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.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Take a moment to pity poor Unreal Tournament 3: the game finally sees the light of day after experiencing several delays and a name change only to find that it has to compete with recently released titles like Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Quake Wars and The Orange Box. Talk about an uphill battle!
The good news, however, is that UT3 not only lives up to the high standards of the franchise, it's Epic's best effort in years and it's a must-buy for fans of the series.
What's old is new again
In some respects, UT3 hearkens back to the first Unreal Tournament, which is a smart move considering that the original title was far sleeker than its subsequent sequels. You now spawn with a precise Enforcer pistol rather than an inaccurate assault rifle and the Impact Hammer returns to replace UT 2004's oft-ignored Shield Gun. Also gone are the floating power-ups, such as Adrenaline meters and wild wall-bouncing. Like the original UT, UT3 allows users to pick up modular armour pieces that can protect individual body parts.
The overall effect is of a striking return to form, and series vets will spot the similarities between UT and UT3 almost instantly: in particular, the main title theme will make UT vets grin. UT3 also has a heavier, weightier feel, which Epic claims is due to increased gravity settings. This helps do away with UT 2004's "floatier" feel and, again, makes UT3 more like a true sequel to the first Unreal Tournament. If you loved the first UT then you'll feel right at home in UT3.
Warfare is hell
Beyond shooter staples like deathmatch and Capture the Flag, UT3 narrows its focus with a new vehicle-centric mode called Warfare. Quite similar to UT 2004's Onslaught mode, Warfare is a combination of Domination (capturing and securing waypoints), UT2003's Bombing Run (you can drop a special orb in an enemy waypoint to capture it instantly), and the old Onslaught (waypoints are daisy-chained together and must be captured in the proper order). Once your team captures the proper sequence of waypoints, you're free to launch a final assault on the enemy team's generator and win the match.
As a centrepiece play mode, Warfare fares well. It's actually rather strategic: cooperating with teammates and guarding waypoints is vital, so don't think you can just run around spraying ammo. The only downside is that the matches can take some time to complete -- as long as 20 minutes or more, as waypoints are captured, re-captured, and re-captured again. Warfare is also a lacklustre substitute for the underappreciated Assault mode, which pitted two teams against each other in an epic, story-driven power struggle; it's too bad Epic didn't include both. Overall, though, Warfare is a nice refinement of Onslaught and serves as an effective arena for vehicle combat.
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