Cicada Cicada - "A two-seat ground attack craft, not as maneuverable as the Raptor, but with a much better climb/dive rate that allows it to quickly duck behind hills to escape incoming fire.

The pilot has control of the side-mounted rocket pods. The rockets can be fired singly at the pilot's point of aim, or the pilot can lock on to an area, load up the rocket pods, and fire off a volley that will seek the target. The second position has remote control of the lower laser turret with a high rate of fire and an impressive coverage area. The turret also has the ability to detect incoming AVRiL fire, allowing the gunner to respond by launching flares to confuse the missles' target lock."

Paladin Paladin - "The Paladin is a prototype forward-attack vehicle recently added to the Tournament for final testing: an all-terrain armored vehicle sporting a single turret with both powerful offensive and defensive capabilities.

On the offensive, the turret throws high-speed plasma cores that detonate on impact, with a large explosive force. It's defensive capability is a directional shield, also controlled via the turret. The shield is strong enough to completely protect a limited area from incoming fire, although it does not stop large objects like personnel or other vehicles. However, the shield's energy matrix is somewhat fragile, and to prevent the projector unit overloading, the energy used to dissipate incoming fire is itself discharged, weakening the shield until the projector has time to recharge."

SPMA Self Propelled Mobile Artillery [SPMA] - "The driver controls the main cannon, which in primary fire mode flies a high-explosive shell wherever the cannon happens to be pointing. Watch out for the recoil. The secondary fire mod launches a special camera shell that the driver can deploy at will to hover over the battlefield. The camera gives the driver a bird's-eye-view of the action, as well as displaying a real-time target reticule that shows where the cannon fire will land. Additionally, shells fired in this mode fragment in the air and release five separate warheads to devastate the entire area.

The passenger is tasked primarily with defense of the vehicle; to accomplish this, they have control of an EMP quanta projectile cannon. This lethal turret makes short work of anyone trying to discourage the driver's important work. It's also useful for clearing paths through crowds of angry enemies, should the driver need to move on in a hurry."

Epic has always done a good job of taking wildly different weapons and balancing them well and did an equally good job balancing the vehicles included in UT2004. They all seemed to counterbalance each other in a paper-rock-scissors sort of way. There's a danger of tossing new ingredients into the mix, but it seems that these fit right in just fine.

The Cicada is lethal to ground forces in the right hands, but is no match for the airborne Raptor. The Paladin is a defensive force to be reckoned with but can be outflanked easily by faster vehicles. The SPMA has devastating long-range attacks, and armed with a gunner in the passenger seat, can fare rather well against ground troops close-by. But it possesses no real countermeasure for the shot of other vehicles, much like the Hellbender minus a rear turret gunner.

What is true is that these three vehicles add a whole new dimension to Onslaught. Epic wisely chose to allow the option of adding the Paladin, Cicada, and SPMA to any of the official Onslaught maps, giving new life to old favorites. Mutators are already available that let you add them to user-made Onslaught maps.

One minor gripe is that when piloting the Cicada, it is very difficult to tell if you have a passenger and just exactly who it is. There are a few minor bugs such as selecting maps certain ways will cause the default vehicle loadout instead of bonus vehicles, the SPMA secondary shot is most evidently a 2D sprite, and a few other small annoyances. But all in all it's good stuff.