Just when I had accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be getting any new games until the holidays (which are now upon us), Sony pulls one out of their ass and manages to get the PlayStation 3 version of Unreal Tournament 3 shipped on December 10. In case you weren’t following – originally, UT3 was set to launch on the PS3 along side the PC version on November 19. The Xbox 360 version was to follow in Q1 of 2008, but was never given a solid release date. The months leading up to the release were uncertain and it was finally confirmed that the PS3 version would miss the November 19 launch. Then on November 21, Sony announced it would ship a mere 3 weeks late, and they followed through.
UT, My Old Friend
I knew the game wouldn’t be in Canadian stores on the 10th, and sure enough the trucks started arriving late afternoon on the 11th. After picking up Hannah from school, we took a detour to the local Future Shop and after several lengthy conversations with 2 moronic sales dinks, I finally walked out with a copy of what was sure to be an instant classic, and a ridiculous smile on my face. For those new to these parts, I come from a PC gaming background. Unreal Tournament is a franchise I’ve been playing for years and one that I have truly missed since making the switch to console gaming and ditching the PC platform entirely. So, you can imagine how excited I was when the news of UT3 coming to consoles made the rounds.
Bridging the PC-Console Gap
Unreal Tournament 3 is the closest thing to a PC game on a console to date. And it’s not simply due to UT never having made the platform jump before. Many of the elements that make up PC gaming are carried over to the PS3 version. Whether they’ll be in the Xbox 360 version is unconfirmed at this point. For starters, you replace the SIXAXIS (CAPS!!!) controller with a mouse and keyboard… seriously! UT3 has fully keyboard/mouse support out of the box. And just when you’re thinking how unfair it is to pit a controller against the almighty keyboard/mouse, there’s a filter option to weed out the keyboard/mouse players.
One of the greatest aspects of PC gaming that has yet to been translated into the console gaming world is user created content. Mods, maps, character models and skins, voice packs, logos and emblems… just about every aspect of many top tier PC titles is fully customizable. Then in walks UT3 on the PS3. Just yesterday, the first user created map was released into the wild and I took it for a spin this evening. While the method of getting mods onto the PS3 feels like it’s held together with duct tape, it’s still pretty damn cool that I can download new content for free.
This is Where I Don’t Go into Detail
I’ve got some lengthy notes here, outlining different areas that I wanted to cover. But I’m not going to talk about a single one. Unreal Tournament 3 is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It’s the logical next step in the UT franchise. It’s just as much fun and intense to play as the previous games. It brings some slight adjustments to some of the game modes – Warfare = OnSlaught 2.0, but it’s basically all there. And of course, everything is just a bit bigger, louder and looks nicer.
Not Without a Very Big, Glaring Flaw
My only real beef with this game, is the stupid fucking lame excuse for a campaign. Why, oh why is there even a campaign mode in UT3? It’s the most ridiculous thing you’ll ever experience. There’s a plot, of sorts. And you’re supposed to fight this race of alien beasts, or something. But it’s simply a series of bot matches strewn together with cutscenes. They’ve gone as far as to try and make sense of why you’d be playing Capture the Flag with the alien race that just killed all your people by making FLaG an acronym for something that has to do with powering the “respawners” – which justify the whole coming back to life when you get killed, thing. It’s really, sadly, extraordinarily lame.
Hopefully, my Xbox 360 friends don’t have to wait too long to get their hands on this. UT3 is going to provide many, many hours of over-the-top, classic first person shooter goodness. But it will be interesting to see how UT does in the console market. From what I’ve read recently, the high end PC games are doing so well. Maybe this is the next logical step for them? Or maybe the dated gameplay of a franchise like UT won’t resonate well with those who haven’t experienced it prior? Time will tell.