Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Unreal Tournament III (Playstation 3)

Epic Gamesí Unreal series has always set high standards in terms of graphics and FPS gameplay and Unreal Tournament
III is no exception. This installment features some of the best graphics yet with incredibly robust and detailed maps that offer a variety of locations and styles. UTIIIís new vehicles include the menacing Darkwalkers and a new Warfare mode takes multiplayer team combat to the next level. Epic has also implemented extensive online community features and support that will allow players to create and share mod content and compete against others with an intuitive, effective interface. Thereís definitely a lot to live up to here, but Unreal Tournament III delivers the beautifully polished graphics and fast action that the series has become known for and the titleís new elements will satisfy gamers looking for some strategy to go with its intense action.

As the latest in the long-running and extremely popular Unreal franchise, Epic and Midwayís viscerally exciting Unreal Tournament III delivers some truly exciting and intense shooting action. Once again taking place in its uniquely violent science-fiction world, with a fairly interesting story mode that allows you to progress in combat against a deadly alien force as you try and defend humanity against their invasion. The initial levels are basically tutorials that allow you to get the basics down, while the later stages bring a bit more depth and excitement to the gameplay. As usual, players have access to tons of weapons and ammo, with the biggest addition this time around the inclusion of vehicles that you can jump into immediately by pressing the square button.  You can progress through UTIIIís story mode fairly quickly, and these stages make a good foundation for online multiplayer play. If you donít want to play through the story mode and instead want to jump straight into battle, the game offers a variety of gameplay modes including the expected Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Duel, and Capture the Flag modes. These are all very tight and give players an immediate rush as they allow you to jump right into the action. One interesting variation is the Vehicle Capture the Flag mode where you take control of one of the many vehicles as you battle for the opposing teamís symbol. The control in the vehicle modes is very smooth and responsive with the directional and firing methods very much like the standard on-foot portions. There is a slightly different camera angle in these sections and you are still vulnerable to attacks, especially from rival vehicles but they are definitely loads of fun to use in combat. There are loads of different vehicles including several different types of tanks, buggies, sleek battle pods that roar across the maps and others. The cool Darkwalkers are the most imposing of the vehicles, with slow tentacle-like claws they tower above the landscape and fire deadly rays at anything in their path. However, they move slowly and arenít as flexible as other vehicles which makes them vulnerable to attack. Since both teams can access vehicles, its important to note that the sophisticated AI makes the appearance of the Darkwalkers quite intimidating, though your faster speed means it isnít entirely impossible to avoid their fire. Epic has done an excellent job in bringing balance and power to each of the vehicles and this adds a great new style of play to the gameís already solid multiplayer action.

While the vehicles are impressive, UTIII hasnít neglected on-foot players. As usual, the team and solo Deathmatch modes offer an immediate rush of excitement with tight controls, fantastic map designs and a well balanced stock of weapons at your disposal. During the game, you can run over a variety of cool devices. Each map also brings unique challenges such as hidden areas, elevators and the occasional deadly drop. There are more than a dozen different maps available, and each one brings a unique style of play. Some are more open, which lend themselves well to all out combat in Team Deathmatch and duel modes while others lean towards a more complex layout more suited to Capture the Flag and Warfare modes. Quickly learning the layout of each level is important, since power-ups usually appear in the same places, which allows you to anticipate their arrival, giving you a critical edge. You have access to an impressive array of weaponry that includes basic weapons such as pistols, machine guns, flack cannons, rocket launchers, toxic shooting Bio-rifles that shoot deadly ooze at opponents and small gauge tactical nuclear weapons that can wipe out the immediate area of any enemies. The weapons perform beautifully, and you can switch between them quickly during battle to save your big guns or unleash a ton of fire-power on opponents. Youíll find numerous pick-ups throughout such as health and weapons power-ups, additional armor and additional ammo. The two most significant additions to the Unreal arsenal include hoverboards that allow you to glide through the levels much faster and the Translocator which allows you to shoot portals and jump through them for traversing gaps or catching opponents off guard. These are really cool additions that add plenty of new strategy to an already intense and solid multiplayer game, making Unreal Tournament III one of the most intense and well-balanced shooters on the market. The enemy AI is quite impressive and the bots show a great deal of skill and strategy in battle which makes for some really intense battles.

In addition to offering the usual standard FPS modes, UTIII takes things to a new level and includes an innovative new Warfare mode, where two teams of players go all out to dominate a map. This mode includes both vehicles and on-foot modes. In this mode, both teams are trying to create and use Nodes on each map, while attacking the rival teamís Power Core. Each Node is connected on a grid, displayed on the map, where when connected they give your team access to additional weapons and vehicles, plus the ability to attack nearby nodes to increase your teamís control over the map. As you drain the nodes of your opponents, you make their Power Core more vulnerable to attack. Chaining these nodes together makes them harder for your opponent to destroy, and while building them, players can use their Link Guns together to complete them even faster. Players will also have to look out for Orb carriers, which are on-foot soldiers that carry a critical device that gives strength to nearby friendly nodes and repairs them. When a hostile node is near to one of your teams, it drains its energy and makes them more vulnerable to attack, so the rival carriers need to be stopped. While its basically and more elaborate team deathmatch that mixes in some elements of capture the flag, its an incredibly intense section of the game that gives UTIII a unique feel all its own. The sheer number of weapons and vehicles onscreen at the same time makes for chaotic and vicious combat which brings a new layer of strategy to an already exciting experience.

Playing the game online is probably the best part of the overall experience, and Epic has done an excellent job implementing this portion. Logging on via the PS Network is a relatively painless experience thanks to the intuitive menu system and matching abilities. Players can select which mode they want to play in, number of opponents, frag and time limits and more depending on how much they want to customize the game. Unfortunately, while the game promises to deliver extensive customization options, these arenít ready yet, so this is all potential at this point. However, the game plays quite smoothly online with little lag or defect evident, which makes for one of the more robust and action-packed PS3 online titles to date. Taken together, this is one impressive package of games that offers a variety of action from straightforward deathmatching to team play and an elaborate Warfare mode that brings an intense new level to the action. As you might expect, everything about the gameís visuals impresses, especially the maps. Thereís a variety of locations ranging from snow-covered mountains, desolate burned out cities and space ships to play through that gives you plenty of variety. The gameís smooth frame rate allows you to enjoy its brilliant character animation, stunning rendered environments for stunning and fluid gameplay.  Its graphic engine and underlying technology is uniformly impressive and delivers some of the most detailed, robust visuals seen on the PS3 to date. While the lack of customization options is slightly disappointing, the deep selection of varied single and multiplayer modes should keep players satisfied until they go online. Unreal Tournament III brings some of the most intense and exciting FPS action to date onto the Playstation 3, giving console players a state-of-the-art experience with solid gameplay, addictive multiplayer modes and several innovative features that make it a solid title for with immediate and long-lasting appeal for hardcore FPS gamers. 

- Michael Palisano


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