When I review a game like this, it makes me feel like an old man. Though I am only 22, I have seen and played every iteration of this game since its inception. Some would consider that a good thing, while others would say the exact opposite. No matter what side of the fence you fall, one thing is for sure: damn near anyone who has ever played a PC first person shooter, has played an Unreal Tournament.
If you are an old school fan of the series, you will not be disappointed by the 360 offering. The twitchy, lightning fast gameplay is back, and in glorious HD. The graphics just pop on a high definition monitor making all other games pale in comparison. As mentioned in the preview, the draw distance for objects on the battlefield is, well...Unreal.
Literally everything on a the map can be seen from afar, with very little distortion. This benefit comes with an obvious cost as well, the dreaded pop-in. Like every other Unreal Engine 3 powered game, there is a definite texture redraw that takes place when you approach any object in the environment. While many would consider this to be a minor problem, it has a tendency to be a distraction, and can pull the player out of the gaming experience.
Unreal Tournament's campaign turns out to be nothing more than a glorified tutorial. Different fights are strung together by cut scenes and a series of repetitive, regurgitated dialog. The plot revolves around a settlement that is attacked by a force from a neighboring galaxy, you know, the typical cookie cutter science fiction synopsis. If there is any semblance of a story, it is not portrayed with enough conviction for it to be intelligible. Every part of the campaign only inspires a feeling of, "Meh, is this it?" When the campaign came to a close, all I took away from it was the bad taste it left in my mouth.
The multiplayer component is where the game shines. There are a wide variety of gametypes at your disposal, along with several maps that are exclusive to the Xbox 360. The action and breakneck pace will leave your head spinning. There is a gigantic difference in skill between the newcomer and the experience Unreal veterans. This is a discrepancy that becomes further evident, when you get dropped into a match against teams that routinely play together.
Lag is the major detraction from the multiplayer scirmishes. Even the smallest lag can be enough to ruin an entire match. The best method for enjoying online play is to team up with your friends, while playing over a local network. But couldn't you do that on PC six months ago?
This brings up the biggest issue with the game. Why would you pay sixty dollars for an Xbox 360 game, when you can get it for half the price on PC? After all, Unreal Tournament has always had a loyal following among the PC audience. The other sticking point is that both the PC and PS3 version of Unreal Tournament support community made mods, but the Xbox version does not. Thanks a lot Microsoft...
If the Xbox 360 version of this game had been available at launch, this might have been a different story, but instead it looks as if Epic games has dropped the ball. You would be better off saving the money and purchasing the PC version.
Instead of feeling disappointed about Unreal Tournament 3, you can look forward to Epic's next blockbuster. Gears of War 2 will be coming exclusively to the Xbox 360 in November.
Featured below is the teaser trailer for Gears of War 2: