Low grav – instagib – double speed – ctf – plzkthx.

User Rating: 8.5 | Unreal Tournament III PS3
Being a refugee from the PC world is a difficult thing, but for mostly financial reasons I have forsaken the wild, wild west of mods, over clocking and buying more ram for the stable and easy world of consoles. While it is nice to not have to buy a new video card every year there is one specific item that I have missed more then anything else: mouse and keyboard controls. There can be little argument about 'if' mouse and keyboard are superior to a controller for shooters, the only argument is 'how much,' and even then lots will suffice. Imagine my surprise when Epic and Sony decided that they would allow Unreal Tournament 3 to be played correctly on a console (something that Microsoft will not). It was for this reason alone that I played it, and I am very glad I did.

Unreal has had a dodgy history on consoles. Unreal Tournament came out on PS2 right after launch at it was terrible. Unreal Championship was an approximation of the PC game for the Xbox, but it was okay at best. Unreal II also came out for Xbox, but that game wasn't much to speak of in the first place, and the transition to console did it no favors. The hurdle has never been graphics or content, but control. UT is fast. Really fast. To fast for a gamepad, and slowing things down to where it is controllable on a thumb stick breaks the game. UT 3 is all about running (or driving, or flying) around a level with your hair on fire while shooting and being shot at. The PS3 port of the PC version is the first to finally get it all right.

UT 3 on the PS3 looks as good and runs as well as the game on any monster PC. There is an option to install a fair amount of the game on the PS3 hard drive which cuts the load times down significantly. All the levels and game types from the PC are here as well; nothing has been cut content wise. The one thing that has been downsized in the transition is the player limit. It was 32 on the PC and is only 16 on the PS3. On the small maps this is not a problem, but the big vehicle capture the flag and warfare maps it can get a bit empty. UT is all about the action, and as soon as the action wanes and things slow done the games few warts begin to show.

UT 3 suffers from the same texture pop in the Mass Effect does, though it is limited to the first few seconds on a level and then never reappears. It also looks a heck of a lot like Gears of War. This is not surprising (Epic loves their bald space marines) but dingy industrial areas tend to blend together after a while. The outdoor levels are a welcome change, and are where the best parts of the game take place anyway. Death match is just no frills shooting; fun for a while, but without any sort of reward system (CoD4) there is little reason to continue there other the pwning controller using noobs, and even this abuse is curtailed by sever settings that can disallow keyboard and mouse. Vehicle capture the flag and warfare (the replacement for onslaught from 2004) are much better. They reward both teamwork and individual skill, and the vehicles are both abundant and varied enough to keep things interesting and fun.

In the past the PC gaming community has produced almost limitless content for UT. Mods like jailbreak coupled with new mutators and levels kept UT 2004 fresh for years. The PS3 does support user made PC levels, sort of. As of writing this review new levels cannot be download directly through the PS3, instead they have to be stored on a thumb drive and moved over. No big deal, thumb drives are so cheap they come in cereal boxes. The other, much more significant problem is that user made levels can't actually be used on the PS3 yet. They have to be 'cooked' with some code from Sony that is not available to the general public yet. Epic has remedied this by choosing a few good levels and taking the steps to make them work. This entire process needs to be streamlined for the game to have any legs.

What UT 3 gains over games like Halo and Call of Duty in pure speed and game play it looses in depth. Without a steady stream of new content to keep it fresh it will get old, and this is not helped by it's lack of single player content or player advancement. Shooting bots is not fun, even with shiny cut scenes between levels. Unreal Tournament 3 is a purely multiplayer game, one that requires practice, skill, and the willingness to use more then your thumbs to control the action. It is the best of its kind: a balls out shooter. Now somebody with a decent connection host a low grav – instagib game with juiced speed so I can shoot you in the face. Twice.