Review by Kiriyama_X
"Unrivaled. Undisputed. Unreal."
You can have your Halo 3, your Call of Duty 4, and your Gears of War, but when it comes to multiplayer there is only one undisputed king, and its name is Unreal Tournament. It's been nearly three years since the last Unreal Tournament was released and fresh after pumping out 2006's game of the year Gears of War, Epic Games has dropped the deathmatch bomb on Sony's big black box in what is easily the best PS3 game of 2007.
For those new to the series, Unreal is a futuristic FPS with gameplay that is completely centered around multiplayer. Now let's face it; FPS multiplayers are getting steamrolled out on a seemingly endless conveyor belt of mediocrity these days. What sets Unreal apart is its ballistic pacing and arcade style gameplay. Unlike recent shooters where you need to take the terrain slowly and approach every firefight strategically, in Unreal, if you're not moving it's because you're already dead. This style of frantic action makes every match a white-knuckled, bloody claw to the finish. What really makes the gameplay so thrilling is that it manages to balance it's fast pace without ever being overwhelming. Unreal Tournament III is also one of the rare games where the harder it gets the more fun it becomes.
All of the classic modes return such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Duel, and the highly acclaimed Onslaught mode returns as well (now called Warfare). The Assault mode from UT 2004 has been dropped in place of Vehicle-Capture the Flag, which works exactly as it sounds, capturing the enemy's flag and returning it to your base. The only difference is now the battlefield is littered with vehicles spreading gridlock carnage, and it wouldn't be going out on a limb to say these are the best vehicles seen in any game in years. You'll have old standbys available like jeeps and tanks but even more exciting are visually astonishing walker vehicles that scour the terrain with tentacle-like legs. Yet what really makes the vehicles special are the outlandish and unique weapons they utilize. One of the walkers can retract its legs and roll around in a ball to squash opponents on foot, or a stealth tank can deploy giant force fields or mines across the map.
There's also a single-player campaign that tells the story of a soldier named Reaper who's out to kill the leader of an army called the Necris who slaughtered his entire clan. The story isn't exactly Bio-Shock material but it's told well enough through some very impressive cut-scenes that make it worthwhile. The main purpose of the campaign mode is to train players in all of the game types and maps before jumping online which is where the meat of Unreal Tournament has always lain. The campaign also allows up to four players to play cooperatively through all of the missions. Co-op is always a welcome addition in any game and makes the higher difficulty settings more accessible for beginners. I'd also like to point out how happy I am that Epic Games has kept its computer controlled bots available for playing the multiplayer offline. In an age when every deathmatch game is too lazy to add in CPU opponents, Unreal Tournament takes the time to add them in and make them challenging without ever being cheap.
I've said it for years and I'll say it again, no ones does deathmatch like Unreal Tournament. The reason it excels is because everything works. The weapons are superb, the maps are outstanding, and Epic Games seems to have no limits of imagination in environments. The online works perfectly and no other game on the PS3 provides the visceral action that Unreal Tournament III does in any genre, not even Motor Storm. (And Motor Storm is my favorite racer of all time.) The game is also set to receive full mod support for people to make their own maps that everyone online will be able to play, making the possibilities nearly endless. Epic Games has never shied away from supporting their games so don't expect them to abandon the community Unreal Tournament III in a matter of months like other developers do.
Graphically Unreal Tournament III runs on the, surprise, Unreal engine, the same one that knocked the gaming world dead with Gears of War. This is still the most impressive graphics engine I've ever seen and allows an incredible amount of detail in everything you see without sacrificing its framerate in exchange. The best way I can describe the sound is Thunderous. All of the weapons are loud and pack one hell of a punch. The music is excellent and fits the action perfectly and it just wouldn't be Unreal Tournament without the booming announcer who's here in full force. If you happen to have a fancy sound set-up you'll probably be blowing the panes off the windows in no time.
It was originally believed that Unreal Tournament III would miss its holiday release date and slip into 2008. Yet miraculously it managed to find its way to store shelves just before Christmas and what a gift this is. It's simple; if you love action, you'll love Unreal Tournament III. If you're the kind of gamer that doesn't like shooters or mature multiplayer games, well that's too bad for you.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/19/07
Game Release: Unreal Tournament III (US, 12/11/07)
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