[Overdue Review] – Unreal Tournament III

I remember the first time I played an Unreal Tournament game. Being able to blast away enemies with absurdly, yet deadly, weapons was intense and exciting. What was even better was seeing the Unreal Engine in action as enemies are flung like ragdolls across the arena. I lost interest in the series until I finally discovered Unreal Tournament III. It takes everything great about Unreal and expands on the formula…slightly.

Much like past Unreal Tournament games, the multiplayer is what sucks you in. The usual tournament-style FPS modes are all here. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag (CTF) all make an appearance and offer their usual charm.

But two new modes offer more variety to the equation. The first, Vehicle CTF offers all of the fun of a capture the flag game now with the additional fun of, you guessed it, vehicles. Players now must access enemy bases by using flying and land vehicles. From there you’re simply tracking down the flag and bringing it back to your team’s base.

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Warfare brings something truly entertaining to the whole mix. The basic structure is that of a control point game, but in Unreal Tournament fashion the control points are now power nodes. Each team starts off at a base core and proceeds to capture the remaining power nodes to connect their power.

This can be done by either destroying the node or bringing your own teams orb for an instant change over to your teams node. Vehicles can also be used. The idea isn’t all that new, but the intensity and fun of attack and defense still makes for fun multiplayer shooting.

The usual line up of Unreal weapons also make they’re return. Rocket launchers, flak cannons and shock rifles are still all in the game with a few small changes to the line-up. Your initial weapon is now a mix between a pistol and a SMG. To be honest I found it to be an incredibly useful weapon with its powerful semi automatic mode and alternate burst fire which can take kill enemies quickly if you’ve got the accuracy. There are some arena-specific weapons like special rocket launchers for Warfare and a weapon that creates a devastating explosion wiping out those nearby.

The maps are much more varied this time around. You still have the run of the mill temple or corridor-laden arenas, but Epic Games decided to add some more urban environments to the mix. The tall buildings make for some intense close-quarters urban fighting and offer a change in scenery, but that’s about as far as new map types go.

Overall everything looks gorgeous in this game. Lighting and water effects make for some dreary-looking cities – similar to the style of old film noir movies. More fantastical arenas offer sun-dappled vegetation, highly detailed surfaces and the usual over the top Unreal arena structure with jump pads and paths that will have you getting lost at times.

Focus on the Multiplayer

The game makes an attempt at providing a single player story-driven campaign, but sadly it falls flat due to the more exciting action happening around you. The game follows the human faction in the game and goes through the motions of changing up game modes as you progress through the story.

Oddly enough the story has nothing to do with an actual tournament. You’re playing Unreal Tournament so the whole concept doesn’t quite make sense. If Epic Games was looking to switch up in any part of the game, it should have been focused more so in multiplayer rather than an attempt at an in-depth story.

Verdict

7.5 / 10 stars           

All in all Unreal Tournament III only attempts to change the formula in a few small ways. For the most part it’s just another iteration in the Unreal Tournament franchise. Despite the lack of change, fans of the series will still find fun with the game’s intense action.

For those of you who are less interested in arena shooters, this isn’t an absolute necessity to play and especially with its weak single-player story. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to flatten someone with my flak cannon.

 Unreal Tournament III is available from Amazon and other retailers. If running, jumping and gunning is your thing, check out our Gaming for Free review of Tribes Ascend.