UT3 may be old-school, but it feels fresh, new, exciting, and is a welcomed addition to the Xbox library.
Previously known as Unreal Tournament 2007, Unreal Tournament 3 has been available on both the Playstation 3 and PC for several months now, and after a long delay due to timed exclusivity for the PS3 version, 360 owners finally get to delve into this generations old school tournament style twitch shooter. If you've played UT2K4 on the PC or Unreal Championship from the original Xbox then you probably have a good idea on what you'll be getting into. The game is still structured as an arena Deathmatch-CTF battleground where you'll be spending a lot of your time fragging, and doing an equal amount of time blowing up.
Unreal Tournament probably shouldn't feel as new and exciting as it does. When you think about it, UT 3 does very little change in the Unreal universe. The game is relatively the same as past iterations of the franchise, its still the multiplayer frag fast reminiscent of Quake. With most multiplayer centric shooters slowing things down and becoming more militaristic and realistic Unreal feels like a breath of fresh air, which is hard to say about most old-school style games thus Unreal 3 contains its own charm, an somewhat of a nostalgic feel.
The UT games have never been about the campaign, so anyone approaching any Unreal game expecting the singleplayer to be worth a damn would be sadly mistaken. The tradition continues in this game with the campaign trickling down to bot matches separated by poorly written cutscenes. The Unreal universe is in trouble, first it was a tournament, but now its real! Respawners on the battlefield have changed how war is fought (but I thought war never changes!?). Deathmatches are still just a frag count, but how does Capture the Flag play into a serious war? Well in order to take out the enemy's respawners you have to obtain their Field Lattice Generator, or FLAGS, and bring it back to your own base-This is me rolling my eyes. Give me a break. The story doesn't need much explanation, bad guys try to kill good guys, your bulky good guy (Epics awesome at rendering big guys in huge body armor), play about 50 bot matches, defeat bad guys. On the plus the campaign is playable with four people, and its a good source for achievement points.
Epic is infamous with throwing tons of maps into their games out of the box, and UT3 is no exception. UT3 contains dozens of maps, all of course are built for specific multiplayer game modes. There are a healthy variety of maps for all the game modes, and rightfully so. This way all the maps are balanced for their respective playing mode. All the maps are expertly designed, and fun to play in, and non of which are dull or bland, looking beautiful thanks to the games under the hood engine. Overall, UT3 contains some of the highest map quality you'll see in a videogame this year with plenty of symmetrical, interesting level layouts for the objective-based modes, and a high variation of environments.
Anyways, the games visuals are a standout, absolutely fantastic. Considering we've seen the Unreal tech in countless games, we finally see the damn game itself, and the engine performs as well as ever. You'll instantly see the art style the game shares with its 3rd person counterpart Gears of War, but thats a good thing. The sound is pretty much similar to what you've herd in past Unreal games, the guns sound modernized but no one will find any surprises, the Flak cannon sounds like a Flak Cannon, the Rocket Launcher sound like, well, a Rocket Launcher. The only annoyance I've encountered is in single player, the bots are very chatty, do I really need to know if my guys about to score from three different bots at once? Just return the damn flag! However, this annoyance isn't present in multiplayer, and unless you love playing co-op, or your an achievement hunter just skip the campaign all together.
Anyone whose played Unreal will find no surprises in UT3's arsenal. All the classic weapons are present, all with minor balancing tweaks. The shield gun has been replaced with the Impact Hammer, and your default weapon is a low powered pistol, which has actually holds its own compared to other pick up weapons. The Sniper Rifle is still good fun for headshots, the Redeemer is still the high powered Nuke which can take out half the map guaranteeing the opposing team crying out "cheap!". The Flak Cannon's secondary fire has become a little slower, and forcing you to be a bit more accurate, but nothing drastic. Even if the weapons are the same, that doesn't mean they don't kick major ass, and feel great.
Unreal Tournament 3 is a very basic package, but that doesn't mean UT3 doesn't have if fair share of multiplayer madness and thrills. While playing UT3 its very obvious how multiplayer gaming has changed in the sense that these style of games just aren't made anymore, and quiet possibly outdated by most counts. The only other game like this on the platform is Quake 4, and that wasn't a very competent port. This is the reason why its impossible to not recommend UT3 to shooter fans, this game isn't unique to gaming in general, but it's unique to the 360 library, and console gaming altogether.
Unlike modern shooters like Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and so on, UT3 doesn't have any perks or rewards to extensive play. Not seeing a little +10, or seeing a rank next to your gamertag wouldn't mean anything last year. But this will probably be a turn off for some people if mere leaderboard rank doesn't interest you. The Quake series moved from its roots into a Battlefield-like experience with its Quake Wars game, so this may very well indeed be the last true Unreal game. With its variety in modes, healthy amount of fantastically constructed maps, UT3 is one of the best multiplayer experiences you'll have this year. If you can get over the lack of rewards, and go into this stoked for old-school action, then it will be impossible to be disappointed. Epic might use Gears of War as their flagship franchise, but it's Unreal that structured their company and gave them their fame.
Controls are sharp, and shooting is a breeze
Difficulty is well balanced
Old School formula, with a new school look has its charm
For a gritty Unreal Engine game, the game is very colorful
Solid map design
Top notch performance, you'll encounter very little lag if you have a reasonable connection
Some of the best control I've seen in a console shooter, rivaling Call of Duty
Single Player experience is worthless
Mods are nowhere to be found
Some texture popping is present before matches start, but not as bad as Gears
Multiplayer doesn't give you much to work for.