The first minutes after putting the disc in my console weren’t really satisfying. A huge déjà-vu feeling came over me when the first images, characters and cut-scenes were shown on my screen: Gears of War anyone? Luckily my fears weren’t grounded. Although the sci-fi space marine setting is getting quite boring there are enough maps (50!) and variations on the theme to keep any shooter fan interested. The longer you play the game, the more you’ll appreciate the art and in the end you’ll have to acknowledge that this is just part of UT.
In exchange you get quite a lot: incredibly detailed playing fields, filled with special effects, crazy and fat weapons and tasty vehicles. You’ll never get bored in this game, not even if you’re not the one holding the controller. Especially the Necris units bring originality; from huge Walkers to walking balls fill the screen, added with all kinds of bullets, lasers and other projectiles that fly around your ears.
Of course it’s not only the graphics that produce this feeling of controlled, over-the-top chaos; the gameplay is as always fast, varied and tighter than Nathalie Portman in her white Star Wars outfit. And you get A LOT of that.
Striking by its discreteness is also the map design. Getting stuck in a carner, getting lost of feeling lost… it’s simply not possible in this game. You always smoothly end up where you want to be, and where the action is, thanks to the many narrow points and the new hoverboards than appear more often now. Although the controls of these are quite loose (or you have to connect a keyboard and mouse on your PS3) it’s a welcome help to quickly bring a flag to your base or rushing like a madman to the front to be blown to pieces 12 seconds later by some other vehicle.
On the controls we can also say that I still prefer a 360 controller for shooters, but that the Sixaxis does do its best. Don’t expect the precision of the recommended mouse-keyboard combination.
Those previously mentioned vehicles also work very well within this game. Usually I’m not much of a fan for such things in a shooter, but the variation is welcome and the resulting brutal situations will bring a smile on your face. A fat smile! The secret of Epic is that they know like no other how to balance weapons and all kinds of stuff with wheels or jet engines. Also this time some old weapons got a bit stronger or weaker (Flak Cannon) so that just about any weapon appears useable.
Not unimportant for doubters is that the game is enjoyable even if you don’t want to practise online like a freak every day. The single player learns you bit by bit all the possibilities and the bots that function as opponents in the end become quite challenging. On the story or movies (that technically aren’t too bad) you won’t hear me saying much good though; accessibility in my book doesn’t equal “crappy”. Let that be a lesson to developers that think all gamers are 14 year old that suffer from some brain condition.