The Unreal franchise has had a comfortable home on the PC for many years. On the other hand, Unreal Tournament 3 is the first game from the franchise to hit a Sony console since the original Unreal Tournament landed on the PlayStation 2 in 2000. PlayStation 3 owners will be thrilled to hear that this version of UT3 is for the most part everything the PC version was when it was released in November. Aside from some online hiccups, it is fast, furious, and fun to play, and never fails to impress from a visual perspective. As a result, it stands up favorably against the other strong multiplayer shooters available on the platform.
There are a number of good ways to play Unreal Tournament 3. If you are new to the series, you'll probably want to start with the campaign. Rather than the traditional single-player mode you're used to, you'll fight against computer opponents in a series of matches that are bundled into an inconsequential story and basically meant to prepare you for the online portion of the game. You can also play against bots on the multiplayer maps, though the meat of the experience is found online, where you can compete against up to 15 others. There are several modes available: traditional deathmatch and team deathmatch; a one-on-one deathmatch mode called duel; capture the flag, with and without vehicles; and warfare mode, in which two teams compete to destroy each other's power core. From a content perspective, the PlayStation 3 version is identical to its PC counterpart. For more information on what that gameplay entails, you should read our PC review of Unreal Tournament 3.
Of course, there are some technical differences between the two versions, despite the fact that the gameplay experience is essentially the same. On the visual side of things, the PS3 version looks absolutely fantastic and features high-quality character and weapon models, detailed textures, and great lighting and shadow effects. As a rule, it runs at a fairly speedy clip throughout, with some occasional slowdown only when there are a lot of effects onscreen at a given time, though it doesn't happen enough to be annoying. For the most part, our online matches tended to be free of frustrating lag, provided that we chose servers with a low ping. However, this wasn't always the case. Even in dedicated servers, we encountered moments of noticeable lag. Likewise, even when things were running smoothly, we often found that there were noticeable delays when cycling through weapons. This was not common, and most matches were smooth, hitch-free experiences, but it's an issue worth noting--particularly when there are rather few servers available at any given moment. The game supports voice chat as well, and we used both USB and Bluetooth headsets with no noticeable problems.
You should also note that you can play with a mouse and keyboard on the PS3, which works reasonably well, though these controls don't feel as responsive here as they do on the PC. Thankfully, the Sixaxis controller does a great job of keeping up, and the control mappings are intuitive. You can also choose to filter out games that allow mouse and keyboard controls, so you needn't worry about those players having an unfair advantage in a given match. There is also room for modders and map makers to create downloadable maps, though the tools to create PS3 content have yet to be released, so there isn't any user-created content available as of this writing.
What's most impressive about Unreal Tournament 3 on the PS3 is how at-home it feels on the platform. The visuals look great and keep up splendidly, and the action is intense and satisfying. Even with such fantastic options as Warhawk and Call of Duty 4 at your disposal, UT3 is worth a purchase for anyone who likes to shoot guns in video games.