Infogrames plans to release its long-awaited title Unreal Tournament 2003 in Europe by Christmas.

Softline will distribute the £39.99 game in the UK. A first-person shoot-em-up in a sci-fi universe, Unreal Tournament 2003 is aimed at multiplayer gaming fans, whether online or over a Local Area Network.

The title has won critical acclaim. PC Gamer says it is “beyond anything you’ve seen before – it’s the new face of futuristic combat”. The title has been nominated for a Golden Joysticks 2002 award as the most-wanted game for Christmas.

Features include a multitude of weapons, 35 characters, six races, 30 maps and numerous tasks. The PC version offers “advanced in-game physics, for powerful graphics”, Infogrames claims. The game includes special moves, adding an unpredictable element to game play.

The game is built on the Unreal Engine – like the Quake engine, this is a bespoke piece of coding that forms the core for other titles. Developed by Epic Games, the Unreal code is often updated, so gamers can expect state-of-the art special effects and ambient environments.

The action is set in a futuristic universe in which humans are subjugated and dissidents forced to fight in vast gladiatorial tournaments. Death is no escape – alien technology resurrects the gladiators to fight again,

Players battle against computer-controlled ‘bots’ in single-player mode or against others in multiplayer.

System requirements weren’t known as Macworld went to press, although high-end Macs are recommended.