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7 Reviews

Unreal Tournament III

It's finally here, but has it been worth the wait? Martin Korda heads to the battleground

We look pathetic. We really do. No matter how many litres of steroids we pump into our arms or right angles we hew into our jawlines, sadly, we humans look about as menacing as a toddler staring down Mike Tyson when it comes to eyeballing a razor-toothed alien behemoth who could rip out our spine and play it like a glockenspiel.

One look at us and they think it's a dead-cert win, a walkover, taking candy from a dead man's hand. And, yes, it would be if war came down to who looked the scariest. Only, of course, it doesn't.

War's about guns, guts, vehicles, explosions, man against aggressor race, a battle for liberty, justice and an all-consuming lust for raw materials. Which, when it comes to shooters such as UT3, at least gives us a fighting chance.

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The latest lot of space invaders to fancy a pop at humanity (admittedly not Earth-dwelling humans, but rather Homo sapiens on a planet called Taryd) are a bunch of goths with a penchant for tight leather attire called the Necris, a race who make up for looking like a bunch of BDSM enthusiasts by employing the services of - yes, you guessed it - a race of razor-toothed alien behemoths (the Krall) to do most of the bloodletting for them.

Just like its predecessors, UT3 is a game that shuns the contemporary, tactical, role-based approach used by so many recent multiplayer FPS titles, instead sticking to the tried and tested manic gameplay mechanic that propelled the original to international multiplayer superstardom at the end of the last millennium.

OLD FRIEND
Entering one of UT3's countless levels for the first time is like revisiting your favourite '80s action movie after months of watching heavy, character-driven World War II epics.

The game's instant simplicity, unapologetic brutality and searing pace suddenly pull you back to a simpler time, when a multiplayer shooter's only concern was pure, unadulterated action. UT3 provides the type of gaming experience that has your arse crack sweating like a fat man's pits as it clings to the edge of your seat while you press your nose to your giblet-caked monitor and yell "Die!", before having your skull lopped off by a well-placed sniper shot.

But before we delve too deeply into the minutiae of UT3's frenetic firefights and impressive collection of game modes, weapons and vehicles, we'd better dedicate a few choice paragraphs to the game's much vaunted single-player campaign.

This, friends, is Epic's attempt to cater for those of you who still don't like jumping online and competing against gobby American teens with egos the size of Everest and the eloquence of a dyslexic badger. Those of you who prefer to wage war against the virtual, preprogrammed killers born of some of the world's finest bot programmers.

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Or perhaps those of you still living in another century, where logging on involves ear-splitting 56K screeching and a five-day wait for your homepage to fire up.

FAILED CAMPAIGN
We were promised a branching, epic journey, charting a global war between three human factions, during which your mission choices would be crucial to determining your path through the game and deciding the outcome of the conflict.

We were promised that this would be followed by a terrifying struggle for survival as an alien race interrupts this skirmish for land and Tarydium (a resource that's to Taryd what black gold is to us earthlings), forcing you and your comrades to fight for your homeland. Assurances were given that all this would be bound together by an intriguing plot, centring on your quest for vengeance after your family and tribe are brutally slain by alien scum.

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