pit three players against three in a quest to capture points on a map. Immediately, I noticed how incredibly fast ShootMania is. While playing, I couldn't help but think back to the days of Unreal Tournament, with twitchy aim, and a slightly floaty feel to the running and jumping. There's far less gibbing than in Unreal, however, because Nadeo is going for a family-friendly approach to shooting.

The world of ShootMania is an odd one, visually. Brightly colored red and blue armored characters compete against a naturalistic backdrop that doesn't quite mesh. Perhaps Nadeo is trying to take cues from sports, as it certainly feels like it could be a sport from the future. Another odd choice: there's only one weapon: a slow-moving laser that requires you to track your enemies and shoot ahead of them to tag them.

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Unfortunately, without seeing the editor in action, it's hard to get a good idea of ShootMania's potential. Ubisoft's Edouard Beauchemin tells me that although Nadeo currently have about 25 different game modes created, only five will ship with the game. Why? The team wants to only have the best. "We know players are going to create so many," Beauchemin told us. "We just think the pool of talent is so much bigger outside of our studio." Given the thousands of tracks currently available on TrackMania 2, that plan is probably a smart one.

Watch the Shacknews E3 2012 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. This preview is based on a hands-on demo shown at a pre-E3 event.