Review by Linkxx3

"Kickass multi-player! Shame about the single-player, though..."

What a classic franchise Unreal Tournament is! Fantastic series, even though It was never my favorite PC MP game as I used to play a lot of Quake (especially Quake III Arena) back in the day. Still, Unreal Tournament was one hell of a MP game, and UTIII does not disappoint. You'll be glad to hear that it's an old-school game and much of the gameplay feels like the classic UT shooters. There are no silly perks, re-generating health and custom abilities in this game like much of the modern online FPS games. It's just straight up badass, fast-paced skill-based competition that really separates the kids and newbies from the adults and veterans.

Now, this may be a MP game at heart, it still offers a single player campaign mode. EPIC promised a campaign that had an actual plot and was enjoyable to play through, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's not that bad, because it's essentially a MP game with bots instead of actual single player missions. It can be fun, but it's just a poor excuse of a campaign, really. There are some really interesting and well-detailed cutscenes in the campaign, though.

The story of the game isn't too bad either, but it kind of fails to attract your attention and make you care about the characters and what's going on. I'd say it's about as weak as the original Gears of War plot. It's clear that EPIC Games have always been MP-based, so I'll forgive them for the weak storylines.

The gameplay of UTIII is definitely its strongest area. The game is just a blast to play whether you're 'gibbing' (God, what an awesome word...) bots or fellow human players. It's so fast paced and exciting that it's hard to really put down the controller just to take a deep breath. That's how intense it is. With a good variety of game modes (CTF, death-match, vehicular modes, etc.), unique weapons and PLENTY of maps for each game type, it's really the ultimate online FPS game. The bad part is that there don't seem to be many players online, even when I first bought the game (July 2008). The MP isn't even as popular as Gears of War, which is kind of disappointing since Gears' MP mode was included at the very last minute whilst UTIII has a very well-made and balanced MP mode.

Anyway, that doesn't really change the fact that it's a fantastic game. You can still play with bots as I've mentioned earlier, and these bots are ****ing hardcore as well. There are 10 difficulty levels for the bots and even the lower levels are pretty difficult. Expect to get your ass kicked time and time again, but that's part of the fun, really! The game provides awesome challenge and difficulty, without bordering on cheap tactics and whatnot. Overall, the AI of the bots is very impressive.

You can also tweak the matches by using the Mutators within the game. Mutators basically change minor features of the game and how it plays. There are a couple of gimmicks such as 'Big Head', 'Low Gravity' & 'Insta-Gib', but there are some pretty cool ones such as 'Slow-Mo kills'. This one is pretty damn epic, especially after headshots. The headshot effects are just some of the best in gaming, and watching them in slow-mo is glorious.

Besides the awesome weapons in the game, there are also lots of vehicles that you can use, although I can't talk much about them, because I rarely play the vehicular modes. All I can say is that they do add more to the matches and most of them are unique and balanced in their own ways.

Just how difficult is it to adjust to such a shooter after constantly playing games like Call of Duty and Halo? Whilst Halo is fast-paced to a degree, there is still a strategic element there and Call of Duty was a pretty basic, yet fun MP game before the release of MW. Then it became a cheap gimmick, but the match-making system is brilliant...I'll give them that much credit. Anyway, this game isn't that difficult to get the hang of. Just don't expect any strategy or hell, even camping in this game, because they won't get you anywhere. No strategy here, but it is still a skillful game and it'll take a while to master. Fast reflexes and motions here are king, and that will pretty much help you rack up kills like it's nobody's business.

Not only is the game fun to play, but it also looks gorgeous. UE3 is an excellent engine and has some of the best textures and character models (even though they are kind of the generic hulking badasses, but the designs are still great) around, if you ask me. Each of the maps has a unique look to it, and it adds to the immersion that you're fighting in these lush forests, massive space stations and ominous sanctuaries...and those are just some of the environments you'll find this game. There are even some levels that have three different environments that you can leave and enter at will. That map is just genius. The gore also looks very detailed and gruesome. Not as detailed or as brutal as in Gears of War, but better than most games on the market.

So yeah, it looks and plays great. That's all fine and dandy, but how is the audio quality? It's nothing spectacular, to be honest, but it does sound great. Who doesn't love the sound of some of the weapons and the way they rip into the flesh of your enemies? Music-wise, I'm not sure if I remember any memorable tracks from this game. I know that fans of the series like the music, but UTIII seemed to be lacking any good tracks. I just don't remember anything that did sound appealing in the campaign or otherwise, so I'd say the music is forgettable. Overall, the sound effects are nice. Voice acting is alright, but the music lacks that 'epic' feeling...or maybe I've just been playing too much Halo or something.

Unreal Tournament III is definitely worth your time as an FPS enthusiast and as a MP gamer. It's certainly one of the most unique shooters released on the Xbox 360 and has a very appealing old-school feel to it. Lack of online players is disappointing, but playing with the bots is still a blast. Overall, the game is just a nice change from all of the other 'super-serious' online shooters. You can just pop in UT3 and have a blast without a care in the world about your rank and status online.

Overall, single player is mediocre, but you can't go wrong with the MP. Well worth a purchase.

Pros:

+Weapons look, feel and sound devastating
+Vehicles are a nice addition to the game and are well varied
+Plenty of maps, and the majority are fun to play in
+Bots provide a decent challenge
+All of the game modes are great. CTF is especially awesome. Enough said
+Good variety of skins for your character
+Breath-taking graphics
+Gameplay is seriously addictive and enjoyable

Cons:

-The campaign is a huge disappointment and is essentially MP with bots
-Story is weak and not compelling in any way
-Voice acting isn't the best
-Lack of players on Xbox LIVE is rather sad, but that's really not the game's problem


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/10/10

Game Release: Unreal Tournament III (US, 07/07/08)


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