Unreal Tournament 3 avoids the hassles of developing a solid story, and just cuts to the chase, letting you blow away anybody that gets in your way. All you need to know is that in the previous Unreal Tournament titles you were participating in a sport, this time youíre fighting in a war, so just pick up a weapon and fight. Sure, UT3 does feature a single player mode where you play as a soldier named James ďReaperĒ Hawkins, who looks like he could be Marcus Fenixís long lost cousin; but realistically the solo mode is nothing more than an elaborate tutorial to set you up for the online chaos. UT3 keeps it real and does very little to change the formula, so fans of the series will just be able to press play and frag out.
If you choose to play the single player mode to get a feel for things, or if youíre a newbie, the first thing youíre going to notice is how elaborate the world is. The Unreal games have always been known for their mind-blowing graphics, but UT3 raises the stakes tenfold. Too bad most of your time experiencing this maps will be while running for your life and shooting, because if you had the opportunity to just take it all in you would see sites such as tropical islands, castles, floating stations, and mega fortresses. The campaign mode pits you against computer controlled bots and allows you to learn how to use weapons and drive vehicles, acting as a battle simulator to prepare you for when youíre fighting against real players.
Letís be serious; any hardcore UT player is going to skip the campaign mode, because even when youíre playing it at the highest difficulty, and learning every possible way to kill the AI bots, once you jump online youíll have to figure out new tactics and strategies, because players with real flesh and blood will make you their bitch before you can even pull your trigger.
You can duke it out with up to 16 players in the six modes of gameplay available in the multiplayer area; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Vehicle Capture the Flag, which is basically CTF with the use of vehicles. The two other modes include Warfare, where players must work as a team to destroy each otherís power core, and then thereís Duel, a one-on-one Deathmatch where two players battle to the death, and the winner takes on the next spectator who is watching the match.
Fighting in the FPS mode is the main way to play, allowing you to pick up and fire weapons with such crazy names as the Longbow Avril, Impact Hammer, and the ultimate toy, the Redeemer, which will literally murder anything moving. Vehicles are also thrown into the mix, shifting you into third person mode. Youíll have access to flying pods like the Axon Rator, lethal buggies like the Axon Scorpion, or the Tony Hawk-styled Hoverboard. Fighting gun to gun is great, but the vehicles do steal the show, making some of the battles over the top.
Players have the option of playing the game with the Sixaxis controller, or to really go for that PC old school feel they can use a keyboard and mouse. Obviously the keyboard and mouse gives you a better control advantage, so when you join or host a game you have the option to filter the settings to play with those who are only using controllers, only using a keyboard and mouse, or both. The Sixaxis handles the action well with tight and responsive controls, but letís face it when youíre playing with a keyboard and mouse itís like playing a whole new game. Try it for yourself and you will easily see the difference.
This game is swift and smooth, and even though itís only running at 30 frames per second, UT3 demonstrates some of the fastest action seen thus far on the PS3. Even online, the gameplay remains solid, allowing you to blow away one enemy with a stinger minigun, hi-jump to a tower and switch to a sniper rifle to take out another guy below, then rush down to retrieve a flack cannon to surprise two soldiers and blow them to pieces with such precision and ease that it seems like the game is playing itself.
At the start of the game you have the option to install part of the game directly onto your hard drive and then use the disc to activate it, like a PC game. The advantage to this is that it speeds up your load times and enhances your framerate even more, because the processor is not solely depending on your disc and can get information from the hard drive. If you play the game using the disc only, and then try it via the hard drive installation, you will see how the loading and speed times change.
Overall, UT3 is the same game we all love, but itís been tricked-out to keep it up to date with the current gaming arena. A few years back it would have been unheard of to have an Unreal game running this fast on a console and instead have to settle for a watered down version, but because of the current next-gen power machines, youíre getting the best Unreal Tournament game to date.
The audio is on the level of a rock concert with music and sound effects blazing in every direction. If youíve got a surround sound system hooked up to your PS3, then crank it up so you can hear missiles whizzing by, ear shattering explosions, and the mechanics of the hi-tech weapons revving up. The voice acting in the campaign mode is well done, but the dialogue is more campy then clever.
The campaign mode can be finished in about a weekend, depending on the difficulty level chosen, but this is a multiplayer game at its core. There are six modes of play that will all keep you coming back for more with new maps and add-ons on their way to build the UT3 community. For those who are mod-addicts, the PC version of Unreal Tournament 3 allows you to make mods that can be formatted and downloaded for PS3 gamers as well. As of this writing, this process is still in the early stages, but Iím sure in the next few months PS3 players will have quite a variety of mods to access.
UT3 is in no way a new car right off of the assembly line, but itís your old ride that has been pimped-out to maximum performance. Every PS3 owner should own this game, because so far it offers one the biggest online community to date, (competing with Warhawk and Resistance) with loyal fans filling the servers in a fight to wear the crown of the best UT3 player. Hopefully UT4 will raise the bar in the series, possibly adding the option to play in third person mode like Gears of War, which will definitely change how the game is played. Xbox 360 players have Halo 3, and now PS3 gamers have their own online gaming domain with UT3.