Really, it's about bloody time. After the release of Unreal Tournament III being up in the air for so long towards the back end of 2007, it's great to finally get our slice of the Flak Cannon-shooting, face-smashing deathmatch action on PS3. UTIII isn't just a pretty face, but a brilliant port of one of the best multiplayer shooters ever on PC.
How does the PC shooter handle on the Sixaxis? Brilliantly, we're pleased to say. It's your typical dual-analogue affair.
The left stick controls movement, while the right handles your aim, X jumps, Circle brings out your melee weapon - the impact hammer - and Square gets out the new hoverboard. Primary and secondary firing is done with R1 and L1; R2 cycles weapons, while holding L2 brings up a quick-select circle, so you can instantly select the desired weapon with the right stick.
The control set-up works well. But if you have any doubts, you can always slap in a mouse and keyboard.
For newbies, UTIII is an arena-based shooter with your usual selection of deathmatch and capture the flag (CTF) scenarios, as well as a few original modes.
There are six modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Vehicle Capture the Flag (VCTF), Warfare, and Duel. Warfare mode is an improved version of the missing old Assault mode.
Ancient and modern
Diving straight into a deathmatch, you instantly know there's nothing better on PS3. UT has always provided a good battle game, and this is no different. All the old weapons are back with the same familiar primary and secondary fire features - the Flak Cannon, Link Gun, Rocket Launcher and Redeemer. It's just like old times.
There have been some balance changes to these weapons; the Flak Cannon's primary spread shot is slower. But that balance is, as ever, just right and with arenas filled with such a huge variety in weapons, there's always something interesting to grab and shoot.
While deathmatch games have you running hot-triggered through tighter, windier levels that keep shoot-outs upclose and personal, the more tactical CTF and Warfare modes take you out into the more open arenas, which are easily some of the biggest we've seen in a deathmatch game.
Vehicle Capture the Flag games are awesome - the openness of levels mixed with the introduction of vehicles makes for a game not only with a hundred and one tactics, but one of extreme challenge.
That's where the hoverboard comes in. In any game with vehicles, hoverboards are introduced as a new form of on-foot transport - just tap Square to zoom along.
You do this after you grab a flag. The downside is that if you're shot even once while on your board, you fall off stunned for a few seconds, and instantly drop whatever it was you were carrying (a flag or orb).
Orbs? Ah yes, they're new too, and form the essence of what makes the new Warfare mode so brilliant. Warfare mode is a team game. Both teams have a base with a core.
Destroying the enemy's core is the main objective, but to do that, you first have to capture a series of secondary nodes, linking them together. Once all the nodes are linked, the enemy core is exposed and you can shoot away.
Orbs come in when you're capturing nodes. Normally, to capture an enemy-controlled node, you first have to shoot it a fair bit to destroy it, then touch the node to guard it until it becomes active for your team. With an orb, however, you can capture a node instantly. Nice.
There's more depth to it though. A team only has one orb at a time, which is collected from the nearest controlled base. If the orb carrier is killed, the orb is dropped.