First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Midway Unreal Tournament 3
- The game hearkens back to the superb style and pace of the classic Unreal Tournament, slick graphics and excellent PC performance
- New Warfare mode is clever, but we still miss the absent Assault mode, vehicles could use some more fine-tuning
If you're hoping for a game that will melt your eyes with cutting-edge graphics and stimulate your mind with a deep, highly customisable online experience, Call of Duty 4 is probably your game.
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Speaking of vehicles, UT3 has an absolutely enormous fleet comprised of old favourites such as the Goliath tank and the nimble Raptor, and new vehicles. Unfortunately, from a gameplay perspective, "more" doesn't necessarily equal "better", as some of the vehicles could use a little more fine-tuning. The revamped Scorpion buggy, for instance, now lobs powerful grenades instead of plasma nets. It's a good idea in theory, but the new Scorpion grenades are almost too powerful, and players can rack up plenty of kills by simply spamming them everywhere.
Other vehicle upgrades are more welcome, such as the ability to set a self-destruct mode and launch out to safety on certain vehicles. Overall, while the vehicles do add a nice dimension to the gameplay, it's clear that Halo 3 has the most balanced vehicle-on-vehicle combat around.
Gameplay aside, UT3 shines with outstanding visuals, no surprise considering Epic's reputation for pumping out eye-popping graphics and out-of-this-world designs. On a pure technical level, UT3 looks excellent and should run like butter on even mid-range PCs. We did notice, however, that even at its highest settings, UT3 just doesn't pack the punch that games like Call of Duty 4 and Crysis can deliver.
And compared to the brightly coloured, fantasy look of prior Unreal games, UT3's art direction comes across as darker and more sombre. It's not a bad change, but we were still a little disappointed that the game didn't feature more outlandish environments; we wanted something as memorable as UT's low-gravity rooftops or UT 2003's dreamlike Tokara Forest but all UT3 has to offer are darkly lit streets and dingy military bases. The levels all play and look great, but stylistically speaking, they just aren't quite as distinctive as we'd hoped.
UT3's vehicles, though, look absolutely sensational. We particularly liked the organic-mechanical look of the Necrid vehicles, which include the 50-foot tall Darkwalkers -- imagine the tripods from The War of the Worlds -- and the sinister scuttling of the Scavengers. Seeing several Darkwalkers loom menacingly over the horizon is an unnerving experience and it's moments like these when UT3's production truly shines.
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