The fall was overstuffed with terrific games of all stripes, first-person shooters in particular: Bioshock, Halo 3, Call of Duty 4 and The Orange Box were enough to make 2007 arguably the genre’s best year ever. Unreal Tournament 3, the last to hit stores before the holidays, is less innovative than its peers, but its speed, intensity and technical polish make it a keeper for anyone who likes to blow off steam by fragging their friends. PC gamers may find it to be little more than a gussied-up version of UT 2004, the most recent entry in the violent future-sports series, but the PlayStation 3 version is notable as one of the first console FPS games to offer keyboard and mouse control, as well as the very first to support user-created content modification (eventually, anyway, via a promised patch).
In some ways, UT3 is more stripped-down than its predecessors (several game modes have been scuttled in favor of a tighter focus on deathmatch and capture-the-flag action), but it’s too visceral to seem at all skimpy. At default settings, the camera moves with whiplash speed, and the copious weapons (a franchise specialty) come with incredibly satisfying bass-heavy sound effects. Some may say that putting a flak-cannon shell through your friend’s chest (or that of an anonymous kid online) is its own reward, but having the announcer congratulate you on a “killing spree” (five consecutive frags) or for being “godlike” (ten uninterrupted kills) is more gratifying still.