Completely solid in the nuts and bolts, but missing all the imagination of its predecessors.

User Rating: 7.5 | Unreal Tournament III PC
I was dying to get Unreal Tournament 3 when it first came out, but sadly, my poor old PC just wasn't up to scratch - gaming left it behind in 2004! However, having recently upgraded to a beast of a machine, and happening upon the complete updated edition of UT3 for £2 in a charity shop, I figured it was time to catch up with some unfinished business...



+ Perfect Feel: The original UT felt fantastic to play, but while UT2004 was also very good, it just felt a bit too 'light' and fidgety in comparison. Thankfully, UT3 steps all the way back in the right direction: the movement is brisk but well-weighted, the guns feel meaty, and I honestly can't imagine it being better calibrated.

+ Hoverboards: A fantastic addition, allowing you to get around quickly without vehicles, but putting you under great danger if anyone gets a shot off at you. Most importantly, great fun to whiz about on!

+ Beefed-up Warfare Mode: Onslaught was a great addition to UT2004, and its new iteration, Warfare, is improved. The 'ball' is a handy way to quickly resolve stalemates, and non-essential support nodes that give you a variety of bonuses, from giving you stronger vehicles to indirectly damaging the enemy core, are a great addition that bring flavour and variety to proceedings.


- Poor Campaign: The very idea of adding a story-driven campaign to a game where the story means practically nothing is stupid, and the execution is just as bad to match. While it's interesting having lopsided battles and the ability to play cards that redress the balance, the campaign is just completely uninvolving, with a plot that's impossible to follow, uninteresting characters, quite a lot of repetition, and just no real sense of urgency. It would've been much better to just stick to and refine the tournament setup from the previous games, which was just starting to get more developed in UT2004.

- Murky Art Design: It's definitely a very pretty game, but coming out post-Gears of War, it seems to have gone into a rather uninspired, murky, industrial tone with its general art design. I don't mind that when it's mixed in with other stuff, but there's precious little else in UT3, which makes it feel rather monotone.

- Miniscule Content: A lot of care was clearly put into Warfare mode, as this is where most new additions, and the most interesting new ideas, can be found in UT3. For everything else though, there's precious little else - even with the Titan pack installed, there's probably less than half the levels than there were in UT and UT2004, some of which were in the previous games to begin with. The guns are tweaked to perfection, but they're essentially the same as UT2004 - they could've taken a risk and added something new (or bring back the Ripper!). However, the most unforgiveable offence in my eye is how so many game modes have been removed. Where have Assault, Domination, Double Domination, Last Man Standing, and Bombing Run gone? Sure, there's a couple of new modes, but they're not terribly interesting or different from the rest. And where have half the mutators gone? It just feels ridiculous to me that here we have a sequel that, more than anything else, is removing perfectly good features from the last game!

- No Imagination: It's intertwined with the industrial 'Gears' art style and the severe lack of content, but there's a real lack of imagination throughout every aspect of UT3 besides the Warfare mode. Hardly any of the levels stand out visually or conceptually, and it feels like all the variety and absurdity has been sucked out of the series - no more holding zero-gravity swordfights on stations orbiting the Moon!

- Iffy Team AI: I'm not sure if I'm imagining it, but I swear the team AI is worse than it used to be - I've only really noticed it in Warfare, but watching your teammates park their Leviathan in the middle of a deserted valley while the enemy overruns you up ahead is a very frustrating experience, especially when UT bots always used to be the best in the business!


It really pains me that, now the feel of the gameplay is so completely right and the technology capable of achieving basically anything, this game has ended up being a real let-down. Even when I play UT or UT2004 nowadays, I still end up finding levels I had no idea even existed, and can feel the crazy inventive energy in the great majority of them - with UT3, I feel like I could skim through all its content in a couple of days, and not even remember half of it by the end. Perhaps the best illustration of my point is in the new version of the Facing Worlds map - it's pretty and it still works, but now it's stuck on the ground; and you'll always remember it the way it used to be, spinning madly through space.