23 January 2010

Unreal Tournament III - PS3, Xbox 360

I got into gaming journalism because I believe games are the most influential new storytelling medium of my generation (that’s Generation X if you need to know). But I also got into it because I love a great game. Readers of this blog understand our definition of a great game boils down to one simple question: Did you have a great time playing it?
By that standard, I’m here to tell you that Unreal Tournament III is a great game.
I was new to the series when I played this one. As I hunkered down with my XBOX 360 copy, I didn’t know what I was getting into. The main character looks like he could be Dom’s brother (“Gears of War”) and the opening “story” was a little light on details. Then I was dropped into the first mission of the campaign. It’s not really a campaign as much as it is a series of training missions to familiarize you with the real meat of the game — the online mode. Everyone knows this game is all about online frag fests. I’ll get to that later.
But let me tell you first how nice it was to be dropped into a map with decent AI opponents and tons of weapons and power-ups at my disposal. Back in the days before online console gaming was common I would play games like Perfect Dark on the N64 and rejoice in the “bot mode” when I couldn’t get the boys together for a game. Sure, it’s nothing like playing against a human being. But it’s a nice touch, one I wish more FPS games would carry over from the old days.
In UT3, these bots are far superior to those on the N64 classic. They’re nothing compared to the warriors who await you online, but the deeper you get into the campaign mode the more satisfied you will become when your team wins. This is especially true in Warfare mode, which requires a sophisticated amount of AI bot coordination and offers a ton of satisfaction with victory, even when you’re the only human being in the room.
I know a lot of you skipped right over the campaign to go online for blood, and I don’t blame you. The action online is lightning fast — no lag here — and filled with variety. Again, the Warfare mode I mentioned above is particularly satisfying — especially when you’re playing with friends.
As for the graphics and overall presentation, this is what we’ve come to expect from the franchise. The game is beautifully crisp and the level design is fantastic. Characters have the telltale thickness that has become a hallmark of these games, vehicles look appropriately cool and the campaign cutscenes are as good as it gets. For a game that moves this fast and has this much going on, everything looks and plays beautifully.
You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to FPS games. Don't miss this one. It flawlessly executes its mission in a way that few games can match. It knows exactly what it wants to be and it succeeds. The 360 version includes split-screen mode for co-op play, new characters and five additional maps.
And it was published by Midway, our old departed friend.
By Victor Paul Alvarez

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