Unreal Tournament 3 (XBOX 360)

It’s nearly 10 years since UT brought competative fragging to the masses in it;s first installment. Now after several months the 3rd rendition is now out on the 360.
Read my Fidget review here to see how it plays.

Unreal Tournament III

3/5
Unreal Tournament III

It’s an interesting irony that although there are plenty of games based on real sports, few were invented solely in the world of gaming. The one which arguably does buck that trend is Unreal Tournament. Having burst onto the scene in 1999 as a spin-off from the original Unreal, it quickly took over as the far better game. Basing itself around a grand championship of gun-toting althletes and aliens, competing to see who was the biggest badass in the galaxy; it took the existing multiplayer modes into its own and made them brilliant.

It’s been almost ten years since then and the third installment of the series has finally arrived on the 360 some months after the PC and PS3 incarnations, which thankfully means all the add-on maps and features released later are included on the disc. Not that there is any significant difference between formats, the graphics are still shockingly nice, even if it all looks a bit too much like Gears of War. (not surprising since they are both made by Epic).

Taking a change from the previous games, UT3 throws in a storyline for the single player mode, set in a future city with ‘respawners’ dotted around. Frankly this smacks of a pretty lame attempt to move away from the Tournament concept, in favour of a more conventional ‘Aliens messed up my town’ revenge plot and yeah, it is a stupid as it sounds, is completely unnecessary considering the game is about a Tournament and worst of all it makes the actual playing of the game seem like a tedious stream of odd battles rather than a competative sport.

If you ignore the feeble plotting, and you should, the mechanics of the game still manage to impress as the pace is as frenetic as it is measured. There’s still a lot of satisfaction from executing a jump while ploughing a ball of shrapnel into an opponent and watching him evaporate into chunky salsa. The computer AI remains decent albeit with a tendency to hang about rather than press on unless ordered. There are also a nice new crop of huge and speedy vehicles on the larger maps, and the inclusion of personal hoverboards is nice, allowing you to hang a ride on the back of a jeep or tank.

The trouble is, none of it feels very new, the same bane of all Sports games has now finally happened to gaming’s own sport. More often than not the game feels like a rehash of the older versions. The maps and weapons; while prettier and with new effects, are still the same basic design and everything still feels decidedly antiquated. For a game of this pedigree that’s hardly a terrible indictment but it remains that for anyone who cut their teeth on an older UT game, there isn’t much here to warrant forking out for it again. For everyone else, it’s a must.

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