Epic Games has made a few gamers smile after announcing that Unreal Tournament III wouldn’t only be a PS3 exclusive, that it would also finds its way to the Xbox 360, in time. This time has arrived and we have fired up our Xbox, logged into Live and tried out this impressive frag-fest on Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Let’s see how this version stacks up and get the final verdict on the fastest FPS on the market.
Unreal Tournament III for the Xbox 360 has a reputation to live up to. Not only did the Playstation 3 counterpart score big with gamers and critics, Unreal Tournament has a history of remarkable fast paced online first person shooters. Trust me on that one; I have spent my fare share of time snipping runners Facing Worlds. Unreal Tournaments III effortlessly pulls the gamer into its world of futuristic combat, control nodes, and deathmatch frenzies. Epic has done a great job developing the game with a focus on speed, balance, and design which all flows over to the Xbox 360 version. Then they turn it up a notch with its excellent online service from Microsoft, but that’s about it. Besides featuring a few Gears of War plugs and split screen multiplayer, Unreal feels a little light with nothing of substance to sway you from the PS3 version of the game, actually you might see it as slightly lacking. If you are new to Unreal Tournament III and looking to pick this one up, I’d go with your preferred gaming system.
I don’t want to downplay Unreal Tournament III’s strong performance as an online shooter. Unreal Tournament III simply put is one of the easiest and fastest playing shooter you can find. Other game developers have been releasing their own multi-player focused shooters over the years, including a few new entries in 2008, but none match the style and speed of Unreal. It’s too bad that the old rivalry between Id Software’s Quake and Epic’s Unreal didn’t continue onto this generation. Yes, both companies have released games in '08, but if you have played Id’s latest effort Quake Wars, then you know Unreal Tournament has this one in the bag. Epic still has the stuff, and unreal’s roots remain firmly planted as one of the great online shooters still in 2008.
Bumper to Bumper
One major adjustment the developer has made porting the game for the Xbox 360 has been changing the control scheme. While Unreal Tournament III remains closely linked to the PS3 controls you will have the use of the bumpers to change weapons and quick face buttons for use of your quick changes and jump movements. The Xbox 360 is comparative to the PS3 and depending on which control your prefer for games, that will work the best in Unreal Tournament III. Even though console games have been streamlined to a generalized control scheme, games like Unreal will never feel totally at home until you have a mouse in your hands.
Unreal Tournament III features a number of modes that will test the most seasoned FPS gamer. These modes can be enjoyed offline, or online with full bot support. Eight levels of difficulty are attached to the pre-programmed bots that seem to have learned from the best. From novice to insane, there is a challenge for every gamer. As expected online matches are always more intense and crazy, but the bots do a good job of recreating the feeling of battling strangers online. As expected you have the standard match types; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag (with or without vehicles), and Duel (1 vs. 1). The special mode in Unreal Tournament III is called Warffare, formally known as Conquest. The Warfare mode has gamers fighting over control nodes as they link them together to destroy the enemies base. Playing Warfare is probably the best way to experience everything Unreal, from defense actions to total team aggression. It's great to see this large online concepts like this in Unreal, its too bad some of the other Unreal Tournament modes like Domination and Last Man Standing got scratched off the drawing board.
Uh, what's a Necris?
The storyline aspect in Unreal Tournament III isn’t a factor even as I explored the universal skirmish for a second time. You might stick around to learn a few of your allies names, but as far as a plot is concerned, really who cares? Playing through the single player campaign is fun since it’s treated like an online match, but don’t expect a story driven epic like Halo. Thankfully, Epic has attached some nice achievements to the single player campaign that gives gamers a reason to stick with it. They also reward gamers who have mad skills as insane difficulty achievements are mirrored in the campaign.
After the single player missions and the multiplayer modes you can practice you skill by selecting ‘Instant Action’. This mode jumps into any of the six game modes and customize them so you can work on aspects of your game. Options like the goal score, time limit, bot skill levels, available mutators and opposing factions can be adjusted for a great Unreal workout.
Special for You, Xbox 360
Benefiting Unreal’s late release on the Xbox 360 is the chance for Epic to include the three maps that have been released after the fact for the PC and PS3. These three maps stacked up with five new exclusive levels give the Xbox 360 a fighting chance against the familiarity of the PC and the add-on modes for the PS3. Maps are important in a FPS like Unreal and we are happy to see some extra content bumped over to the Xbox 360. Unreal Tournament also brings a few nice touches with the help of Xbox Live. When you’re playing a game a buddy can jump into your guest account and share in the action online via split screen. This one option of split-screen guests is a clear selling point, and one that other developer have been skimping out on in their games. As for original content via mods, you'll have to look elsewhere then on a Microsoft console. User generated content is a big no-no, and even Unreal can't change Microsoft's stance.
Unreal Tournament III showing on the Xbox 360 is in top form. Epic Game’s Unreal Tournament III still proves why it’s one of the most successful and loved online shooters of the last decade. The only major fault comparing all three releases of this title is downloadable mod support, and really if you are into that scene you probably already own either of the two other versions. Even without the editor Unreal Tournament III proves to be a flushed out port that hasn’t lost any speed. If you haven’t experienced Unreal Tournament III yet, it’s a safe purchase if you enjoy online gaming and fast paced FPS. Midway, the Xbox community thanks you for bringing your beloved into the hands of many Xbox 360 gamers worldwide.
Gameplay:8.5, Graphics:8.5, Sound:8, Innovation:8, Mojo:9 Final: 8.4 / 10