Normally, I’d kick off the review by looking at the singleplayer game first and then moving on to look at the multiplayer as a secondary element. For most games, that’s the way it should be – but UT3 is the exception. No matter how revamped and interesting the singleplayer campaign is, I don’t think that anybody will buy this game on the promise of it.
It’s all about the multiplayer fragfest instead and there really is no joy like littering a battlefield with dozens of gibs. If this review wasn’t in a written format then this would be the point where I’d do my evil laugh.
The multiplayer set-up isn’t fundamentally any different to previous games in the Unreal Tournament series. There’s a standard array of game modes, maps and mutators to use. You choose the combination you want and then jump into the action, either against the bots or online.
The game modes are perhaps the first immediate weakness for the game. It’s not that they are bad in anyway at all, as each one is carefully balanced and has maps to suit it, it’s just that there’s nothing really new here.
There’s the standard three game types – Deathmatch, Team DM and Capture The Flag. If I need to explain how these work to you then you should probably stop reading the review here and go find a hammer to destroy your computer with. There’s no hope left for you and you probably can’t even handle a game of Pong. Honestly, I’m surprised you’re even liteerete literate.
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On top of these three are the Duel and Vehicle CTF game types. Duel is pretty interesting to try as it’s a one-on-one match which uses a queuing system which lets the winner stay on to face the next opponent. Frankly though, I don’t think it’ll really attract people until a lightsaber duel mod is made which emulates the fun of Jedi Knight II.
There’s also the Warfare mode, which is a blend of the old Onslaught and Assault modes. Gameplay has players in two teams battling across a huge map to capture various nodes until they can make a path to the enemy base, which then becomes vulnerable. Warfare differs from the old Onslaught mode though in that it uses extra nodes and orbs which can be used for instant captures and bonuses.
The various modes are all as fun as they ever were, but it would have been nice to see something newer in the mix to help put UT3 ahead on the innovation front. Smooth, well balanced gameplay and thoroughly tested maps will take you so far, but that extra mile is still lacking.
There’s a whole load of maps available for each game mode when the game is freshly opened and they cater for groups and matches of pretty much all sizes. There are some levels in there which are incredibly annoying though, such as Sandstorm which has a horrible dust cloud sweep across the level periodically. For the most part though the levels are all well constructed and often beautiful in their design and architecture.
It’s a little contradictory that I just slagged off the Sandstorm level and that I’m about to talk about vehicles and share a story which illustrates how well the level is designed, I know. Just shut up and be thankful I gave you some forewarning of this impending contradiction, m’kay?
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The story in question involves a pair of players who had gotten high onto a watchtower near my base. One of them was sniping and destroying infantry, the other using the Longbow Avril to destroy vehicles. Nobody could get near them.
Swearwords and smacktalk were thrown around. I snapped, losing ten times in a row as I tried to get closer until I managed to find the right vehicle tactic to kill them. It was a simple attack, but beautifully orchestrated.
I charged forward with the Viper, a fast moving ground vehicle which can jump and glide through the air for short periods. Low on health, I rushed them and jumped at the last minute as rockets whizzed by so that the Viper was on a collision course. I then activated the self-destruct, bailed in mid air and landed unhurt to hear the words “BULLSEYE” yelled in my ears as the Viper blew up and took them both out.
The battle was fair once more, there was a cheer or two as my team rushed forwards at last. We lost the match in the end and I was near the bottom of the scoreboard, but it didn’t matter to me. One of the best things about UT3 is that there is always a chance to salvage a situation and that, because every match is different, players always have a story to tell at the end of it.