Giant Bomb Review

45 Comments

Unreal Tournament 3 Review

3
  • X360

Unreal Tournament 3 is a competent Xbox 360 shooter that can be exciting and very fast-paced, but it occasionally feels like some kind of creepy history lesson on the way games used to be.

Malcolm shows up in the story mode just enough to let you know that he's still a bad dude.
In these days of persistent weapon or ability unlocks, party systems, and pseudo-realism, a first-person shooter like Unreal Tournament 3 feels like a relic from the distant past, when all you needed was a fast-moving game of deathmatch to keep the crowds entertained. While there's something to be said for honing a classic style of gameplay to a sharp point, that doesn't exactly make Unreal Tournament 3 a must-have Xbox 360 game, either. While it throws in a few odds and ends that didn't appear in the other versions, the lack of support for user-created content strips away one of the major things that the series still had going for it. What's left is a decent, but pretty unimpressive first-person shooter.

UT3 is just as multiplayer-focused as its predecessors were. So yes, there's a single-player game, but it's really just a series of matches against bots wrapped around a handful of cutscenes to move it along. The story's pretty goofy this time around, as it's gone from a sport to full-on war. This makes things like Capture the Flag matches seem a little pointless, so the game tries to justify its modes in the context of an actual war by claiming that the flag is really a "Field Lattice Generator" that somehow helps the enemy by allowing them to respawn in the area. It's sort of funny, but the game made more sense when it was a futuristic sporting event.

The typical modes you'd want from this sort of first-person shooter are present, though the game is broken up with a very distinct line. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Duel, and Capture the Flag matches are your standard shooter-style matches, with the sort of map variety you'd expect from an Unreal Tournament game. Then there's Vehicle CTF and Warfare, which are larger maps that allow you to jump in a variety of vehicles. Warfare is a node-based mode where you have to capture nodes linked to your base and capture your way across the map, eventually exposing the enemy base to attack.

While you may end up loving every single mode in the game, it seems that most of the player base is interested in playing Warfare matches, which never felt like UT's strength to me. The game's fast pace really lends itself to very sharp, very skill-based deathmatch and other small-map gameplay. Either way, with a seemingly small base of players to begin with, spreading them all across all these different modes makes it difficult to find a cluster of players in any of them, especially if you're trying to get players to join your campaign mode game. I played quite a bit of the campaign in an open match and never had one person join it. So that mode seems like it's really only possible with friends.

The gameplay in Unreal Tournament 3 builds on the previous games in the series, with the same basic weapon loadout and movement mechanics. So yes, you can double jump, yes, you can use the flak cannon, and yes, the bio rifle is still totally lame. Some of the movement doesn't translate to the Xbox 360 so well, though. Rather than giving you control of crouching, the game automatically ducks whenever you get near a vent or anything else that requires you to crouch. A decent solution, but it still feels really weird every time it happens. Also, the double-tap on the movement keys--used to lunge in any direction in the PC version--works a little differently here. It seems that if you're double jumping while moving, it'll turn that second jump into a more directional lunge. If you're used to the movement options of the PC game or any previous UT game, it'll feel weird.

Shock combos are still a neat way to do damage.
The Xbox 360 port also does away with customizable characters in favor of a series of set configurations of humans, undead humans, robots, and so on. The models look fine--actually, the whole game looks quite good, with a lot of the same dark-and-often-brownish level design you've come to expect from gritty Unreal Engine 3 games. It runs at a nice frame rate on the 360, even if you're playing in the new two-player splitscreen mode. The audio is full of raucous explosions and angry yells from the fighters, as well as the same sort of Mortal Kombat-inspired announcer you'd expect.

While it's tempting to just label UT3 as "old-school" and claim that anyone who is into this sort of thing will be into this sort of thing, Unreal Tournament 3 doesn't feel like a good fit on the Xbox 360. It's a predictable entry in the series, and it's also competing in what's still the most competitive genre on the platform. I ended up liking UT3 for its constancy--at times it feels like a warm handshake from an old friend. But it also feels totally routine from start to finish. The lack of user-created content--which is possible in both the PC and PS3 releases of the game--only drives this feeling home that much harder. As such, UT3 on the 360 is OK, but from a features standpoint, it's also the least desirable version of the game.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
45 Comments
Posted by Mourne

Great review, Jeff. That's exactly what I thought of the game.

Posted by Bulby33

Sweet review. I thought about purchasing this, but I knew I shouldn't.

Posted by Trilogy

 Sort of depressing. I wish multiplayer focused games would make a comeback... but that doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon. Not with fps anyway... I really want to see a new unreal championship on 360. Liandri conflict was a ton of fun.

Posted by MrCynical

The game is great fun, even without the user addons. Yes, there's no DLC in the out-of-box version. However Epic are working on sorting this issue out - they have said that, if it comes to it, they'll package the most popular community DLC themselves (assuming the creators give permission) and submit it as a single 'content pack' for the Microsoft QA approval.

Posted by wrecks
I'm waivering on 4/5 stars because it is UT, because I don't think you are giving warfare it's due and because I love hoverboards. But your review is definately a more balanced look of what the game offers on the 360. I think a feature rich UTWarfare standalone game would be much better than it being slapped in with the same old UT package.
Posted by RHCPfan24

I actually really like this game.  some parts are a little old, like the multiplayer structure, but the graphics and production values are not by any means.  I understand where you are coming from Jeff, but this is a 4 star in my book.

Posted by Spencer

Well, crap.  I just bought this yesterday.

Posted by elektrixx

Thanks for that Jeff.

It is unfortunate that there are no mods, but provided Epic roll out plenty of (free) DLC over the course of time, It will justify my purchase.

Hey, at least you got some points.

Posted by FengShuiGod

Yet another good review.

Posted by Xeros606

imo the game is great, but maybe its because i wasnt around when ever last fps was a quake clone. i like this game since its gameplay is pretty new to me, and it somehow balances out games like halo. playing this actually makes halo more enjoyable, yet playing halo makes this game more enjoyable. its like when im playing ut3 im getting away from the bullsh1tty parts of halo, and vice versa. the only problem i have is that nobody else is ever online.

Posted by HTTenrai

Bio-gun? Lame? I don't think so. ^_^

Posted by MichaelBach

Make it a video review!

Posted by REDRUN

Thanks Jeff for the review.

I just got the game 2 days ago through GameFly and playing it off and on since. I have not played it as much as I could to properly review this game or totally agree with you on this. I use to play countless hours of the original UT, UT2003, UT Championship (for the Xbox) and Quake 3 Arena on the PC. After playing this UT3 for the 360 for several hours, I feel I am on the fence on this one. I like it, but it feels it could be better on a PC or playing with my friends at a PC LAN party, club or event. The game speed does feel a bit slowed down and clumsy by the uses gamepads vs. the mouse and keyboard setup. I agree so far that UT3 does not feel at home on the the 360. Maybe I need to play more to see if it does get better.

Posted by guthwulf

I lost my interest in UT after UT: Tournament Edition... and that was, like, a million years ago. Nice review. I'd like more videos, though.

Posted by toolzz360

i played it on the ps3 and dint like it

Posted by Milkman

War has changed...

Posted by Duffy

Great review, any chance of a video review, I'm feeling a little lazy today.

Posted by TadThuggish

But...but points!

Posted by Kohe321

Great review Jeff (as always)! You nailed what I though of the game completely.

Posted by waza

hmm

if i really would want to play a Unreal Tournament game, i'd go with UT2004 on steam ... it's just a better value

Posted by F1

I think this game is awesome. Doesn't really do anything groundbreaking, but still very fun. I own it for the PS3 and PC and it's a blast to play, just like all the other UT games.

Posted by s10129107

Cmon, the bio-rifle is pretty decent in this game, also this game was born for pc.  what do you expect on 360 or ps3

Posted by Mats

bought the game and i kind of regret it.

Posted by FarCry

this game is fun but only fun online the campaign is just a bunch of instant action games with cutscenes in between acts but hoverboards are fun .

Posted by Moe

Dude whats up with the late reviews. With no video review? meh I already knew this was a good game like a month ago. Not 2 h8 or nething just wana see this site expand.

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

What? I thought Jeff mentioned on numerous occasions that he really liked UT3! Clearly an android with no soul posing as Jeff wrote this review.

Posted by xv0id

I like the PS3 version, the only thing that the 360 version has that's better is spit screen mulit-player, but it's only 2 player. The think I realy like is the keyboard and mouse support in the PS3 version.

Posted by Snail

"the lack of support for user-created content strips away one of the major things that the series still had going for it. What's left is a decent, but pretty unimpressive first-person shooter." My thoughts exactly I liike the PC version better anyways, and I think it's beter then unimpressive, but that's pretty much my opinion. Amyways great review as allways!

Posted by SpikeDelight

Great review as always, Jeff!

Posted by WorkingTavo
Posted by Echelon730

Unreal Tourny 3 didn't do enough to change its formula and its seems like its a good move for the fans but stack against stuff like CoD4, Halo 3, and other shooters its falling to meet what the current majority wants.

Posted by SymbolliC

I MIGHT get this when it's like $20.

Posted by DrKrankenstein

I thought the game is exactly what you expected from the Unreal Tournament series.  I looked at it a bit differently though in the sense that this is a game that is geared towards hardcore gamers and not a casual player. When you play deathmatch with other FPS like Halo, etc you see how Unreal really is the king of this genre from its balanced weapons to perfectly laid out maps. You know what your getting with this series and it delivers on all counts.

Posted by nrain

This game is terrible, the campaign is boring and focuses on warfare and CTF game modes which are just terrible with bots. Then if you want to play online you can't because of dire lag, the best i got was barely playable usually its nearly a full second between animation and the bullet landing. FAIL/5

DO NOT BUY THIS POOR EXCUSE FOR A SHOOTER.

Don't call me a nab, because i have played all UT games, and this just doesn't work on cosole UT3 is poor compared to UT classic and UT on console is even worse. Just give up with the ports EPIC give me Gears 2 quicker :D

Posted by uglybob

Having never played an unreal game before, I entered this with an open mind. A lot of my first few hours was thinking "what am i supposed to do". Even with the tutorial at the beginning of each task, I was still somewhat perplexed.
I finally got the hang of it but found the controls for the vehicles very hard to navigate.
Lost within the mix it is no surprise that this is not high up on the list in XBox live action, even though it seems this is all this game is tailored for. The one player missions are poor.

Posted by Quadrifoglio

Holy shit, a port that's better on the PS3 than the 360?

Posted by Cymatics

Since this is a 360/PS3 review I cant disagree. But if it was PC it would be pretty clear Jeff isent a a PC gamer.

Posted by alexl86

[quote]Sort of depressing. I wish multiplayer focused games would make a comeback... but that doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon. Not with fps anyway... I really want to see a new unreal championship on 360. Liandri conflict was a ton of fun.[/quote]

Dude, what? Halo 3 and CoD4 came out last year, New CoD out this year. And I know it isn't FPS, but Gears of War 2 is also coming this year. If you have a PS3, you have Resistance 2 and Killzone coming. Multiplayer focused games haven't made a comeback because they don't have to... but it's a shame what happened to UT3, I really liked UT2004.

Posted by MiasmaFett

A terrible game however i got it for £12 so not that much of a loss.

Posted by neomattrixx

UT is the game that invented FPS (right after Doom and Hexen for those that remember). Whatever user content other FPS titles currently offer for whatever platform, pales in comparison that UT is exactly what an action FPS should be about. Lets not forget that UT is also amongst the handful of todays titles that don't suffer from the mistaken identity syndrome. I guess over the years it forgot that a great game needs a storyline as well to be the best, but if it had that, it'd than be perfect, not simply great... Good review, but for old times sake, a star more would have been more appropriate. It's Unreal Tournament you're reviewing!

Posted by GamesWarden

Seems like this is only any good for poor people (who can't afford a good PC alongside their 360) and gamerscore points whorers, who play everything on 360, just so they can get a few g.

I love consoles. But I will play PC games on my PC.

Posted by Iraqi_Gangster

I got the game when it was released and I was really disappointed with it. I have the PC version but I thought the split-screen would be cool as Halo 3 but turned out to be boring.

Posted by Oemenia

Ive played UT2K4 for years on PC, and i NEVER use mods, this version is just fine

Posted by Destroyeron

Have it on the PC, didn't hold me at all unlike UT2004.

Posted by thomas10soa

the guns are so slow on this game