By Rob Hill
Classic first person shooters have been around since the days of Doom in 1993 and with a few exceptions have stuck to one solid formula – chaos and carnage induced fragging. Of late, however, things have become a little fancier with the event of more sophisticated AI, better latencies and bigger bandwidth.
When Unreal Tournament came out in 1999 it fell quite happily into the same kind of league as Doom, Quake, Half Life and the other fragging greats of the time. Since then all the UT renditions to follow seemed to fall short of recreating the original UT magic.
With Unreal Tournament 3, the developer has gone back to basics. While other games have evolved into more structured, intelligent and slightly slower-paced affairs, Epic has stuck with the time-honoured formula of relentless frag-fest style, in which lightning reflexes and marksmanship separate the men from the dead.
Going straight into multiplayer is an option but would be ill advised. The single player Champaign is a good way to start not least because you keep coming back from the dead and repeatedly blowing apart your sister in the opening map, which is wrong on so many levels. However, the single-player campaign introduces you to each of the different game types, maps and weapons at a sensible pace and if you set the bots skill level to expert you will find yourself up against some very challenging opponents. The storyline is not much but let’s be honest it is essentially a cunningly disguised tutorial – essential if you want to avoid becoming frag-fodder the second you go up against human opponents online.
The game play comes in three main flavours – Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Warfare. While the first two we all know and love, the third needs a little more clarification. Much like the Assault missions of the original UT, this game mode requires you to capture a series of victory points before making a move on the opposition’s main base. You can, of course, also take a detour and capture side locations, which unlock bonus goodies (such as spawning one of the Necris vehicles) and can turn a losing battle into the ever sought after victory.
Weapons and vehicle are an assortment of old and new with the notable reintroduction of the Impact Hammer after an 8 year absence. Another notable and welcome addition is the hover board (which each player carries by default). This saves us the perpetual slog of trying to run back to the action.
All this has been created using the Unreal Engine 3 (the engine behind both BioShock and Gears of War). The net effect (excuse the pun) is that the visuals are pretty jaw-dropping (for a first-person shooter, that is) and you’re likely to lose a life or two while gawping at the views.
All in this game is full of all the original reasons we loved first person shooters. Add a twinkle of graphics and voila you have a good old fashioned frag fest that is great to look at and manic to play. This is a big hit if all you want to do is relax (well sort of) and shoot stuff (bots or other gamers).
Big thumbs up for the new UT3
Last Updated: March 26, 2008