I love Unreal Tournament, and I am a huge fan of UT2004. Unreal Tournament 3 isn’t quite up to it’s predecessor’s standards, but it’s still one fine shooter. The graphics are much improved and – contrary to my comments in my preview – not too dark to be enjoyed. The gameplay is solid and the options are good, but there are a few things holding this back from being a top-tier death match title.

As far as what UT3 does right, there’s allot to talk about. The weapons all have a great feel to them and have a satisfying kick when fired. They also deal out serious punishment, which is nice. I for one am glad to see the lightning gun gone. I was never a fan of it, and much prefer the sniper rifle. I do wish they’d brought back UT’s Ripper, though. The vehicles are, as a whole, great. I like the improvements made to the Scorpion and there’s little to not like about driving the Darkwalker (fighting it is fun, too). The Raptor seems a little weaker this time around, but that’s not a killer. The hover board is handy, I feel, and I can’t help but wish it handled more like a skateboard (grinding, flipping, etc.).

Unreal Tournament 3The controls are very, very solid. The only complaint I have is that I personally don’t like to play with the dodge function on, and there’s no way to turn it off. I have a habit of tapping the directional keys to perfect a spot, and with dodge on, I jump in the direction I’m trying to fine-tune and end up screwing myself up royal.

The campaign they included is useless to me. I don’t play UT for a story, I play it for a quick adrenaline rush now and again. Adding a story just drags the game out and isn’t fun to me. The custom character feature is nice but a little lack-luster to me. You can pick from a couple ‘teams,’ and from them one of a number of character models, and then customize their attire. These options are minimal at best and don’t allow for allot of variety.

The options menu are still terrible, but the first patch has fixed them to some extent. Speaking of the menus, my biggest complaint with the whole game is that the pre-game settings you chose aren’t saved from game-to-game. You have to pick your favorite mutators before each match, set the bot difficulty each time, and any other settings you use need to be set on a per-use basis. It’s very infuriating when I forget and have to back out and start over.  I also dislike that turning off ‘weapon stay’ is no longer an option, and can only be set via mutator. There also aren’t nearly as many maps as I’d hoped. You can’t seem to set a map playlist, either. Finally, I usually play on the blue team, but I can’t lock that now and end up starting on red every game. This is very irritating and I hope it gets fixed soon.

With these oversights in mind, UT3 isn’t as good as UT2004 to me. It’s fun, to be sure, and the new Warfare mode (which, though I haven’t touched on it here, is great fun) is almost worth the price of admission alone, especially when you toss in the Necris vehicles. If you want the next evolution in online shooters, play Team Fortress 2. However, if you’re like me and really enjoy the Unreal Tournament formula, there’s not enough wrong here to make this a bad purchase. Just don’t expect it to be an eye-opening experience. Alphasim out.