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Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3 is a first-person shooter and a sequel to previous, widely popular Unreal titles. PC and PlayStation 3 users received this game well over half a year before release on the XBox 360. While such a delay might cause lackluster reception, 360 users should not feel shunned in any regard. UT3 is a solid title that holds much for those willing to give it a shot.

Unreal Tournament 3 starts off with a lengthy cutscene that serves to bring the fairly simple plot info focus. After choosing which character you control, you are placed into the first mission that serves as a tutorial as the computer character explains the various controls to you. While those familiar with the Unreal games might find this a little unnecessary, newcomers will be relieved to have a introduction to the game. One of the first things that those new to the series will realize is that the game is fast, really fast. If FPS games were cars, Unreal Tournament 3 would be a Ferrari whereas other FPS titles might feel more like the family station wagon.

The game features many different gametypes from which to choose from. There are the standard offerings such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. In addition there are a couple of other modes. Duel is a mode where a single player plays against another player. Queued up behind these players are others waiting to take on the winner. When one person wins, the loser goes back to the end of the line while the person next up fights the winner. It is a mode I first saw in Star Wars: Jedi Academy. Another gametype takes the standard Capture the Flag and adds in vehicles to rename the gametype Vehicle Capture the Flag. The gametype works the same as normal CTF, however there are vehicles on the map to add in another element to the strategy. The final game type is a combination of two different game types seen in previous Unreal games. Warfare takes Assault and Onslaught to combine them into a new mode. In this game type, the goal is to defeat your opponents energy core. Throughout the map are nodes that you can capture to extend your control. Captured nodes also can supply weapons and vehicles for your use. Capturing nodes is also necessary so that the enemy core can be exposed for direct attacks.

Single player mode takes you through various missions that comprise of the game modes mentioned above. You are supplemented with computer control bots that fight along side you against the enemy bots. Normally any game that has you relying on AI bots leaves much to be desired, the bots do actually a nice job of dispatching enemies and trying to achieve goals in the various gametypes.

Where the game really shines is its multiplayer offerings. You can go alone ane get matched up with random players on XBox Live to fight against another team made up of XBox Live players or a computer controlled team of bots. Or, you can partner up with friends to play against Live opponents or a computer team of bots. The game has a nice offering of maps and gametypes that make for an enjoyable selection that doesn't feel stale after just a few matches. The depth of the gametypes makes for an enjoyable gaming session and is one of the reasons that this game has much replay to offer gamers.

Achievements are nicely split between single player and online multiplayer. A number of achievements will be awarded for completing the various chapters of the game and ultimately finishing it. In addition, another set of single player achievements are awarded for completing the game at the hardest difficulty setting. Online multiplayer achievements come in various forms from completing the game in co-op mode to ones for reaching different goals in each of gametypes. Many achievements are spread out and difficult enough to obtain that you should require many games played before you are able to boast a perfect score of 1000 points and 50 out of 50 achievements.

Graphically, the game looks amazing. Backgrounds are lush and provide a sense of depth to all of the action happening on screen. Detail was provided to the various aspects of the game that really shine through and make the game almost come to life. Weapons are detailed and stand out as your character holds and fires each round. Vehicles provide a sense of scale as characters pilot them. Smaller hoverboard and personal crafts types stand out just enough to make them noticeable during intense fire fights. The larger vehicles dwarf the action below as you maneuver them throughout each area you find yourself in.

Not only are the graphics very well done, but the audio portions of the game stand out as well. Each weapon has a distinctive sound as you fire each weapon. Explosions sound massive as they deal their damage to vehicles and competitors alike. The only drawback from the audio portion of the game is that of the computer controlled bots. Each character has their own snarky comments and other, sometimes, useful information they relay during matches. You will often hear the same phrases repeatedly during each match. However, this is a minor criticism of an otherwise great game.

Compared to the PC and PS3 versions, the 360 release may feel like a stripped down and crippled release. User created modifications are not supported on the 360 version. Nor are the ability to use a mouse and keyboard supported. I don't believe that this release was to cater to those Unreal veterans that would prefer the familiarity of a mouse and keyboard. Instead, this was a way to bring the game to a wider audience so that they could truly appreciate the hard work put into it by the folks at Epic. For fans of the series, this will be an easy decision to make. Those unfamiliar or new to the series will have a bit of a learning curve as they become used to the speed and controls. But, patience and practice will be rewarded and any FPS fan will enjoy this solid title addition to the 360 library.