Saturday, May 16, 2009
UNREAL TOURNAMENT 3 (PC, PS3, 360)
Screw you, gametrailers. The bots are fun to play with.
The latest in the line of the most popular series of competitive games, Unreal Tournament 3 doesn't take a step in the right direction. That's not a bad thing, because it gets comfy where it is and makes what it's got damn good. There just isn't alot new.
UT3 takes us back into the undefined world of destruction, carnage, tournaments, and guns. Lots of guns. Especially explosive ones. Alot of the weapons are quite tricky to handle, as none of them can be used effectively against another. It's all very balanced. You can grab one gun, get good at it and then snag another and be just as proficient. Of course, the guy with the rocket launcher is going to beat the guy with the pistol by a longshot but that's common fact. All of the weapons are designed cleverly, everything feels very weighted and satisfying to shoot, even down to the little old enforcer pistol. A favourite of mine would have to be the Flak Cannon, the game's substitute for a shotgun. This thing is great.
What's not to love about a four-pronged device of death that launches white-hot chunks of metal?
Yes, the multiplayer's there. Yes, it's fast-paced and carnage-heavy. And yes, it's a ton of fun. Considering the game's age (2007) you'd be surprised, but people are still playing it. It seems not everyone has shuffled back over to halo and cod4. With an external map editor, there's some hilarious maps to be played. I recall one time I played team deathmatch in a giant bathroom. No joke. The worst that I got from it was minor connection issues, but that can be fixed by simply finding another server.
The gameplay is what it's all about. Frenzied combat with a whole armory of weapons. Epic games got this part just right. Every kill you make is, simply put, satisfying. Things take a twist for the better when you download the free "Titan" content pack and upgrade to UT3 black.
The map design is flat-out awesome. Sure, it's all pretty standard deathmatch fare but the appearance of them all is just spectacular. One of my favourites would be [name forgotten], in which you're hopping through portals to reach a tropical waterfall, a high-up tower in a tech city, and a frozen wasteland in the middle of nowhere. There's a few low-grav maps to be found, as well - One has you dueling atop a series of asteroids linked together by a series of bridges.
Now the Mutators, a returning function is where things get awesome. You can change all of the gameplay variables such as making only headshots kill or giving everyone big heads. The best of the bunch is the Titan, which allows players to transform into hulking behemoths with even bigger guns. It's hilarious seeing 2-3 titans duke it out across a huge bridge in vehicle CTF.
I haven't commented on the vehicles yet, have I? Well, their design is as spectacular as the levels. A new faction, the Necris, have their own personal assortment of war of the worlds tripods, weird flyer thingies, and a ball. That's right, a ball. It bowls into people at the speed of sound.
Every texture in UT3 is very well drawn, as well as every model being very well rendered. There's an odd touch to the graphics that I can't put my finger on that makes everything seem antiquated. It's weird. Maybe there's too much bloom. Still, though - the graphics are all very good, and there's parts of the game that look simply beautiful. Now with graphics like that, you'd be expecting some high system requirements. Nope. Everything is bizarrely configurable. Of course, this leads to on-the-fly rendering so when starting a game you'll just have to wait a moment. That just comes with the engine though.
The sound design also fits quite well. Every sound effect matches it's place very well, and there's mighty fine selection of frantic combat music that plays when the shooting begins. I don't really have much to comment about on this subject.
Like I mentioned earlier UT3 features a map editor, which has also been used to develop mods and the like. Snowreal is a funny example with players snowboarding down mountains in a race.
UT3 doesn't bring alot new to the FPS world, but that's not a bad thing. It does very well with and improves on what it's got.
Presentation - 7.9 A hashed together campaign and somewhat unexplained world don't detract much.
Graphics - 8.6 Fantastic design and spectacular locales are backed by low system requirements.
Sound - 8.5 Very good! That's it.
Gameplay - 8.8 It's frantic, it's crazy, and it's a lot of fun.
Overall - 8.5