Review by Tassadar_II
Unreal Tournament 3: Its Unreal, but is it really a tournament?
I still remember back in the day, practically camped out upstairs with my gaming pc, blasting aliens back to the netherworld in the original Unreal. From the dramatic opening to the cliffhanger ending, the whole game really shone. Before long, its competitor, Quake, released a multiplayer 'arena' version, and Unreal followed suit with its 'tournament' versions. The newest version has departed from the old: gone are the original ladder and traditional single player modes. But, is this for better or for worse?
Story: The original UT games had a sort of ladder that you fought through. You earned trophies along the way and fought to become champion of the arena. Simple, and sweet. The new version follows the main character, whom you cannot change (this bugs me.) An alien race has invaded his planet, and he is seeking revenge for his fallen comrades. A weird feature is that the characters are all aware of the respawn system, talking about how the new 'portable' editions of the respawning devices have changed the war. This is an interesting addition, and I sort of like the idea. The story is fairly easy to follow, and there are a few places where you can choose two different paths. Your choice doesn't seem to influence the story flow, but it does influence the gameplay, which brings us to the next section. (Score: 8/10)
Gameplay: All of the game modes from the old version are preserved, save for assault mode. The logic behind that is lost on me, but it doesn't really matter. All the gametypes are easy to learn, but hard to master, just like before. The default control scheme makes no sense, but is easy to change. There is a huge number different vehicles, each with its own handling and weaponry. However, the designers seem to have placed certain vehicles on nearly every map and others on almost none at all. There's a wide variety of weapons, and all of the favorites from the orginal game are there. During the campaign, the different optional missions you do usually can make the later missions easier or harder, but the game doesn't really tell you which ones are actually worth playing. Instant action no longer has a ladder system, which I found irritating: it felt like I was shooting at stuff for no real reason. You can customize your character (instant action and multiplayer only) into a variety of forms, which is good. Unfortunately, the customization still isn't on par with the earlier Tournament games, and you'll find a lot of players who look quite similar to you. Additionaly, the some of the maps have environmental effects like sandstorms, which can be used to a strategic advantage. Overall, I can't really find anything significant to complain about except for the lack of a ladder, limited character customizing, and missing assault mode, which are big enough to drop this by two points. (Score: 8/10)
Sound: All of the weapons are easily distinguishable from one another, and the more powerful ones have a satisfying 'boom' to them. The AI taunts are distracting and annoying, but they can be turned off easily. The enironmental sound doesn't always seem to match the map, but its not bad enough to be distracting. (Score: 10/10)
Graphics: The graphics are amazing, plain and simple. The character models have great detail, and the dynamic lighting looks fantastic. The cutscenes in the story mode are a pleasure to view. Whats more, those of you without a powerful gaming rig should still be able to pump out pretty good graphics: the system requirements of this baby are unbelievably low. I was able to run this on a GeForce 9300 with at least medium to high levels on all sliders with no problem. This shows that the game even has a good engine. Antialiasing has been added with an update, so ignore claims to the opposite.The only problem I could find will bother you every time you load a map: textures take a while to load, especially on complicated maps. That alone is enough to drop this two points. (Score: 8/10)
Multiplayer: Multiplayer is a snap, as always. The server browser is easy to navigate, and setting up a server is just as easy as joining one. Multiplayer is one of the most important features of a 'tournament' style game, and UT3 does not fail to deliver. (Score: 10/10)
Replay Value: The campaign alone is long enough to make this a great game to come back to, but the instant action, multiplayer, and achievements make this a definite perfect score. (Score: 10/10)
Overall: Unreal Tournament 3 is a fine game with great graphics and quality gameplay. While the story may alienate veterans of the series somewhat, it doesn't take long to see all that this game has to offer. UT3 is a gem that will have you keep coming back. Do yourself a favor and pick it up today.
Final Score (not an average): 9/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Unreal Tournament III (US, 11/19/07)
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