Monday, July 21, 2008

Unstoppable.... The Unreal Tournament III (360) Review

Unreal Tournament III has been around for a while on other platforms (PC and PS3), but it finally makes its appearance on the Xbox 360 with some new content along with the same fast and intense FPS action that the series has provided. As an "old-school" first-person shooter that separates itself from the current crop of shooters that have more depth, UT3 is more of a relief of bringing back the glory days of late 90s shooters (The Doom, Quake, first UT days) into the new generation of consoles. Despite being that simple of a shooter, it remains to be seen whether or not this type of shooter is relevant now with Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 continuing to dominate the online world on 360. With the chaotic and simple gameplay along with great graphics and sound, Unreal Tournament III is a solid shooter to check out on 360 whether or not you are late to the party or not.

Epic wanted to improve the single-player component for UT3, but they still came away short with a campaign that still consists of bot matches, but with cutscenes that tell the storyline. In the campaign, you play as Reaper, another space marine on a quest of revenge against the Necris, an alien-like race that has wrecked havoc on the Earth. Other than that, the story is pretty bare-bones and it is just an excuse to get used to the game's modes and mechanics before hopping on to multiplayer. There is also instant action modes for more practice against bot-like opponents that can be customized to be way easy or difficult (godlike in Unreal terms). For an easier time compared to the PC version, the game does allow a little auto-aim, but it is still up to the player to be efficient using typical FPS-like controls. The vehicles also have simple control following console FPS traditions, but some of them are truly worth the drive especially the Necris vehicles. If you bought this just for the single-player without a Live connection, don't expect to be amazed even though the campaign on Intense will provide a good challenge. In addition, the lack of mod support that the PS3 and PC versions also hurts the replay value for this 360 version a bit.

The multiplayer, on the other hand, is the cream and crop of Unreal Tournament III as with previous games in the series on PC. All of the modes are playable from the staples Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Duel. Warfare is the new addition to UT3 which involves lots of nodes to link to attack a team's core. This mode offers lots of teamwork in order to do well especially when to be aggressive in attacking the opposing core or defend other nodes to keep the opponent defending. Exculsive to the 360 version is splitscreen and co-op play that can be played locally and online with other players. Even guests on the same console can play player matches online along with someone, which is cool. Online play is the main reason why Unreal Tournament is still around in today's world of gaming as the addicting action of killing sprees and monster kills is still as fun as it was back in the beginning days of the original UT. The signature Unreal weapons of the Flak Cannon, Shock Rifle, and the Rocket Launcher are still amazing to use in blasting enemies and opponents away in close or long range. The online multiplayer runs smoothly with minimal lag and a deep leaderboard system keeps track of victories, kills, awards, flag captures, and orbs returned.

Graphically, Unreal Tournament III looks pretty good on 360 with Epic's own Unreal Engine 3 doing the goods. The environments have tons of variety with over 50 maps in the game from a space facility, Chinese temples, urban-like settings, and more. The characters themselves also look great and similar to Gears of War with all that heavy armor they wear (well Epic made both games). While some will say that this game looks too similar to Gears, pending whether or not you are new to the Unreal games after playing Gears, it still looks better than most shooters in the market today.

As for the sound, Unreal Tournament III also delivers the goods. The music is great and moody pending on which map you are playing on. The weapons still sound as accurate as they were in previous games with the explosions and more. Even the signature announcing is pretty good as a staple of the franchise. It is just satisfying to hear the announcer say Rampage!!! or Flak Master!!! The voice acting, however, is still as cheesy as expected with generic lines coming out of the characters as if they are talking smack.

As a first-person shooter in this era of consoles, Unreal Tournament III is not as deep as other shooters, but it is still a good time especially for a game that goes fast and simple at a consistent 30 frames per second. There is enough content to satisfy anyone for weeks and months with the huge number of maps, different modes, and the intense competition online. While Epic has tried to improve the single-player campaign by giving it more of a meaningful story, it ends up being generic and an excuse for more bot matches. The game also looks great at Unreal Engine 3 even though some texture pop-in may happen at rare instances. It is also a good game to blast up the sound system for the music and the announcers. Even though this game is almost a year old, it is still a great shooter on 360 for fans of the genre and maybe Gears fans if they want to see a lengthy video about Gears 2.

Score = 8/10

  • Fast and frantic FPS gameplay.
  • Loads of content along with additional maps, characters, and splitscreen for the 360 version.
  • Great graphics and sound under Unreal Engine 3.
  • Pointless story for the single-player as another excuse for more bot matches.
  • Gameplay not as deep as other shooters on 360.
  • Voice acting for the characters can be cheesy at times.
  • No mod support compared to PS3 and PC versions.

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