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Critical Reception: Midway/Epic's  Unreal Tournament 3

Critical Reception: Midway/Epic's Unreal Tournament 3

December 12, 2007 | By Danny Cowan

December 12, 2007 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Console/PC



This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to the just-released PlayStation 3 port of Unreal Tournament 3, which critics describe as "One of the highlights of the year for Net-connected PS3 owners."

After meeting with a warm reception from FPS fans upon its initial PC release last month, the awaited PlayStation 3 port of Unreal Tournament 3 finds its way to North American store shelves this week. The release is a significant one for modders, as UT3 touts the ability for modded content to be transferred from the PC version directly to the PlayStation 3 edition. No official Metascore has yet been made available, but the three outlets that have reviewed Unreal Tournament 3 so far average a score of 86 out of 100.

1UP.com's Garnett Lee rates Unreal Tournament 3 at 8 out of 10, noting that the franchise may have finally established a firm console foothold. "This time around, it arrives with both platforms squarely on equal footing -- and arguably more hotly anticipated for the PS3," he writes. "Unreal Tournament 3 makes a strong argument that it belongs on PS3 regardless of its other venues."

"First and foremost, UT exists as an online multiplayer battleground," Lee warns. "The cut-scenes of familiarly bulky-armored space marines repulsing alien hordes make this look like a new Gears of War game, but that's where it ends. When the action starts, the pretty wrapping rips away to reveal the game's simple (but no less compelling) offering of multiplayer shooter essentials."

According to Lee, however, UT3's single-player modes are still worthwhile. "As an offline training ground, though, it serves its purpose well," he says. "More importantly, it successfully goes beyond being simply a still-life sanctuary. The computer-controlled bots that fill out the ranks 'play' the game convincingly enough to allow you to learn the ropes in friendlier circumstances than getting schooled online."

Lee also assures that the PlayStation 3 port's performance and gameplay is on par with the PC version's. "Playing with the Sixaxis controller quickly erased any concerns about whether the game would struggle without the traditional PC mouse-and-keyboard setup," he notes. "The default stick response errs on the little-too-slow side to keep from being spastic for the average user, but it can be dialed up to as twitchy as you like."

"As for today, the arrival of Unreal Tournament 3 stands to be one of the highlights of the year for Net-connected PS3 owners," Lee concludes. "Whether or not you'll find a community playing this game in a year leads back to that earlier question of just how close PC and console gaming have become...and your response to Unreal Tournament 3 will help shape the answer."

Robert Workman at GameDaily contributes a score of 9 out of 10. "The holidays just perked up for PlayStation 3 owners," he praises. "Even though the PC version slightly excels, this port is a fine continuation of the long-running first-person shooting series, with more than enough battle action to go around."

"As one might expect, Unreal Tournament III's frame rate on the PlayStation 3 is slightly less than the PC version," Workman points out. "However, that doesn't make it any less noteworthy. The attention to detail is quite startling, too. Whether you're roaming around an outside map as waves crash against the rocks or rummaging through an indoor facility with a limited amount of lighting, you'll find yourself mesmerized by the stunning (albeit slightly confusing) map layouts."

Workman also makes mention of the PS3's mod support. "The real significance with Unreal Tournament III on the PS3, however, is the Community support," he writes. "For the first time in a console FPS, you're finally able to implement your own user-created mods maps, modes, player creations into the game."

"It's a feature that will no doubt take a lot of time and dedication," Workman cautions. "To devoted fans, however, it's a stellar inclusion."

"Unreal Tournament continues to live up to its name, and part three on the PS3 is just as thrilling as its PC counterpart," Workman asserts. "Never mind its shortened multiplayer count and lack of extra modes -- there's enough here to keep you fragging through the holidays."

At GameZone, Dakota Grabowski rates Unreal Tournament 3 at 8.8 out of 10, emphasizing that it serves as comfort gaming to longtime fans of the series. "Unreal Tournament 3 isn't trying to re-invent the wheel or create fire out of thin air," he reasons. "What Epic Games attempted to provide for gamers was a feeling of home where they can settle in and get cozy without having to worry about epic changes in the gameplay."

"What Unreal Tournament 3 does best is provide a graphical overhaul for the series, intriguing maps to play on, and exceptionally laid out gameplay modes," Grabowski continues. "With experiencing so many military-based first-person shooters, players should be overwhelmingly excited to play UT3 for its laser-charged, hyper-active gameplay."

Grabowski is quick to point out that UT3's single-player mode may seem lacking to those expecting a more robust offline experience. "The single-player campaign is nothing to write home for the holidays about," he claims. "Revolving around a dull storyline, players are pitted into a series of matches against bots where the only way to advance is to obtain victory over your adversaries."

Grabowski feels that gamers will be satisfied with Unreal Tournament 3's wealth of multiplayer options, however, and that its fast gameplay makes for a vastly different experience than what can be found in many console first-person shooters.

"The main reason I am captivated by UT3 is because how much it differs from shooters currently on the next-generation consoles," he notes in conclusion. "Too many shooters are still stuck in World War II or trying to 'advance' to modern combat, while not enough are cranking up the speed and providing thrilling action to boot. If you have enjoyed the previous installments, then I have no doubt that Unreal Tournament 3 will be a fine purchase this holiday season."

Despite being known primarily as a PC gaming franchise, critics feel that Unreal Tournament makes an effective leap to the PlayStation 3. If UT3's online support remains consistently strong, its many multiplayer modes and mod support could make it a favorite among FPS fans for some time to come.


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