Unreal Tournament III (US Import) PS3 Review - 01/02/2008

The Unreal Tournament series has been around for quite a while and has made a huge impact on the multiplayer gaming universe that we all know and love today. Unreal began way back in November 1999 and has been a big success ever since, but will this latest instalment prove to be worthy of the series?

The Unreal Tournament games have gathered great acclaim on the PC, but have always been overlooked and underrated when placed on a home console like the PS2. Epic Games have promised us the best port in years, and boy have they delivered.

The games have never possessed a meaty single player, but Epic wanted to change all of this as they knew that most gamers play offline rather than online. So they have added one this time round. The main protagonist of the story is Reaper and you will play solely as him throughout the entire campaign. He looks a lot like Marcus Fenix from Gears of War, but the game play is a hell of a lot different from Epic's last outing. The story is told from Reaper and his crew's point of view as they are attacked by Krall; large, lizard like hedgehogs, at their home planet's mining colony, right up until they are trying to save the universe from undead Necris soldiers. What really makes this title stand out though, are its various weapons and vehicles. They range from the gloop spewing Bio-rifle, to the Rocket Launcher that can fire 3 projectiles at once. With tons of different firing modes and a great announcer to boot (e.g. "Headshot"), the presentation of Unreal Tournament 2008 is superb.

The single-player is hardly ground-breaking, but some of the weapons, with returning old favourites too, are just fantastic.

It's all there on paper, but unfortunately the game doesn't include a lot of variety. Sure, it's a basic "tutorial" for the game's excellent multiplayer modes, but it's nothing new and it doesn't make you feel any emotion towards any of the characters whatsoever. Instead it feels like an online game with a few cut scenes in-between. What is missing from this very mediocre attempt at a campaign mode is the option for split-screen. After all, this is mainly based on multiplayer, so I can't see any reason for not quickly throwing in a split-screen mode so that your buddy can play instead of just watch you.

Though having said that, even watching isn't too bad, the graphics are pretty crisp on 720p and hold at a very steady 30 frames-per-second during the entire game, something crucial in the fast-paced arenas or Unreal games. Most of the character models are clear as well as some very high detail and damage physics on vehicles. When the Scorpion, a fast jeep with retractable blades, collides with a wall, it will take the respective blade off. Some of these minor instances make the game stand out, especially when compared to Incognito's multiplayer offering, Warhawk, which shows no evidence of damage on vehicles (unless bursting into flames a few seconds before you die, or unless a damage bar counts). Obviously, as this game is rated Mature (17+) there is a lot of gore, and a few swear words, so this really isn't suitable for youngsters.

Vehicles make an appearance too, looking great with impressive damage physics

The gameplay is pretty innovative. It plays a lot like Unreal Tournament 2004, but for those that have not played any other titles in this long-running series, it is quite like Resistance: Fall of Man. Its controls are really easy to melt into. R1 is primary fire, L1 is alternate fire, X is jump and the analogue stick controls your character's movement. The controls are indeed like most of the FPS shooters out there, such as COD4 and Orange Box, but it's a control set that everybody is familiar with, so if it ain't broke, why fix it? Taunts and orders are also incorporated into the game, with hilarious actions such as hip-thrusts as well as a hula-hoop. These are best used at the end of the game if you get the last kill, when everybody's camera will focus on you and you can dance over a fallen body. The orders don't work as well, this is mainly because the AI are terribly designed. The basic commands are there, such as attack and defend, but although these sound useful, the bots will still shoot anything that moves, even you sometimes! And they may chase round the entire map, just to kill one person. This can be especially annoying if you've set them into a defending position to protect a node in a Warfare match!

And we now finally come to the game's brilliant multiplayer. As the dawn of the new era begins, the PS3 can finally show off its online capabilities. These include up to 16 player matches, and modification support (mods). There are several options to choose from, including; a handful of modes, mouse and keyboard support, character customisation, voice chat, and 20 maps straight from the box. I have never experienced any problems online, and mice and keyboards work really well in gameplay It has to be said however, that it is a little slower generally when compared to the PC version of the game. The mods that are being released seem to work very well and some appear very professionally made. I have downloaded a number straight from the PS3's internet browser onto a memory stick. To install a mod, you simply scroll down to options, then choose my content, and install. It's as simple as that, and they add some great twists to the game to increase its replay value. My personal favourite would be the action cam, which transforms the game into a 3rd person mode. It totally changes the game's Run N' Gun combination into a Gears of War-esque cover shooter due to the player being able to see past walls. Another is the added gore mod, for those who can't get enough of guts, brains and limbs flying across the screen.

The only problem that causes a lot of frustration, will be the 13 year old American with the sniper shouting "Did you see that sweet headshot buddy?" Or the classic "You n00b!".

- Sam Foster



Midway Games
Epic Games
PS3 - PC