Unreal Tournament 3 will not be for everyone. It is still not as good as the PC version but it is probably the closest a console port has ever come to being so
FPS games that are predominantly designed for the PC and ported to a console never work! Ever! Fact! Okay some of them still remain playable but they just can’t hold a torch to the PC original. Half Life on the PS2 was abysmally bad in comparison to the original PC version. Half Life 2 on the XBOX; Jerk-o-rama! Unreal Tournament 3 on the PS3; brilliant, actually! It’s still not as good as the PC version but it’s probably the closest a console port has ever come to being so.
From controls that actually work to an online mode that’s easily as enjoyable as the PC original, Unreal Tournament 3 is a success on many fronts. It even has the option to control the action with a keyboard and mouse, although strangely there is a slight amount of lag when doing so and the joypad is therefore the preferred choice! There are even options available to change the speed of which you turn and aim, which enables you to customise the control scheme until it feels comfortable. Inevitably though, accuracy does take a hit compared to the PC version and this affects some of the weaponry at your disposal.
Is that a gun you’re holding or are you pleased to see me?
The snot gun, Unreal Tournament 3’s secret weapon!
In the PC version the guns felt balanced and all had strengths and weaknesses. When playing with a joypad however the Flak Cannon is overly-powerful due it’s ability to be sprayed about and still likely hit someone, and other weapons that have a high rate of fire are also good choices due to the ability to spray shots around without worrying about reloading. Other guns, such as the Sniper Rifle and Shock Rifle, are underpowered; the former due to it’s excessively slow aim movement and inability to line up a shot quickly, and the latter because you have to be very accurate with your shot, something that is difficult with the joypad until you’ve put in a good few hours play. As everyone is at this disadvantage (or advantage, depending on what gun you are using) though, it is easier to forgive and overlook.
Online combat is as hectic as ever, with lightening reflexes a necessity if you want to last longer than a few seconds. There are also approximately 50 maps to choose from, which is more than any other online console shooter I can think of. Granted some of them are stronger than others, and some are variations of a theme, but it’s still an impressive amount and one that should keep you going for some time. In addition there are already a number of mods available to increase the longevity of the game, including one made of Lego, which is highly entertaining and arguably shows off the visual quality and gameplay of Unreal Tournament 3 better than any of the levels that Epic provided in the package.
That is actually a fair point to pick up on. Despite the 50 levels and 5 game modes, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Unreal Tournament 3 still felt a little light on content. There are multiple reasons for this; the single-player experience in the Campaign mode is shockingly put together and nothing more than every map being thrown at the player with the thinnest of plots tacked on to it. It’s actually insulting to try and pass it off as a Campaign mode, and Epic really should have done more to provide an offline experience, or just simply not bother providing one at all. In fact I’d rather they had spent the time in coming up with another one or two unique modes that you could play online as the available modes are another reason why Unreal Tournament 3 feels a little light on content. Warfare may be an excellent edition and unlike anything seen in almost every other shooter, but it’s the only mode that sets Unreal Tournament 3 out from its competitors.
In Warfare you have to take control of nodes, linking them all together from your base to the enemy’s base, until they’re all linked and their base is destroyable. It plays like an entirely different game to the other standard modes, and can be incredibly tactical, despite the arcade-esque gameplay doing it’s best to suggest otherwise. Playing Warfare online with the full compliment of 16 players is an exhilarating experience. Outside of Warfare though you only have the bog-standard Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Vehicle Capture the Flag and Duel modes to play and, while these are great fun, they can be found in almost every other shooter. Games like Call of Duty 4 offer those types of modes and are easily as enjoyable (and arguably even more so) online, and they also offer a compelling single-player experience, something that is sorely lacking from Unreal Tournament 3.
He’s a pussycat when you get to know him
Pick the bones out of that screenshot!
All of the online modes can be played offline with bots, but despite years of supposed evolution, the AI still remains very similar to the original Unreal Tournament. On lower difficulty levels they’ll run away without even attempting to turn around and return fire, and never seem to offer covering fire or search for cover. On higher difficulty levels that behaviour doesn’t seem to change, instead they suddenly have the ability to spot you within nano-seconds, no matter how stealthily you’ve entered a new area or how well hidden you think you are.
The new hover-board helps you traverse the large levels in a few seconds (enabling you to travel at approximately four or five times the speed of running), and adds a smidgen of strategy. While you can travel at increased speeds, you’re ability to aim is hampered and you can be knocked off at any moment and be easy pickings for the enemy. Knowing when to use it and when to travel by foot can be the key to success or failure.
As we touched on earlier, the mods are already out in force and already some of them are better than the levels provided by Epic. It’s therefore fair to say that we are unlikely to see just how good Unreal Tournament 3 can be for another few months yet, when there are more mods available and the Unreal Tournament 3 community get their creative juices flowing. Epic could really do itself a favour and employ some of these people as level designers for the next Unreal Tournament game, as the creativity shown in a lot of these levels far outweighs those provided in the game.
Visually Unreal Tournament 3 does a good job, without ever really pushing the PS3 to its limits. Its not gorgeous, and I’m still not sure the ‘Gears of War’ big-beefy characters suit the fast-paced action, but it more than does the job. It also moves at a steady pace, and only rarely dips below 30fps, usually when there are a couple of vehicles on-screen and a few other players. Getting a match online is also relatively trouble-free, with the speed of the server being displayed so you can easily decide which game you want to join. The Campaign mode can even be joined at any stage by any of your online friends (something that took me by surprise when one of my buddies jumped in), which actually makes the mode a little more enjoyable.
I don’t fancy yours much
That brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘road kill’
UNREAL TOURNAMENT III VERDICT
Unreal Tournament 3 won’t be for everyone. The lack of a worthy single-player experience will undoubtedly put some people off, and the fact that there are games already available that offer an online experience every bit as enjoyable confuses the matter even more. But those games don’t offer the same type of all-out action that Unreal Tournament 3 provides, and if you want a slightly more arcade-like FPS experience, and one that doesn’t require hours of time-investment to get the most out of it, there really isn’t currently a better option. Better than Call of Duty 4? No, definitely not! Suitably different and worth purchasing to experience the superb mods and Warfare mode? Absolutely!
TOP GAME MOMENT
Playing Warfare online with 15 other players. Absolutely exhilarating.