We took our time reviewing Unreal Tournament 3 for a number of reasons. First of all, being so close to the series tends to either make you impossibly critical of every real or imagined misstep or it makes you want to gloss over faults. Second, we’ve been playing the hell out of it. Finally, once we began the review process, a patch was put into beta. That beta turned into beta two, then beta three, then beta four. We always like to review a game with the latest patch, but we didn’t know it would take quite so long. Regardless, here we are…

Unreal Tournament 3 is about redemption. No, not that of the main protagonist from the singleplayer story, Reaper, but about that of Epic Games’ biggest title that is not called Gears of War. Unreal Tournament 2003’s intergalactic sports theme was quickly followed by Unreal Tournament 2004, an attempt to right the ship and bring it back in line with the grittier combat and hardcore arenas of the original Unreal Tournament which is regarded by many as the strongest in the series. UT2004 also introduced two vehicle gametypes to the series – Onslaught and Vehicle Capture the Flag, though the latter was not supported with any pre-built levels and many of the levels for the former were built before the gametype was finalized. It was publicly stated many times that UT3 would combine the more grounded, deadly combat of UT with the fast-paced vehicle oriented gameplay from UT2004. Like so many good things one might blend, everyone has a highly-personalized opinion on whether or not it is a good combination. One might make a case that breaking the vehicle gametypes away into an entirely different game would benefit both, but UT3 arguably does do a better job than UT2004 of making it work.

Getting Started

UT3 uses Gamespy technology to establish unique player identities and track stats, and thus requires that you create an account. Once you’ve logged in, you are greeted with a remix of the familiar Unreal Tournament menu music, clearly meant to evoke a wave of nostalgia and to underscore the point that this game is a return to form. It is with great irony that the subsequent interaction with the game is something of a splash of ice cold water to the face. To say that the user interface is a disaster might be a bit harsh… but it is arduous. It’s clearly not designed for the keyboard and mouse user or really even for anyone using a high resolution screen. The oversized buttons and sliders are scattered from top to bottom of the screens and there’s no consistency in their placement from one page to the next. Tasks that ought to be a few clicks away are now buried several layers deep and require careful study of the screen, sweeping movements of the mouse, and multiple confirmations. Familiar options like changing your player name or crosshairs are missing.

Likewise, the server browser lacks the simple ability to view the names of players in a highlighted server The friends list will allow you to see if someone is in-game, but not where or what he or she is playing. Joining a passworded server by IP (something common when games get advertised on IRC) requires knowing and typing in a console command because no input box will pop up asking for the password - it only tells you that one is required. Forget about pasting the IP in to the console, because copying and pasting seems to be disabled. In between multiplayer levels, you have to click on “chat” tab or all onscreen messages mysteriously disappear, and thanks to the fact that there’s an actual level loaded under the menu – not a playable one, mind you – your mouse cursor lags around almost uncontrollably. It’s a half-hearted effort at implementing such a crucial interface. If it sounds like I’m nitpicking, I can assure you that I’m simply skimming the top of the list. I’m actually quite loathe to be talking about the GUI when I should be discussing the game, but it is a perfect parallel to how I feel when I’m fumbling about in attempt to use it… I’d rather be playing the game! Chances are that if you’re looking for a familiar or favorite feature and can’t find it… it ain’t there.

One notable thing that is there, however, is the character customization screen which includes the ability to swap out things like armor, boots, helmets, and more. Sadly, there’s no option to choose a voice and custom voice packs look like they might be extremely difficult to implement. Likewise, custom models look to be much more troublesome to set up and use than in past games. For a series that has thrived on custom content, it’s odd that making it easier to customize these aspects wouldn’t have been a priority.

The patch does address some of these issues, namely some of the re-confirmations and redundant buttons. It also adds some additional customization options and functionality to the server browser.

Brizz: Technically, the game is designed very well. However, it is clear that not much thought was put into the menu system, particularly for the PC. The cause of this is unknown, though it is likely that the menu system is the way it is for some manner of cross-compatibility with the PS3 and 360 versions of the game which will allow UI modifications to be loaded. Unfortunately, this leads to a very unnatural and simplified UI for most UT players.

To be fair, most people don't need really advanced control of the game in options menus. However, to also be fair on the other hand, more detailed menus have come to be expected on PC games, and the simplicity and complexity of the UT3 menu is bound to bug even the most casual of gamers. How they managed to make the UI so convoluted and at the same time oversimplified is beyond me.

Multiplayer, in terms of getting into a game, is pretty much an exercise in pain. Clearly, the menus for the game were built as an afterthought as many features and menus in the server browser alone were simply left out of the retail version. Post-patch many of these features return, although they do not function as you would expect, so in many cases end up as pretty worthless. One example is that you cannot add favorites from the server list; you have to play on the server and then go to your History tab to add it to the Favorites tab. The flow is very unintuitive.

These problems are only exacerbated by the fact that the dedicated server package is very subpar compared to previous games (the lack of WebAdmin is simply astounding) and things like the new folder structure, the new ini structure and the lack of a mid-game voting menu do not help the situation one bit. Redirecting to files is broken (even as of the first patch, if the server does a travel on to a map that must be downloaded, it fails. You have to rejoin the server to get the file), unique logins to Gamespy are required for each and every server installation and there are a plethora of other annoyances dealing with just running a server. For a game that's bread and butter is the multiplayer experience, the multiplayer seems to have gotten the least attention, though it may be a toss up between that and the UI.

Dark_Pulse: Once you have the game installed, and your account created, you'll get to have "fun" navigating the user interface. This is clearly the worst part of the game, but if you let something like the UI influence your purchase of the game, clearly you don't know what the game is all about. Yes, it could be better, but it's not GODAWFUL bad or anything... merely annoying. (And a bit less so in Patch 1, may I add.) Once you learn the UI, it doesn't become as huge of a pain in the butt as it initially is, and you can fairly quickly launch botmatches or find a server online to play on. It feels simplified, perhaps so less-expert players don't get confused or overwhelmed by a thousand choices staring them down. (There being only World and Texture sliders is a good case for this.) In the end, there is always tweaking the INI to suit your tastes, as we've all been doing for the last three UTs... while it could benefit from more options in less menus, this shouldn't be a game breaker for anyone... yes, there's far better UIs, and there's also far worse. One thing that's new to UT3 is character customization... and it's actually surprisingly nice. Things really would've benefitted from more parts, and an ability to choose a voice pack though... your voice is "locked" depending on what model you use, and it really sucks. Hopefully there'll be an option for that down the road... and also plenty of custom parts from the community. Do you guys hear me?


Now the good news is that once you’ve “mastered” the menu, the next step is playing the game and that good feeling returns. This is where the quest for redemption rings true. Flaws in gameplay that plagued UT2003 and UT2004, namely hit scan dominance and game-breaking exaggerated dodge jumps, have been replaced with solid, grounded, in-your-face combat. Post-patch the character models appear to be much larger and you now view your opponent eye to eye instead of towering over him. The Enforcer replaces the weak and inaccurate Assault Rifle and the Impact Hammer replaces the ShieldGun. The removal of the ShieldGun means that the run and hide style of play is no longer effective. The Impact Hammer still offers the ability to “jump” to ordinarily out of the way places and produces some wonderfully satisfying on-your-screen carnage. The weapons have been tweaked to bring about the aforementioned gameplay; chief among those is the reduction in the rate of fire and the amount of push back inflicted by the ShockRifle primary fire. The FlakCannon has a slightly narrower primary fire spread with a shorter effective range and a slightly higher arcing secondary. The Stinger returns from Unreal, though in primary mode it is effectively a minigun with a slower push-back secondary fire projectile. The Rocket Launcher, fast becoming both one of the most powerful and complex of the weapon lineup reintroduces grenades as an alternate alt-fire function. The SniperRifle is effective and satisfying to use, sporting a slightly slower rate of fire than that of the one found in Unreal Tournament. The BioRifle now sticks to virtually any surface for a much longer duration before exploding making it a much more viable weapon. For some reason, the Redeemer is much less powerful, though the effect makes it seem as though the opposite were true. It’s a superweapon, for crying out loud. Was anyone really saying it was overpowered? At least you now stand a decent chance of surviving if you can scramble away from the blast area with great expediency.

Brizz: I really can't complain about the gameplay at all. It is very tight, very close, very nitty gritty gameplay. It is very reminiscent of UT back in 1999, which makes the game very exhilarating to play in any gametype. Epic has made many efforts to bring the gameplay closer and encourage more spammy gameplay since UT2004, and they have succeeded very well. Any player, new or old, is going to be able to get a few kills each match.

And getting kills is equally as satisfying as just playing. I believe in every map, there is a different sound that plays immediately after you kill someone. While not entirely necessary, it is a nice positive feedback loop for getting kills. The gameplay has a few slight oddities, but overall it is exactly what the UT fan has been waiting for for 7 years. Overall, Multiplayer is the experience we have all grown to love. While the act of getting into a game has become much more annoying in some cases, once you are in the game you will rarely notice

Predictably, Deathmatch and Capture the Flag are the greatest beneficiaries of the decision to go retro; Warfare, less so, since the removal of dodge-jumping makes it much more difficult to stay out of the pathway of faster vehicles. Vehicle lovers, however, get the new hoverboard to help ease the pain of spawning away from the carnage. It works well and is balanced by the fact that a single point of damage taken sends you sprawling to the pavement. There will be no amateur Tony Hawk expos breaking out in the middle of a firefight… at least not for long. Well done, Epic.

Despite all of the grand ideas of massive streaming levels and commander roles that were tossed about during development, Warfare settles nicely into the role of a greatly improved Onslaught. The introduction of the orb gives the hotshot loner a much needed adrenaline rush and it allows the struggling team a chance at quickly recapturing the primary node, avoiding the hopeless peril of trying to make a comeback that you found yourself in all too often in the original gametype. Unconnected secondary nodes provide a nice risk/reward and a greater depth. Those “secondary objective” nodes make it entirely possible to be pinned down to your primary node and still capture a much-needed heavy vehicle or even damage the enemy core! Onslaught fans spent a lot of time developing and testing custom maps and making that gametype their own so it’s easy to see how the hardcore group might be resistant. Anyone else turned off by the narrow focus of the original might appreciate what Warfare brings to the table.

The Warfare levels are also a step up from the UT2004 offerings. Not only are they beautifully detailed, but each has a twist that makes it seem a little different from the next. Sure, maps like Sinkhole are downright goofy in that throwing nearly two dozen players in a room full of Mantas is not unlike sticking your hand in a blender, but others like Floodgate and Serenity succeed in giving you a feeling of taking part in a massive war. It’s altogether a much grander scale than any of the original Onslaught maps, even if many of them aren’t much larger. Downtown and Marketplace bring a dose of urban warfare to UT3, while Dusk and the many versions of Torlan are more than a nodding pass at classic Onslaught. Islander and Tank Wars seem to be the Warfare-Assault showcase levels, Islander being especially fun in its Necris vehicle implementation. The level of detail in these large maps is impressive and amazingly don’t seem to hit your system much harder than many of the Deathmatch levels.

Hunter: ONS was good, but Warfare is better. This time there is lots going on aside from just getting a linked node set to the other team’s power core: spare nodes which may not be needed to link to the other power core can provide much needed vehicles on the battlefield, and the introduction of the orb also allows more of a chance of getting that primary node back and going on the attack. All of these things allow for some great games of Warfare.

Dark_Pulse: Epic invested nearly 1/3 of UT3's total map count into Warfare, and it shows - the maps are chock full of stuff, and several of them are quite huge. While it's not nearly as grand as originally envisioned, some of these maps are pretty freaking big - even with a Hoverboard it could easily take you a minute to traverse from core to core. Some of the maps are relatively light on vehicles (WAR-MarketDistrict, WAR-Sinkhole), some place heavy emphasis on them (WAR-Avalanche, WAR-Downtown) and a few use them rather craftily (WAR-TankCrossing, WAR-Floodgate). There's a little bit of everything for every play style in Warfare, and the maps with Necris vehicles show them off quite well. And unlike UT2004, chances are if you can run the other gametypes, Warfare won't tax you too much - believe it or not, the maps that were in the demo were among the most taxing in the entire game. The engine handles multiple vehicles in view quite well, without the slowdown that was apparent in UT2004.

The six new Necris vehicles are all quite powerful with the exception of the Scavenger which was, perhaps, inspired by SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball. It’s far too difficult to control to be of much use although it is considerably faster than walking or hoverboarding to your destination. Its main weapon seems to be little more than an irritant. The other new vehicles fare much better and, some may argue, overpower their Axon counterparts. The Darkwalker holds a strong vantage point over infantry and, with the right cover and a second gunner, can even dominate most of the non-flying vehicles. The Fury also benefits from a bit of cover and with its sudden burst of speed can be quite difficult to take down from the ground. The Nemesis sort of creates its own cover by being able to raise up or crouch down. You do NOT want to get caught out in the open by someone manning one of those because you will die very quickly. The Viper is also quite powerful against slower moving vehicles and nodes; whatever it loses to the Manta in its limited horizontal control, it more than makes up with its incredible vertical jumping abilities and its self-destruct mode. The Viper, along with the Fury makes the Necris vehicles quite exciting for Vehicle Capture the Flag.

Dark_Pulse: Speaking of Necris vehicles... these things simply rock. I will flat out say that, with a few exceptions, the Necris Vehicles are easily my favorite vehicle set in the game. That's not to say I don't like the Axon Vehicles; I still love shooting things with the Goliath, the Scorpion's Kamikaze function makes it awesomely useful and the new Manta is deadlier than ever... but man I love the Necris vehicles.

UT3 marks the series’ first official implementation of VCTF and Epic put together a half dozen levels to show how they envision it being played. The ability to enter vehicles while carrying the flag has been replaced with the necessity to grapple onto the rear of a piloted vehicle if you’re looking for a fast route back to your base. This does eliminate the favored “Manta run” tactic employed by those that adopted the semi-official version in 2004, though it does allow for one of the most thrilling, and perhaps cheesy, tactics in all of UT3 – grappling onto a Raptor or Fury! Not only do you get a great view, but you get to cling to your grapple with the knowledge that a single point of damage inflicted by the enemy will likely send you tumbling to your death. A successful capture of the flag while in the tow of a flying vehicle is quite a rush. VCTF seems to have more than its fair share of gimmick maps and by that, I mean maps with a neutral large, annoying vehicle in the center of the map and none more irritating than the Goliath found in Kargo. Though the tank is restricted to a small area of a docked ship in the center of the map, it enjoys a perfectly clear view of most routes and lots of cover. Corruption is a fine level that otherwise seems bent on proving that the Necris vehicles are far superior to those of the Axon Corporation - woe to ye who spawn on red! One gimmick map that grew on me was Sandstorm, a U-shaped level aptly named for its occasional (what else?) sandstorms. Hearing those winds begin to whip just before the storm reduces your visibility really gets your blood boiling. There’s nothing like hearing an incoming invasion long before you can see it to fill you with a sense of dread. Suspense is not unlike the Facing Worlds of VCTF in that it seems incredibly simple at first, but offers some hidden strategies. It’s a good level for people new to the series to be introduced to the gametype, no doubt one of the reasons they chose to include it in the beta demo.

Dark_Pulse: VCTF is a bit of a mixed bag, depending on your feelings for it. If you didn't like it in UT2004, you probably won't like it in UT3; while they did cut down on some stuff (No more Manta-Running, can't get in vehicles with the flag, etc) at its core, many will still feel that the only CTF out there is "original" CTF. That's a shame, because VCTF has some pretty fun maps, and some of UT3's features (like grappling) make it really exciting - it's a thrill to grapple onto a Raptor and have it hauling ass out of the enemy base, knowing that if you get hit just once you're likely going to need to be scraped off the pavement.

I mentioned that the changes to the movement and weapons were for the better for DM and CTF, but those aren’t the only differences between the old and the new. A number of pickups return, including Shield Belt, Jump Boots, Invisibility, Berserk, and Invulnerability. The latter three only in select levels, while the first two are more of a staple and will most likely be in competitive play. Already, the Jump Boots have become one of the most coveted pickups as they instantly yield unexpected routes and height advantages. Capture the Flag receives an updated translocator, though despite the increased number of charges and recharge time, I’m not sure I’d call it an upgrade. The camera function is gone and it’s suddenly saddled with a slight delay between fired shots making it a little awkward to use at times, especially for those with official tele-monkey status.

Hunter: It feels good to be back in cramped maps, not having to run around miles of terrain trying to find someone to frag. Because of this it seems to flow a lot better and at a quicker pace than UT2004 and, as I've heard from a few people, it feels like UT. It's good to see some fresh maps, though the themes seem to be a bit limited in styles. So hopefully the mod and map communities can bring some fresh light in.

Six Capture the Flag levels seems a little meager for a series so rich in the flag capturing tradition. Nonetheless, Epic has delivered what I believe to be six pretty solid levels, something that makes the svelte map list a little easier to swallow. Fantastic remakes of Unreal Tournament classics Hyrdo and Coret are sure to please, while Reflection and Strident fill the bill for those that fear getting lost on the way to the enemy base. Strident is notable for what is perhaps the best example of the right way to do a gimmick as each pass of an immense moving field results in the recuperation of ten health points. I know lots of people will be irritated by the elevator mounted flag stands, but it’s a minor annoyance at best. Vertebrae, however, will have many people scratching their heads – personally, I love it. It consists of not one, not two, but four distinct vertically stacked levels on each side and a single fifth level common area. It’s pretty thrilling to run the flag, dropping frantically from level to level while your enemies remain just above your head in hot pursuit, then battling for a lift to propel yourself back upwards towards your own base. Those that demand serious CTF only will hate it, but it’s easily one of the highlights for me. Not to mention it sports an incredible amount of detail of the Necris persuasion and may be one of the most stunning examples in the game. OmicronDawn is yet another reasonably solid, if a tad bit confusing, CTF level that most will find to their liking.

Dark_Pulse: Some will be quite disappointed that there's only 6 CTF levels in the game; I do think it could've used more - say, 10. However, the 6 that are there are quite playable.

The Deathmatch levels are a mixed bag. All are expertly crafted, of course, and many could be considered fine art in their own rights. Great care has been taken to ensure the play areas remain free from clutter. The robot production line in CarbonFire, for instance, moves about the perimeter of the level behind a thick sheet of glass. One of the problems with many of the maps is that they are probably not suitable for competition due to size – Team Deathmatch is typically 4v4. Gimmicks will also be a big source of debate as a few of the maps that otherwise might be suitable for either 1v1 or TDM contain traps. On the other hand, casual players have clamored for more traps similar to those found in Unreal and Unreal Tournament, and on that count Epic delivers. Gateway can be described as a gimmick map, featuring three entirely differently themed areas accessible only by (rather ugly) teleporters. Deimos has been likened to a Habitrail hamster house and the comparison is somewhat fitting. The level is an absolute undeniable masterpiece of editing work, but as a deathmatch level I found it a bit confusing and the remote turret to be a little annoying. It’s unconventional and there are people that like that sort of level and arguably it has a place in an Unreal Tournament game, it just doesn’t deliver a high level of gameplay.

Dark_Pulse: Deathmatch contains some good, some bad, and some "How the heck did this get released?" maps. DM-ShangriLa is still a fun map even if we played it to death 2 months ago, and CarbonFire is an absolute blast... I'm a sucker for well-done themed maps, and the music clicks into my head constantly as I play it. It's also got a very risky - but very rewarding - Double Damage and Berserk powerup placement... but if you get out, you're an instant juggernaut.


In addition to matching the great multiplayer experience from its predecessors, Epic has stated that one of its goals is to improve upon the typical Tournament singleplayer experience, which has traditionally amounted to a progressive ladder or instant action against the artificial intelligence. Quite a lot was made of this feature and it was one of the stated reasons that the game was pushed back from its original speculated release date. On the surface, despite the rather well done smattering of cutscenes, the campaign mode doesn’t appear to be much more than a loosely strung together series of botmatches. However, at specific points you are given a choice of battles which do affect your path, though not ultimately. All paths eventually converge into one, meaning that you actually have no real chance to alter the storyline and there is but a single ending. Though there are one-hundred-forty-eight possible battles were it possible to lay all paths end-to-end, most people won’t notice as the differences between them aren’t often significant. Accomplishing certain feats will allow you to hold a card in reserve that can be used to give your team a little assistance. Considering that several battles are decidedly stacked against you, it’s a nice addition. Perhaps best of all, a friend can join you in co-op mode and you’ll probably be thankful should you choose to go this route as your computer controlled team mates sometimes seem as though they are shilling against you. My bot buddies had a keen propensity for retreating to our Leviathan and driving it into a wall.

Do your best to put aside the notion that Campaign mode is a singleplayer game. Rather, it is a surprisingly decent tutorial with a forgettable storyline tacked on. When I say forgettable, what I really mean is that I wish that I could forget it. It’s the biggest bummer of an ending since Unreal 2. Even accepting the fact that much of it may be intended to be tongue-in-cheek, and Othello’s sardonic comments seem to indicate that it may, do we really need to have a preposterous reason to capture a flag? Sorry, I mean F.La.G… or Field Lattice Generator. And am I actually supposed to believe that my stealing a piece of cloth on a stick is somehow going to “deplete my enemies’ respawners”? Do I care? Not especially. This game is about a tournament after all… or wait… is it about a war? I forget. I’m not going to fault Epic for trying because it’s an easily ignorable part of the game, but I hope that next time they stick closer to what the game is really about. There are plenty of great stories to be told about arena combat without resorting to harebrained acronyms and half-baked storylines.

Brizz: The singleplayer is much more extensive than in previous UT games, but don't take this to mean that the singleplayer is even of Gears of War quality. The writing is simply silly (FLaGs anyone?), and the game tries too hard to tell you that they expect the writing to be mocked. It's kind of like the kid in school that tells a lame joke and then laughs and says "Get it? That's funny, right?"

That said, for the most part of the first two acts, you will find yourself playing through a very much more extensive tutorial than in previous games, and this is one area where the singleplayer does succeed. You will learn how to play the game correctly in these first dozen missions or so in each gametype, and you will easily become accustomed to the little nuances of each gametype.

However, where the singleplayer ultimately fails is in storytelling. Specifically, it fails at giving the player any sense of interest in what is going on between cutscenes, and the design tends to drag out certain plot elements until you almost just want to shut down the game out of frustration. You'll find that the singleplayer lasts up to 20 hours, but only because you play several dozen botmatches on every single map in the game (sometimes multiple times) and almost invariably end up spending the allotted 20 minutes in each map, if not more.

If you've played Unreal Championship 2, you have an idea of how the story mode works. However, you will also really begin to appreciate the brevity in UC2, as in that game you don't play every map in the game in the story mode, instead that is saved for a classic tournament mode, which UT3 is drastically missing.

Hunter: UT, from the beginning, was always about a tournament and included a brief back story. Although the singleplayer offers some nice cut scenes through to try and paint a story, it doesn't do too well as you find yourself playing DM, CTF, VCTF, and Warfare over and over. Some of the bots do provide some nice humourous chat in the maps as you work your way through, but it is missing the “tournament feel” of UT and UT2004.

Dark_Pulse: Singleplayer... well, let's be honest - Singleplayer is as it always has been - glorified botmatches. The difference here is there're some things to be had - a continuously unfolding story that may or may not interest you, some gentle self-jabs at how ludicrous it is to make a believable story out of this style of game (Depeleting the enemy's respawners? FLaGs?) and a rather underwhelming and admittedly somewhat predictable ending. If you were expecting something a la Halo, or any other story-driven FPS, you're going to be sorely disappointed. It does have a saving grace, however... you can play it online with up to 3 of your buddies, co-op style - and it's quite a blast. Still, the Singleplayer does its usual role of teaching you the basics, the weapons, the maps, and the vehicles, and prepares you for the cold, unforgiving world of playing online - where the sanest place is behind a trigger... preferably a very big one in the form of a Goliath or a Redeemer.

Sights & Sounds

The Unreal Tournament series has always been known for great graphics and solid audio and UT3 mostly does not disappoint. On a mid to high end enthusiast machine the game looks fantastic but any recent PC, even a cheap one, can probably run it well with some compromises. An amazing amount of detail has been packed in to each level and model, though I must point out that bloom does seem a bit overdone in some levels, creating almost a dreamlike look that I’m not sure they were going for. However, it’s easily one of the best looking PC games out there right now. I’ve heard rumblings about how there aren’t as many diverse level locations in UT3, but one of the stated goals during development was that they wanted a cohesive set of maps that looked like they belong in the same universe and I think they’ve done an excellent job of that. Instead of filling the map list with homogenous levels or tossing in the oddball “Okay, now Deathmatch on a viking boat!” levels, they’ve built nearly fourty of them that have strong ties, but distinct features. The return of showering gibs is quite welcome as is the violent roll and shake of the camera when you’re killed. It’s a small touch that makes you smile a little even when it’s you that is painting the scenery with your own body parts. The decision to use dynamic music in game is pretty interesting as it’s quite cool to hear your good and bad actions punctuated by sound just like they do in film. It’s very subtle but effective. Most of the voices are pretty good, especially in the story mode, though some of the female voices were a little unconvincing. These girls are supposed to be tough and some of the aggressive taunts come off like someone reading a script in a studio. Throughout the story, the f-word is tossed about pretty liberally, so it’s quite odd to hear a taunt like “Eff Yeah!” in the midst of a life and death struggle. Why pull punches? Weapon sounds are appropriately chunky and explosions go boom.

Brizz: The graphics in UT3 are pretty amazing. Even at low details the game stands up very well to modern games. Does it look as good as Crysis? In most circumstances, no. Does it look great? In most circumstances, yes. At the highest details you are going to need a beast of a machine, but how is that different from any new generation game? Needless to say, this game is going to run on your two year old hardware well, or extremely well on the machine you bought yesterday.

The audio in the game is awesome, simply put. Compared to previous games, the sound is much grittier. Musical fan favorites have been remixed and stuck back in the game. The weapon sounds are much more deep and guttural, they actually sound dangerous. The game is not without audio problems though. Even on standard 2.1 audio cards, the Manta is often very difficult to hear, even when it is squashing you. Some weapons fire and other audio cues are very muted in many situations which does not help particularly when you are trying to find the location they are coming from. Hopefully, though, most of these problems will be fixed in patches.

Dark_Pulse: You would be very, very strongly advised to get at least a dualcore for this game. A single-core CPU, even at high speeds, simply will not cut it on anything past low or medium detail. On high, though, UT3 shines; things are lush and detailed, and maps have that certain je nais sais quois to them that makes them very believable. Then there's the little details... explosive body gibbing, the old-style headshots, or as I like to call it, the "Rolling headshot deathcam", things SOUND visceral. When you run over someone, there's this messy, chunky, wet crushing noise, and the weapons sound quite meaty and powerful. Even the death cries will make it rather obvious when someone is about to deplete their respawner by 1.


Now I’m about to spoil the ending of the singleplayer campaign for those of you that haven’t already seen it because I want to use it to make a point. After the final battle with Akasha, our hero Reaper, having delivered on his promise for redemption, finds himself surrounded by Necris, charges his Rocket Launcher, and…. well… it just ends. It’s a remarkable parallel for the game. Epic, as promised, delivers a fantastic multiplayer gameplay experience reminiscent of Unreal Tournament but pulls up short of making it enjoyable to get there. I expect great gameplay from an Epic game, but I also expect it to be easy to customize. It’s a tradition that they have made almost a trademark over the years – great game, great support, and play it your way. Indeed the support processes have already started and patch one, after four betas, has just been released. It does address a number of popular complaints and restore a few missing features, but there's so much more to go. The weak multiplayer interface is simply shocking. Not only does that part of the game not live up to the best that the industry has to offer, but it doesn’t even live up to past Tournaments. UT, released in 1999, was one of the first games to include an in-game IRC client and a community news page, both quite innovative for their time. Where are the innovations in this area in 2007? Yeah, half the people that bought the previous games never went online and all, but what about the other fifty percent?

Dark_Pulse: UT3, while quite a good game to me, feels a little... unfinished, for lack of a better word. It could've used perhaps a few more player models, a few more maps, a few more of... well, everything, really, except perhaps for UI Menus. Does this mean it's a bad game? Absolutely not. The gameplay is solid, fun, and frantic, one thing they've always promised and delivered on. The quick release of Patch 1 helped quite a bit, but it's still got a long way to go. Fortunately, it's more of a downhill battle than an uphill one - in due time custom maps, characters, and gamemodes will be released, and by this time next year we should be able to look back at the launch and regardless of how good or bad you think it is now, be glad that it happened. Some games might look prettier, some might have better storylines, and some might have more online players, but you won't find a game that, regardless of how the market changes, sticks to its guns for its longtime fans.

Sir_Brizz: Overall, UT3 is bound to be the best game in the series so far. Taking a note from the pages of UT2003, the only direction the game can go with after-market support from Epic is up, and as they have proved with the first patch, they fully intend on supporting this game. While looking through the menus might give you heartburn at the lack of certain traditional features, the gameplay is exactly what we have all wanted. And though it may feel a chore to get to the gameplay, after a bit of getting used to the menus, you'll be getting in like a star and never looking back.

From a pure gameplay perspective, UT3 delivers in a big way. Consider it redeemed. However, it’s currently mired down in a boatload of functionality issues. With a lot of patching and an overhaul of the front end, you could easily give it five to ten more points in an overall score.

Graphics: (95) Incredibly talented artists and UE3 at the highest settings looks brilliant.

Audio: (90) Dynamic music and beefy sounds are marred only by occasional audio cut-out.

Gameplay: (95) Back to basics, in-your-face gameplay. Vehicles are only a couple of tweaks from perfection.

Multiplayer: (90) This is really why you buy UT3.

Singleplayer: (70) A lackluster story, great cutscenes, and simple botmatches, but there's probably more branching and replayability than most people are aware.

Technical: (60) Glitches, broken or missing features, and an unintuitive interface weigh around the game like a stone.

Personal Bias: (90) It's Unreal!

Sir_Brizz: 88%, Dark_Pulse: 89%, Hunter: 90%

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