Unreal Tournament III

I played Unreal Tournament quite a bit “back in the day”, mainly the 2003 version, so I was quite interested in seeing what the next-gen console iteration of the game would be like. I was also interested in seeing how well an FPS translated to the PS3’s control pad.

Second question first: Not well. The L2/R2 triggers on the Sixaxis have never struck me as any use for shooters (or indeed much else), and clearly Epic feels the same way as the weapon triggers are on L1/R1. The game never seems to feel quite right when played with the Sixaxis – perhaps some tweaking to the sensitivity might make a difference, I don’t know. It just doesn’t sit quite right. I’m prepared to put this one down to my preference for the shape of the 360’s pad, but it bears mentioning.

The answer to the first question is, confusingly, both good and bad news: It’s Unreal Tournament.

There are some tweaks to the formula – jumping on a hoverboard and getting a tow from a nearby vehicle is a nice touch. But mostly it’s the same deal as before – the same outlandish selection of weaponry in increasing levels of insanity, the same deathmatch/flag capturing/node linking shenanigans fans of the previous games will have come to love. The main changes, of course, have been in the graphics. The character models are extremely detailed, with their chunky armour having a pleasing Warhammer 40K kind of vibe to it. It’s over the top, but in a good way. Things explode in a very satisfying fashion, plasma beams glow, it’s all very pretty and visceral.

So, it might be said that the game doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It just polishes up the old formula for the shiny new consoles and hands it over so you can make with the fragging. But the point is this: Unreal Tournament, possibly the quintessential adversarial multiplayer experience, doesn’t really need big changes in its gameplay. It does what it does very, very well.

However, and as might be expected from a game that’s totally multiplayer-focused, the single-player campaign is something of a let-down. It’s impossible to convincingly portray a match of Capture the Flag as anything other than what it is, and to be honest I don’t know why they bothered to try – trying to shoe-horn it into a supposed war storyline feels extremely hollow and contrived. On top of which, I don’t know of many battlefields which had a disembodied voice yelling “Double Kill!” almost constantly during the conflict. It seems to me that it would have made more sense to just stick with the old “you are in the tournament” single-player mode from previous versions; at least that would have been consistent. It’s a minor niggle for a game that’s so obviously meant to be played against other people, but I can’t help feeling that the effort spent on building this tenuous campaign world might have been more profitably spent elsewhere.

If you’re able to ignore the laughable plot, the single-player mode makes a good intro to the different game modes, with a little voice-over explaining how to win each one the first time you encounter them. But the real meat of the game is, as ever, in the multiplayer. Which is, predictably, hectic.

For people who’ve never played UT before, the modes are:

Deathmatch / Team Deathmatch: Unless you’ve been under a rock for, well, ever, you should know what these are. Kill the others more times than they kill you. Optionally, do so with some friends.

Capture the Flag: They have a flag. You, also, have a flag. You must get their flag, and bring it to your flag. You must stop them from doing the same thing to you.

Vehicle CTF: The same, but with bigger maps and vehicles. Has the twist that flags cannot be carried on vehicles; if you want to move fast while holding the flag, the hoverboard’s your only option.

Warfare: Capture a network of nodes to link your Power Core to that of the enemy, rendering it vulnerable to attack. Destroy the enemy core to win.

Duel: 1v1, winner stays on. Everyone else on the server spectates.

After an initially confusing multiplayer menu, which may give you the impression that your connection has failed when it actually hasn’t, you’re thrown into the action right away and the fragging commences. From that point on the action rarely lets up for an instant until the match is over. It’s hectic, it’s pulse-pounding, it’s a bit stressful, and I’m not very good at it. It’s Unreal Tournament. And, depending on who you are, that may well be enough of a recommendation, or a condemnation, in itself.







3 responses to “Unreal Tournament III”

  1. NtrailZ avatar

    I was realy looking forward to this coming out after enjoying earlier versions but as you said its just ‘unreal tournament’

    Even online mutliplayer shooters have more to offer than this now, even if it is just a badge.

    The fact that they didn’t add any new weapons is quite lame as well.

    In saying all that it is the only way I will ever be a rocket scientist

  2. Emily avatar

    Yep, the campaign seems very pointless in this, I don’t know why they bothered at all. The opening was brilliant, the rest was just a painful “If we’re gonna win this war, we need a BLUE FLAG!”…

    To be honest I have spent more time offline on this game just walking around the maps, admiring the surroundings by myself.

  3. Mr_Grym_Reaper avatar


    Please can you fix the missing images for the Unreal Tournament 3 review. These aren’t showing up correctly in Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

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