One of the great pioneers of the online FPS genre resurfaces to prove itself amongst the number of games that followed its lead. It has been eight years since the first tournament was held and it seems the trend of online fragging hasn’t died. Epic Game’s Unreal Tournament III returns to the battle without any rust in its armour. As fast as you, Unreal Tournament III loads up for one more round in the deathmatch arena.
Unreal Tournament has seen its share of battles since it was spawned in late 1999. From the PC gaming transferred onto last generation hardware, Unreal Tournament has grown far from its initial roots that started on the now classic FPS, Unreal. Unreal Tournament is mainly referred to as a PC shooter; however its release on the PS3 Midway is looking to change gamer’s perspective of Unreal Tournament and console shooters. Closely adapted from the PC version, Unreal Tournament III supports everything beneficial from the PC world with full support of Sony’s FREE online network.
One factor that has contributed to Unreal success is that it really hasn’t changed up is formula much. The only real switch up in the series are vehicles that surfaced in Unreal Tournament 2004. Besides vehicles the same weapons and gameplay concepts have been continuously strung together over each version. If you have battled it out with UT before then you know exactly what you are getting into. This remains constant with Unreal Tournament III. Sure, the appearance of the game has been updated, but in its core mechanics it’s the same old gem gamers have come to love over the years. If you are planning on firing up Unreal Tournament III for the first time expect a online structured game with strong competition and fast gameplay. Unreal Tournament III has a single player campaign but it’s only a story wrapped around multiplayer gameplay.
Unreal Tournament has never had a cohesive single player experience and this continues in UT3. It’s an option from the main menu, but believe me there isn’t much substance to this mode. What the single player campaign is good for a training ground to learn the maps, the weapons, and how to fight in Unreal. The story that is thrown together involves a soldier named Reaper who is in a war with an alien race. Reaper is saved by his sister in the opening scenes and this starts you adventure build your way up the ranks to take a close up shot at the evil aliens, the Necris. What this really translates to in game, is fight these guys here, move to this map, fight more guys here all based around the multiplayer features. If there is one benefit to the single player game is that you can play co-op through a public server letting a friend join you in the fun.
If you try the single player campaign or skip to the meat on the bone you’ll have the same core experience. The real difference between the two version are that you are either A) online with real people, or B) offline with bots. Either online with other gamers, or against cohesive computer controlled bots one fact is universal, Unreal Tournament III is a unforgiving roller coaster war ride with the fastest gameplay seen online. Fast reflexes and a keen sense for avoiding rockets helps keep you alive in this game, but the way to become good at Unreal is simple, play it and play it a lot. The more time you give yourself to the game the more you’ll get out of it. Like the PC versions, the PS3 will be supporting mods so if you’re into the experience you will likely be playing this game for a long time.
Following suite from Unreal Tournament 2004, new vehicles have been added on the alien side of the skirmish with Necris tanks; air crafts walkers, hover bikes and orbish vehicles called “Scavengers”. These undead humans act as a good counter to the normal Axon vehicle that is a collection of tanks like the “Goliath” and buggies “Scorpion” to the air “Raptor” and “Cicada”. In total Unreal Tournament III sports over ten different vehicles that each feel unique and have a distant advantage on the playing field.
In game modes you have similar entries as previous editions of Unreal Tournament with the familiar, Team and solo Deathmatch modes, Capture the Flag with or without vehicles, Duel which is a one vs. one queue system, and Warfare. Warfare is a new mode that is a combination of Assault and Onslaught from the past. In Warfare you have nodes which have to be captured and defended for a period of time before they are operational. Once obtained they can be used as spawn point for vehicles or countdown nodes that offer up special talents like instant defending. One mode that didn’t make it into UT3 is one of my favorites being Domination, or Double Domination. Now I guess it’s up to the community to reproduce these modes.
One good aspect to Tournament being on the PS3 is that you can play UT3 with the controls you want. If you come from the PC world and want to have that experience on your console, you can with USB keyboard and mouse support. The sixaxis controller is easy to grasp and can be set up to move as fast as a mouse setup and admittedly moves a little smoother than the mouse on the PS3. Either way you want to play Unreal the options are there. I’d even suggest that each gamer give the other option a try, you never know which one will suit you better. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to set up and you are running.
Since UT3 has quick action you’ll have to get use the controls fairly quickly to survive. Luckily learning the controls is easy because the resembling the standard FPS layout with a few extras. You can double jump by timing your jumps properly, you can also dodge with ease. I wasn’t too keen on the button placement with “X” representing the dodge button and the way you select weapons using the left thumbstick, however these are personal grips that might not bother other gamers. All in all, Unreal Tournament on the PS3 is very responsive which adds the fun and fluid nature of the game.
I briefly mentioned the ability for the PS3 version to accept user created content. This will be a major bonus to the PS3 version of UT3 compared to the Xbox 360 version that is scouted to be released next year. The Unreal community is large and they create some spectacular modes and better yet they will be free. This is one aspect PC gamers have always had over the consoles, however it seems Sony is keen on building that bridge with the hopes of snagging a few PC gamers on the way. When content is release UT3 should gain a boost in popularity extending the games shelf life greatly.
The online section of UT3 is set up like the PC with the ability to jump on any server running with a view of the host, map, number of players and ping. It is easy to pick a server and run with it. There are no matchmaking services like Halo, so you’ll have to risk the chance of being crushed, but its type of surprises that keep Unreal Tournament interesting. You never know after a few boards of getting beat to a sniffling schoolgirl, you might just come out on top in a mach feeling like the king of the world.
Unreal Tournament III is an inessential addition to your PS3 library if you enjoy online FPS. The action is fast paced, challenging and highly addictive. Plus, the Playstation platform gives a lot of freedom to the user with the ability to choose their controlling device along with the ability to download new user created content in the future.
If you’re not into the online aspects then Unreal Tournament is only worth a rental. Unreal Tournament III easily belongs in the top ten of shooters of 2007, but there is nothing here for the single player gamer. The goal of Unreal Tournament never has been its single player experience and Unreal Tournament III continues this concept. So if fragging friends online in a highly competitive and fun atmosphere sounds fun, you need to check out Unreal Tournament III. More Unreal always equals more good times, have yourself a Red Bull and join the fight.