Review by Kiriyama_X

"Unreal Tournament establishes itself with authority on Xbox 360"

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 a shame that this game has gone largely unnoticed by PC and PS3 owners and if Xbox 360 owners pass on “Unreal Tournament III” they will be missing out on what is undeniably one of the most exhilarating multiplayer games out there.

For those new to the series, “Unreal” is a futuristic FPS with gameplay that is completely centered on 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 probably 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 deathmatch game on the Xbox 360 provides the visceral action that “Unreal Tournament III”. Gamers who are fed up with slower paced multiplayer games like “Halo” and “Rainbow Six” will find “Unreal Tournament III's” pacing far more to their liking. It's a return to the glory days of deathmatch when “Unreal Tournament” and “Quake” were born and created the mold that all FPS multiplayer games follow today.

“Unreal Tournament III” on the Xbox 360 sports some very nice features and some unfortunate omissions. Many people are asking if it has mod support and the answer is no. Nor does it have customizable character armor either; you're instead forced to pick from a list a various pre-made models. The game does however come with several new maps but most impressive is its split-screen mode which can be played both online and off. This is an outstanding feature and many gamers are going to be overjoyed that it made its way on here, I know I am.

Graphically “Unreal Tournament III” on the Xbox 360 looks outstanding. Everything from the weapons, vehicles and environments are rendered down to the finest detail and make full use of the Unreal 3 engine. That said it doesn't look as good as the PS3 version. Call me a fanboy if you want but it's the truth. The PS3 benefits from a little sharper picture and less texture pop-in than that of the 360. With that said this is still an insanely good looking game with a silky smooth framerate to boot, even in split-screen. The sound is fantastic with ferociously loud weapon effects and a first-class soundtrack by various top-notch composers including Jesper Kyd.

If you're a fan of mature deathmatch games and were let-down by “Quake 4's” less than stellar frag-fest on the Xbox 360, chances are you're going to find exactly what you've been missing in “Unreal Tournament III”. Although the 360's FPS market is already bursting at the seams there really isn't anything like this available on Xbox. If you love “Unreal Tournament” or just love FPS multiplayer in general then you should not pass this game up. It succeeds on all levels, never failing to entertain you and is unquestionably one of the year's best games.

Graphics- 9.5
Gameplay- 10
Sound- 10
Overall- 10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/10/08

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

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