Review by CrimsonGear80

"Big, muscular, steroid-induced freaks frag you. What more could you ask for?"

As a PC game, Unreal Tournament has done quite well for itself. When it was moved to consoles, it did OK but not as well. Heck, the last time I actually played an UT game, it was back in 10th grade in computer lab, when someone put the UT1 demo on the computers and everyone would just play LAN games the whole period. So, when I find out that Epic games and Midway are unleashing Unreal Tournament 3 on the PS3, I was generally excited. Who else wouldn't be excited at a fast-paced, sci-fi, multi-player FPS where it's basically shoot first, ask questions later gameplay? The bigger question is, after player such awesome online games like Warhawk and Call Of Duty 4, would UT3's action still appeal to me…or you?

UNREAL STORY

Unreal Tournament 3 does feature a single player campaign with a “story”. You play as a typical, Epic Games steroid-induced hulking main character with a soul patch on his face that must fight aliens, or something. He is joined by other steroid-men and his sister, who is of course smoking hot. Seriously though, you will not care about UT3's story. It is so boring and is told in such a way that you just won't care about it. What I'm trying to say is: it's very generic. It also has a very horrible ending that suggests the next UT will have a horrible story as well. Also, for a game called “Unreal Tournament”, there are no Tournaments to be found here, unless you set up something in online multiplayer. Weird. I guess I was trying to figure out which button on my controller made my character perform a Batista Bomb, rather then give two shakes about the story. Still, UT isn't about story…

UNREAL GAMPLAY

Controls for UT3 are your typical FPS controls, so they shouldn't be too hard to master. One thing I must applaud: UT3 lets you fully customize your controls! Praise Jeebus! Epic also threw in keyboard and mouse support for those who want it, which I'm sure will please the PC elite who decided to get this for PS3 instead of PC.

UT3's single player campaign is basically a training mode for the main event, which is the multiplayer. Basically, all it consists of is you and your squad playing against bots in multiplayer modes with the “story” stringing them together. So when Dave Batista (which is what I will call the main character from now on since I could care less what his actual name is) says its time to go into the city and thin out the enemy numbers, that means it's time for a team deathmatch. The AI of the bots and your squad mates in story mode will mostly depend on what difficulty you play it at. I played it on normal, and the AI for the most part was a mixed bag. Sometimes, the enemy bots (which can usually number from 4 to 6) gave a good fight and forced me into some sudden death moments, while other times I beat them to death in less than three minutes. Your squad AI doesn't really fare as well. While in regular deathmatch modes and in warfare mode (which I will get to in a bit) they seem to be OK, in capture the flag they were hardly any use at all. Basically, a lot of times I would see them just running around the map doing nothing, and when they did actually manage to capture the flag, it seemed like they would rather shoot at enemies then run the flag back to the damn base and score. Of course, this always lead to them getting fragged and the enemy taking back their flag. Also, one of your squad mates will stay at your base to guard the flag from enemies…so of course they would suck at it and pretty much always let the enemy get away. Not very fun when you alone have to both beat your bone-headed allies to the enemy flag AND keep the enemy from getting yours.

However, there is an upside to this, as story mode can be played in co-op mode with up to three other players online. I love how pretty much anyone at anytime can jump into the campaign and replace your dumb AI squad mates. Of course, this may make story mode far too easy on any difficulty, since 4 human players can kick the crap out of sub-par AI any day of the week. Still, it's a very cool feature and could actually make story mode a little more tolerable. Unfortunately, there are no split screen modes in UT3, which will disappoint some.

UT3's multiplayer modes are for the most part pretty common ones. You've got your regular and team deathmatches, regular and vehicle capture the flag modes, and duel mode (1-on-1 deathmatch). The best mode though, in my opinion, in the warfare mode. Warfare mode has two teams attempting to capture various power nodes on a map. Capturing a node is done by either claiming it while it's still neutral, or by destroying it if the other team holds it. Controlling nodes will give the team controlling them numerous weapons and vehicles to use. More importantly, controlling every node on the battlefield will expose the enemy's power core at their base, where you have to go and destroy it to win the match. A nice twist to this mode is orbs, which you can pick up at your teams base, which will allow you to instantly capture a node. Even a losing team can turn the whole battle around by using these, making warfare mode a back-and-forth, exciting affair. You AI squad can actually do some good here, as they captured and re-captured nodes quite frequently.

Lets talk about guns and vehicles. When you respawn, you start off with a cool looking pistol, from there you can pick up some devastating futuristic weaponry such as miniguns, rocket launchers, flak cannons, shock rifles, and link guns. You can even pick up a mini-nuke called the Redeemer and blow up pretty much anything in your way. I found every weapon pretty damn fun to use and you should have no problems blowing people to bloody bits with them. Then we have the numerous vehicles you can jump into, which are available in the bigger maps and while playing warfare and vehicle (duh!) capture the flag modes. They range from single-seat hoverbikes to huge tanks with turrets that can hold up to 5 players! You even get to use some alien rides, like the War Of The Worlds-looking Darkwalkers and the creepy, octopus-looking orb-like Scavenger. Vehicles control pretty well and have very unique weaponry ranging from bombs to lasers. A few can even become invisible for a short time. Players in warfare mode can even do their best Marty McFly impression by using a hoverboard. Just press square to pull the board out, where you will enter third-person view to easily move around the battlefields faster. The downside to this is that at the slightest hit by an enemy weapon, your character will crash and burn, and by the time he gets up he would already have been blown to smithereens. Rounding out single player modes is instant action, where you can pick any multiplayer mode, map, and have it out with up to 15 bots, whose AI you can tweak for bigger challenges. As a matter of fact, playing a bunch of instant action mode stages and shouting in-between each one: “IT”S TIME TO FIGHT DA ALIENS!!” makes for a more interesting story than the actual story this game has.

Now on to the main event: online multiplayer. After creating your own custom character, you'll be on your way to fragging others in no time. It is very easy to customize a search to find whichever type of game your looking for. After that, a list of games is given to you, and all you got to do is choose one and start the carnage. If you choose to host a game, a ton of customizable options are presented to you, such as time and score limits, forced respawning, and whether or not to use bots to fill in empty spots. You can even use mutators, like low gravity or instagib, to spice up your game quite a bit. All in all, you should find something you like everytime you play online.

UT3 supports up to 16 players on every game mode on pretty much every map, and as long as you join a game with a ping count that isn't 4 digits, you should have a fast and frantic lag-free experience. I must say that I have had a few warfare matches that were just godly in how fun they were. UT3 also supports voice chat, the PSN friends list, and leaderboards. The biggest support however is the mod support. Mods are user-created content like new maps and the like that can keep a game fresh for years. Owners of UT3 for the PC can take whatever mods they make with the Unreal Engine 3 tool-set and convert them for use in the PS3 version. If this works out well, then fragging fans will have a TON of things to look forward to in this game. Hell, people who want a fun, fast, and frantic alternative to other online games probably already have much to look forward to.

UNREAL GRAPHICS

Unreal Tournament 3 is one hell of a beautiful looking game. Textures are excellent and the environments are highly detailed and designed. I got fragged many times in the space station stage because I was too busy admiring the damn level. Guns and vehicles all look great and have imaginative designs to them as well. Character models, despite being Epic games trademark hulk-men, are pretty good. The small amount of cut-scenes in the story mode are impressive as well. Although the framerate can take small dips when you're on a map with the maximum amount of bots, most of the time the games runs at a smooth 30fps in 720p. The worst annoyance when it comes to the graphics is the texture pop in that can happen at the start of a match sometimes. Still, overall it's one excellent looking game.

UNREAL SOUND

All the sound in UT3 is pretty sharp, from explosions to gunshots to vehicles. The music in the game is mostly techno-like and really nothing special. Surprising, voice acting is pretty good; it's just too bad it's attached to an uninteresting story. Of course, you'll also have the trademark UT announcer yelling things like “RAMPAGE” and “HEADSHOT” during your matches. Makes good use of Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

A VERY REAL FUTURE

Let's face it: you don't buy this game for it's single player modes. Very fast and fun online co-op and versus multiplayer plus mod support will keep shooter fans very happy for a very long time.

Futher proving that the Playstation Network will eventually become a force to be reckoned with, Unreal Tournament 3 is a must own for anyone who enjoys online shooters. As long as you DON'T expect an epic single player game, you should be just fine.

KEWL
+Fast, frantic, and fun gameplay
+Awesome multiplayer with awesome multiplayer modes
+Mod support will keep things fresh for a long time
+Almost full customization for everything, including controls!
+Beautiful graphics
+Good sound and voice acting
+Tons of replay value

LAME
-Weak single player campaign
-Story? What story?
-Me no like play as steroid generic guys
-AI squadmates and bots can go from decent to awful
-No split screen modes
-Some texture pop in
-The main character wants his rematch (god I hope wrestling fans read this review and get that)


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/29/07

Game Release: Unreal Tournament III (US, 12/11/07)


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